Revolution#111, December 9, 2007
Kluckers Threaten Jena March
Opposing White Supremacy...and Getting To a Far Better World
A white supremacist group recently announced plans to march and rally in Jena, Louisiana on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 21, 2008. These white racists, who call themselves the “Nationalist Movement,” are billing the event as “Jena Justice Day—No to Jena 6, No to King.” And they are very clear about what this means. In what was basically a free advertisement disguised as an article in the Jena Times, these cavemen kluckers were quoted encouraging people to bring homemade signs calling for jailing the Jena 6, opposing the Martin Luther King holiday, and “down with communism.” They suggested that people come in U.S. military or Confederate Civil War uniforms, and they even encouraged people to DISPLAY NOOSES!!
As for these racists and their march, we have one thing to say: THE DAY IS LONG SINCE PAST WHEN VIGILANTE RACISTS RUNNING AMOK AND TERRORIZING BLACK PEOPLE IS TOLERABLE. Go crawl back under your miserable rocks, and get out of the way.
But for those who argue that the Jena 6 case is about six Black youth who need to be punished for beating up a white student...and NOT about nooses being hung on a “whites-only” tree...this alone should make it very clear that this case is truly all about the fact that the nooses hung at Jena High School stood for a whole history and present-day reality of racism, oppression and discrimination…AND the fact that Black students resisted this.
The system came down HARD on six Black youth to make the point—that they will not allow defiant rebellion against the status quo of racist unequal justice, segregation and KKK terror. From the very beginning, high school administrators, city officials, the DA and judges AND officials from the U.S. Justice Department worked together to push forward the outrageous prosecution of the Jena 6. But as word spread throughout the country a real grassroots movement grew. On September 20, tens of thousands of Black people from all over the country demonstrated in Jena, and many more protested in other cities and towns.
But KKK-types then jumped out in a reactionary counter-attack. Families of the Jena 6 got death threats and a white supremacist website encouraged vigilante action against them by posting their names and addresses. As a result of the struggle of the people, the courts were forced to release one of the Jena 6, Mychal Bell, who had been unjustly imprisoned for 10 months. But no sooner was he out than they threw him right back in, supposedly for probation violation from “previous offenses.” Then the DA, the Jena Times newspaper, and the mayor went on a mission in the media to strike back, saying the real “victim” in all this is the white student, Justin Barker, who the Jena 6 are accused of beating up. And the media has also been a launching pad for vilifying the Jena 6 as gangsters and thugs. But support for the Jena 6 has continued to grow, especially among students, and in November thousands of people marched in DC against racist hate crimes, demanding that the Jena 6 be free.
But the DA is going forward with the prosecution of the Jena 6 (see “Update: The Battle to Free the Jena 6,” online at revcom.us). And now white supremacists are saying they will march with their nooses in Jena.
There is a real battle, a profound political struggle, going on that must take off to higher levels, with two sides fighting over a question that, right now, concentrates the oppression of Black people: WHAT WILL BE THE OUTCOME OF THE JENA 6 CASE?
And What Is Your “Southern Way of Life”?
The case of the Jena 6 shines a spotlight on the unequal oppressive social relations and institutions that exist today and are brutally enforced. This is why this case has struck such a nerve among so many Black people.
AND it is also why it has struck such a nerve among the most despicable and hateful proponents of white supremacy. And it is also why these white supremacists have come out swinging in defense of what they call their way of life.
But let’s look at Jena as an example of that “way of life.” Jena is segregated—where people live, where people hang out. The Black neighborhoods are mostly poor and neglected. You walk down the streets of the small downtown—you don’t see a lot of Black people, especially none working in any of the offices or stores. People in some Black neighborhoods will tell you the city doesn’t even come in to pick up the garbage, that they have to go dump their own garbage somewhere.
Caseptla Bailey, the mother of Robert Bailey (one of the Jena 6), is 56 years old and a former Air Force officer. She has a degree in business management, but says she cannot get a job as a bank teller. She lives in an area in Jena called Ward 10 where the majority of Black people live in trailers or wooden shacks. She says whites don’t live here at all. She says, “We want to live better, we want better housing.”
Talk to other Black people who live in Jena. They’ll tell you about how a Black man was stomped to death by a gang of white guys because he bumped into a white woman. You’ll hear other accounts of Black people being attacked, beaten up, killed. Maybe it was a Black man who dated a white woman. Maybe it was a Black youth with an attitude a white cop didn’t like. Or maybe it was someone attacked just for being Black.
