There Is a Genocide Going On in AmeriKKKa—And It Must Be Stopped!

June 29, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Everywhere you turn across the USA, Black and Brown people are under deadly assault—from the lives viciously stolen by cops, week after week, year after year, to those murdering cops walking free in case after case, sending the message that the lives of Black and Latino people count for nothing... the mass incarceration and criminalization of a whole generation of oppressed youth... a massacre carried out at a historic Black church by a racist gunman... and countless other outrages that continue day after day.

Carl Dix, representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party and co-founder with Cornel West of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, said: “All this amounts to a slow genocide that is breaking the bodies and crushing the spirits of countless millions of oppressed people. A slow genocide which could easily become a fast one.”

The word “genocide” comes from the ancient root words “genos” (people) and “cide” (killing)—it means the extermination of an entire people. According to the UN, genocide is a combination of acts and policies causing serious “bodily and mental harm” to members of a “national, ethnical, racial, or religious group” and the deliberate imposition on the group of “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” An academic work on the history and sociology of genocide makes the point that “Even non-lethal acts that undermined the liberty, dignity, and personal security of members of a group constituted genocide if they contributed to weakening of the viability of the group.”

Many people know about the Nazi genocide of six millions Jews and the genocide of Native Americans at the beginning of the U.S. empire. Lesser known is the Ottoman (Turkish) empire’s attempt to wipe out the Armenian people in the early 1900s. These and other genocides are concentrated, and horrific crimes in a history of humanity divided into different classes filled with suffering, oppression, and exploitation.

It’s no hype or exaggeration when Carl Dix says what is taking place now in America is a slow genocide directed at Black and Latino people, which can quickly speed up. Look at the way Black people who are caught up in the web of mass incarceration, and youth of color overall, are demonized—how George Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin before killing him because he wore a hoodie and looked “suspicious”... how murdering cop Darren Wilson called Michael Brown a “demon.” Then think about the way the Nazis forced Jews in the 1930s to wear the “yellow badge” to be marked off as “undesirable” sections of the population—before the Nazis rounded them up, put them in concentration camps, and carried out mass murder on a horrific scale.

In Nazi Germany, there were many people who stood by silently as the genocide of Jews unfolded—some of them looked back in anguish afterward about their immoral silence and inaction in the face of historic crimes.

Anyone with a sense of humanity and morality cannot stand by in the face of genocide in America being carried out right now. This genocide MUST BE STOPPED!

A Pattern of Deliberate and Systematic Targeting of Black and Latino People

  • In LA, the police gun down an unarmed homeless Black man, known as Africa, in broad daylight... In Grapevine, Texas, Ruben Garcia Villalpando is pulled over by a cop, gets out of the car with his hands up, and is fatally shot in the chest at close range... In Lyndhurst, New Jersey, Kevin Allen, a 36-year-old Black man police say was holding a “utility-style knife,” is shot dead by cops at a public library where children are present. These are just some of the recent Black and Latino lives viciously stolen by killers acting under color of authority all across the U.S.
  • In November 2012, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams—a Black man and woman, both unarmed—were driving in downtown Cleveland when they were chased by over 100 cops and other law enforcement. When they were trapped in a poor Black neighborhood, 13 cops fired 137 bullets—23 hit Russell and 24 hit Williams. Only one cop had any serious charges leveled against him for this horrendous double murder. On May 23, 2015, a judge acquitted that cop—because he said it could not be determined which of the cops fired the shots that killed Russell and Williams. This is just the latest of cop after cop walking free after wantonly killing Black and Latino people.
  • In 2010, Kalief Browder, then 16, was arrested, accused of stealing a backpack. He spent the next three years at Rikers Island, the huge jail complex in New York City—and spent two of those years in solitary, repeatedly beaten by prison guards and other inmates. This June 6, Kalief hanged himself at his parents’ house—driven to suicide by the years of torture and brutality. Various reports depict continuing and numerous beatings of prisoners and deaths of prisoners, especially the mentally ill, at Rikers Island, which holds thousands of prisoners—most of whom haven’t been convicted of anything, and 95 percent of them Black or Latino.

Each of these stories is an intolerable outrage (learn more about them at But these horrors are the tip of an iceberg of countless other murders and brutality carried out by the pigs in the streets and dungeons across the country. And if you look at the situation of Black and Latino people as a whole, there is an undeniable pattern of deliberate and systematic targeting of these sections of the American population by the powers-that-be.

