Revolution#107, November 4, 2007

On Racism and The System

Thoughts on reading Clarence Page’s “Hung Up on Noose News”

There is a piece by Clarence Page* on October 17, “Hung up on noose news”—whose title is more than a subtle hint as to its stance—which essentially criticizes the struggle to free the Jena 6, by lecturing people, particularly young Black people, about how the noose does not have the same symbolism as it did in the past. While assuming the posture of a veteran of the struggle (“I knew the ’60s”) and while seemingly taking an “even-handed” approach—saying it is not either Al Sharpton or Bill Cosby but the role of both that is needed—Page in fact promotes the Cosby line, including through statements such as: “Today’s young black males kill more young black males in a year than the Ku Klux Klan killed in its entire history.” Here we see constructed, in a way that is typical of these Black bourgeois types, the false and misleading—or, perhaps better said, misdirecting—device of posing the dichotomy (or contradiction) as between racism (or white people), on the one hand, and, on the other hand, lack of personal responsibility on the part of Black people (including parents as well as youth). This false posing of the contradiction is part of, or in any case generally serves, the argument to Black people: “Yes, there is racism, and yes many white people are racists—but get over it, you can overcome this if you apply yourself diligently enough and with enough discipline.” What is left out in this—or evaded, consciously or not—is the heart and essence of the matter: While racism, and racist white people, are a real problem, the fundamental problem is THE SYSTEM—a system which, under certain historical conditions, spawned and utilized the KKK (and similar forces) to terrorize Black people, and which today relies mainly on the police to carry out violent repression, brutality and murder, against Black people and Black youth especially. IT IS THE SYSTEM which has put, and maintains, Black people—and, yes, in a particular way Black youth—in the situation where they are brutalizing and murdering each other. And IT IS THE SYSTEM which must be taken on and fought against—resisted now, through mass political mobilization, and finally, when the change has come about to where there is a revolutionary situation, it must be swept aside and abolished through mass revolutionary struggle. Once again, the basic point must be emphasized: It is only in and through the process of carrying out this resistance, and ultimately revolutionary struggle, and becoming increasingly conscious of the need and possibility of a radically different and far better society and world, brought about through revolution, that the masses of Black youth, Black people generally, and other oppressed people, can also transform themselves—into the emancipators of humanity.

* Clarence Page is a Black syndicated columnist and member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

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