It’s not that surprising there was a “whites-only” tree at Jena High School.
On the road leading right out of Jena, you pass a big mansion on a hill, standing all by itself. There’s a big iron fence around it, with a huge gate blocking the driveway. The whole thing is adorned with American AND Confederate flags. Stop at a gas station on the way to Jena and go into the gift shop and see trinkets for sale—ceramic figures of degrading caricatures of Black people. You see t-shirts for sale with Confederate flags and slogans openly promoting white supremacy.
In a place like Jena, you feel the echoes of slavery. You can’t help but be reminded that on this very ground, in these very places, kidnapped Africans were bought and sold, shackled and worked to death. Children ripped from their parents’ hands at the auction block. Plantations where Black people created tremendous wealth for their owners. And white slave-catchers hunted down runaway slaves. THIS economic system of slavery is at the very foundation of the whole way the capitalist system developed and grew in this country.
It took nothing less than the Civil War to end slavery in this country. But even this did not end the systemic oppression and super-exploitation of Black people. Instead, capitalism “re-integrated” millions of Black people in the South into new forms of oppression. Now they were to be exploited as sharecroppers, sometimes working on the same plantation land they, or their parents and grandparents, had worked on as slaves. And coming out of this and in turn propping up all this was the persistent “Southern culture” of KKK cross burnings, lynchings, and Jim Crow laws that required “white only” and “Black only” public schools, drinking fountains, trains, buses and all kinds of other public places.
And this continues right down to today. White racists—admitted and otherwise—will argue that they are just upholding “proud traditions,” “Southern culture,” and “the way of life our parents and grandparents have all enjoyed.” And down in Jena some who loudly say that they are not racist will, in the same conversation, tell you that Black people are dangerous, lazy, criminals with a lower innate intelligence than white people. This is the kind of culture and thinking that in turn bolsters and justifies all the ways that capitalism profits off of the exploitation and oppression of the masses of Black people—subjecting them to the lowest-paid jobs, the worst working conditions, the worst neighborhoods with little or no social services, and the highest unemployment rates.
These unequal and oppressive relations have been and continue to be brutally enforced. And while Black people no longer mainly face widespread lynching and cross-burnings—though the KKK would like to bring them back and there was a cross-burning just recently “up south” in Peekskill, New York—they do face the widespread terror of police brutality and murder.
Now these KKKers have come way out there, and no doubt some of the “good whites” will distance themselves. But these kluckers have been produced by a very specific society, with very specific economic relations and a specific history. In this country the exploitation and oppression of Black people have been built into the whole process of the accumulation of wealth by the capitalist class, from its very beginnings, and first the slaveholders and now these capitalists have built up a whole superstructure of ideas to justify it. At first, it was the Bible; now they still use the Bible, but add onto it pseudo-scientific bullshit about “inherited IQs” and vicious non-stop television shows like Cops, etc.
The division in this country between white people and Black people—and expressions this takes in lynchings and police murder, in “everyday” discrimination and the pervasive racist ideas and attitudes—is deeply rooted in this economic structure and the social relations that go along with this, and it is pushed forward and supported by conscious policies of the big capitalist-imperialists who run this society. Here’s what Bob Avakian, the leader of the RCP, said about this in an article reprinted in Revolution earlier this year:
“Within the U.S. itself, one of the main and most ugly features of the capitalist-imperialist system is the great division between people of the European-American nation (white people) and peoples of color. This great division is not just a matter of racist ideas and attitudes, among white people in particular—although that is one expression of it. This division is deeply rooted in the historical development and the present-day economic and social structure of U.S. society. In imperialist America, with its whole foundation of slavery and genocide, with its whole history and continuing reality of white supremacy, the European-American nation is the oppressor nation. People of European descent, even those who are poor, powerless, and exploited—and even those who may have faced certain aspects of discrimination and prejudice, at least for a certain time, as part of immigrant ‘ethnic groups’—still share the status of being ‘white’ in America, with everything that means. They enjoy certain privileges in relation to people of other nationalities who are the oppressed nationalities. To put it simply, if you are ‘white’ in America, you may be treated badly, you may even suffer horribly at the hands of the system, particularly if you are without wealth and power, but you will not be subjected to certain kinds of discrimination and oppression that people of color cannot escape, even those who do accumulate a certain amount of wealth.