Pelican Bay State Prison, a supermax California state prison in Crescent City, California. Prisoners here in solitary confinement, in the SHU (Secure Housing Unit) spend at least 22 hours a day in 8-by-10-foot cells with no windows and are denied human contact. Photo: AP

This genocidal program is spearheaded by mass incarceration—the U.S. has over two million people in prison, the largest prison population in the world, and about 70 percent are Black and Latino. This doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands locked up in immigrant detention centers, often facing even more inhumane conditions than in regular prisons.

Black people are incarcerated at a rate seven times higher than whites. A young Black male without a high school diploma has almost a 60 percent chance of being imprisoned before turning 35. Behind the walls, prisoners face extreme, savage treatment—on any day, 50,000 people are locked up in solitary confinement under conditions that are considered torture under international law.

In the U.S. today, more Black men are in prison or caught up in the penal system through parole, probation, and other ways than were enslaved in 1860 just before the Civil War.

The deadly web of mass incarceration goes far beyond the huge number of Black men (and increasingly, women) in prison and serving time—it affects tens of millions of Black people. There are the families of those in prison. There are all the people who are out of prison who get pinned with the label of “ex-con” and “someone with a record”—and because of this have an even harder time getting jobs, housing, education, and other things necessary for a decent life.

And there is the criminalization of a whole generation of Black and Latino youth—who live every day with the threat hanging over them that at any moment they could be racially profiled, brutalized, arrested, and thrown into one of the many “pipelines to prison”... or killed outright. A key aspect of this criminalization is an effort to affect the thinking of people broadly in society—getting those in the middle class as well as people in the Black community itself to look at many Black youths as “criminals” who are “hopeless” and have only themselves to blame for the situation they’re in.

Related to this criminalization is the dehumanization of people of color. This is a country founded on the enslavement of people from Africa and the genocide of Native peoples—with the outlook that entire groups were not considered human, so they could be traded, bought, sold, and used as commodities, or massacred at will and have their land stolen. The U.S. Supreme Court in its 1857 “Dred Scott” decision declared that Black people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Today, there is formal equality under the law, but every police or racist vigilante killing of Black people for being in the “wrong place” or for nothing at all—and the repeated exoneration of those killers—is a painful and enraging reminder that Black lives still don’t matter under this AmeriKKKan system that is marked through and through with white supremacy.

The program of genocide has been organized from the top levels of the U.S. ruling class—the capitalist-imperialists who control the economy, the government, the armed forces and police, and the major cultural, media, and educational institutions. In 1969, according to his close aide H.R. Haldeman, U.S. President Richard Nixon said that “...the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” “The “problem” for Nixon (and other U.S. rulers) was that the struggles and rebellions of Black people were a spearhead in the great upsurges of the 1960s that rocked the oppressors and their system to their foundations—and they wanted to prevent something like that from happening again.

So they launched the “war on drugs,” targeting especially inner-city communities and leading to the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people, especially youth. Mass incarceration took major leaps over the next decades—and the jail population ballooned from half a million in 1980 to 2.4 million in 2014.

While mass incarceration and police murder and brutality are the leading edges of this genocidal program, there is an all-around assault going on against Black people (and, in a related way, but also with its own particularities, against Latino people). Take, for example, the difference in economic status between Black and white people. In 2013,  counting ownership of homes, savings, and other assets, the median white household was worth almost 13 times more than the median Black household. (The figures are similar for Latino families.) Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates made this point: “Perhaps no statistic better illustrates the enduring legacy of our country’s shameful history of treating black people as sub-citizens, sub-Americans, and sub-humans than the wealth gap.” And it is not the case that Black people are somehow “behind but catching up.” The white-Black wealth ratio was 10 to one in 2007—so the wealth gap has increased in recent years. A big part of this increase has to do with the fact that the recession that hit the economy starting in late 2007 hugely affected Black families, including those with good credit standing who had been steered by banks to predatory sub-prime loans, resulting in Black people disproportionately losing their homes.

There are also what are, in effect, debtors’ prisons that are sweeping the ground from under the feet of people straining to hold onto jobs and survive. In some states, suspending driver's licenses has become a tool for supposedly enforcing the collection of unpaid fines and court fees. The New York Times described the example of Kenneth Seay, a Black man in Tennessee who lost a steady job with medical benefits because he was thrown in jail for a suspended driver’s license—the fourth job he had lost. What was keeping him from holding on to a job? About $4,500 in fines, court fees, and reinstatement costs he’d have to pay to get his license back.

Walter Scott killed by a cop in North Charleston, South Carolina on April 4, 2015 -- shot in the back as he was running away.