“At the same time, proletarians of all races and nationalities, who are exploited and dictated to under the rule of the capitalists, are all part of one, single, multinational proletariat. Fundamentally, they share a common fate and common interest as a class. For the class-conscious proletariat, for all those who become aware of and take up the revolutionary mission of the proletarian class, one of their most important goals is to completely abolish national oppression—to put an end to discrimination and inequality between nations and, in the U.S. in particular, to put an end to white supremacy and the domination of the European-American nation over peoples of color. This is an absolutely necessary and crucial part of the all-around revolutionary struggle to overthrow and eliminate this system and all forms of exploitation, inequality and oppression.” (from “After the Revolution: Dealing with ‘Racial Divisions,’” reprinted as Part III of the Black History Month series available online at revcom.us/blackhistorymonth)
A Better World Is Possible—
Get with the Revolution!
Human society has come to a place in its historical development where THERE IS NO NEED FOR THINGS TO BE THIS WAY. There is the basis for humanity to get beyond all this. Many people want and dream of a better world, where nooses will only exist on display in historical museums. The necessity and possibility exists to build a whole new economic and social system, a socialist society, in which the masses of people are mobilized and supported in getting rid of all oppressive and exploitative relations, including the oppression of Black people.
But that is only possible through revolution. This new system would get rid of the old capitalist economy that has fed on and reinforced white supremacy, and exploitation of all kinds, all over the world. It will bring in new political forms in which the masses can move to uproot the institutions and transform the thinking that has gone along with, and reinforced that exploitation. In regard to the struggle against white supremacy, that will be an extremely critical front—and the new state would both promote equality and integration throughout society, while it also brought into being areas of autonomy for Black people and other oppressed nationalities (as well as upholding the right of self-determination for Black people).
The article from Chairman Avakian which we cited earlier discusses in some depth what this would look like, including the relationship between integration in the society overall and the right to autonomous areas. He then goes on say:
“At the same time, as we have also made clear: These land and autonomy policies of the proletarian state will not mean that the oppressed peoples will have to live in these areas—which would amount to a new form of segregation. Instead the new proletarian state, while favoring and encouraging unity and integration, will ensure these formerly oppressed peoples’ right to autonomy as part of the policy of promoting real equality between nations and peoples.”
And, somewhat later in this same important article, he relates this crucial struggle against national oppression and inequality to the goal of transforming all of society:
“At the same time, there will not only be the general goal of developing and strengthening the unity of the proletariat and masses of people of all nationalities, on the basis of equality and the common struggle to radically transform all of society. There will also be concrete policies to make this a reality. The socialist state will encourage and promote the development of comradely relations among people of all nationalities, in every sphere of society; and, more specifically, it will foster and provide for the development of communities and neighborhoods, as well as workplaces and schools and other institutions, where people of all races and nationalities not only live and work side-by-side but actually develop close and deep relations of friendship and mutual support in the context of the overall struggle to revolutionize society, to eliminate and eradicate all inequalities and oppressive divisions among people. This struggle will be, and can only be, carried out on the basis of the increasingly conscious and voluntary unity and struggle of the masses of people of all races and nationalities. This is in accordance with and is a very important expression of the advance toward the final aim of communism, world-wide.
“Mao Tsetung gave a very concentrated and powerful description of the communist future, as the era when all of humanity consciously and voluntarily transform themselves and the world. This will be a world without oppression and exploitation, without differences and barriers of class or of nation—truly a global community of freely-associating human beings, sharing a fundamental unity and giving expression to great diversity. But, in order to carry out the world-historic revolutionary transformation to achieve communism, it is necessary to keep in mind the point emphasized by Lenin: The achievement of communism can only be realized through the exercise of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the new socialist society, as a transition to the abolition of all relations of oppression and exploitation and all class distinctions (and the abolition of the state as such, as the means for one class to suppress others). So, too, Lenin added, this world-historic transition will be marked by the struggle to bring about the liberation of colonies and oppressed nations and to achieve equality between all nations, as the necessary path to the ultimate abolition of national boundaries and of separate nations altogether, and the creation of the communist world community of freely-associating human beings. This must be the guiding principle of the proletariat in handling all the complexities of the struggle to overcome every aspect of unequal relations between races and nationalities, every vestige of national oppression, in every sphere of society and everywhere in the world.”
When you think about all this, it is truly inspiring. And it is also no wonder that these Klan types encourage their followers to bring signs saying “down with communism.” But from a historical standpoint, their day is past. Humanity needs revolution and communism!
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