Or take the example of Walter Scott, who was killed by a cold-blooded cop in Charleston, South Carolina this April as he tried desperately to run away. Scott had lost a decent job after being jailed for failure to pay child support. This happened several times. When Scott once asked a judge how he was supposed to survive, the judge replied, “That’s your problem.” On the day he was murdered, Walter Scott was apparently trying to flee from yet another potential arrest on similar charges.

There are countless thousands of Kenneth Seays and Walter Scotts—part of the intensifying situation where Black people are facing, to quote from the definitions of genocide cited earlier, “conditions of life calculated to bring about [their] physical destruction in whole or in part” and “acts that undermine the liberty, dignity, and personal security of members of a group.”

All this is part of the slow genocide taking place today. And, again, this could become a fast genocide.

What’s Driving the Genocide?

People have to squarely face the reality of this genocide being carried out right in front of us. And it’s also important to have a basic scientific understanding of why this genocidal program came about and what it has to do with the workings of this capitalist-imperialist system—because a real understanding of the problem has everything to do with how this has to be fought in order to actually STOP it.

As Bob Avakian puts it sharply, “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.” (BAsics 1.1) The U.S. capitalist-imperialists couldn’t have built up their wealth and power to levels unmatched in history without the oppression and exploitation of Black people—first as slaves, then as sharecroppers, and then in the 20th century as a part of the super-exploited workers. But since the 1960s, because of the globalization of the U.S. capitalist economy, and other changes in society, Black people have increasingly become a “surplus” population for the U.S. capitalist-imperialists in relation to their drive for profits and their competition with other rival powers around the world.

Detroit is a concentrated example of this. For decades, Detroit was a place where tens of thousands of Black people had relatively stable and well-paying jobs—even as they continued to face intense discrimination, not just at work but in all aspects of life. But almost all the big auto plants in Detroit closed because it was more profitable for the capitalists to move the factories to other countries where the wages are much lower. Detroit is now bankrupt, and unemployment is sky high—almost 60 percent for youth.

As part of “austerity” measures, the city is moving to cut off water to thousands of households for being behind in bills—threatening to deny one of the basic human rights, access to water.

These sorts of things have happened in cities all over the U.S. And there have been other big changes in the economy with major effects on the lives of Black people, like the development of the “high tech” economy and big waves of immigrants being driven to the U.S. and forced into the lowest-paying and most back-breaking work. All this has led to a situation where Black people are no longer needed in the same way by the U.S. capitalist-imperialists in their drive for more and more profits.

This isn’t just about greedy capitalists—it’s about how this system works. Different capitalists are always locked in rivalry and competition with each other, always searching for higher profits—because if they didn’t, they would get crushed by others.

There have also been massive government cutbacks on social spending. The intensified competition that the U.S. rulers face in the world economy drives them toward a “leaner and meaner” capitalism—and a big part of that has been drastic cuts in welfare and other kinds of “safety nets.” Spending on education and social programs has been slashed, especially in the cities. And this has had huge effects on the Black community: more stresses on families already scraping to survive, more people being driven into the “underground economy,” more poverty and homelessness.

The rulers and their mouthpieces blame Black youth themselves for being caught up in the pipelines to prison. But the reality is that it’s the workings of this system that have devastated the oppressed inner-city communities. The capitalist-imperialist system has absolutely NO FUTURE for Black youth.

The rulers of this system recognize—and fear—this “surplus” population as a section of the people that could be socially explosive and potentially revolutionary. From their standpoint, these are people who must be intensely policed, isolated, criminalized, and broken.

This brings us back to the question of the genocide taking place right now. Mass incarceration, devastation of inner-city communities, criminalization of the youth, an epidemic of police murder and brutality—taken together, this is a genocidal program that is destroying the life chances and viable survival of African-Americans as a people.

The oppression of Black people, so central to the U.S. since its very beginning, has become even deeper and more intense through this genocidal program. Underlying it are the vicious expand-or-die workings of this capitalist-imperialist system. And it’s been driven by conscious policies of the U.S. ruling class with very conscious aims.

It’s going to take an actual revolution to finally put an end to the oppression of Black people and other oppressed people—a revolution that would overthrow the system of capitalism-imperialism that is at the root of this oppression and bring into being a whole new liberated society—a socialist system that is part of a worldwide revolution aiming for communism, the elimination of all exploitation and oppression. There is a visionary—and concrete—plan for such a socialist society in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

This revolution is not about changing society “one fine day”—there is a movement for an actual revolution being built right now. The fight against genocide, and the struggle against the oppression of Black people overall, is a crucial part of this movement right now. The upsurge that was sparked by the defiant rebels of Ferguson last fall and then spread across the country and among all kinds of people declaring “Black Lives Matter,” showed the tremendous potential of people to rise up against this genocidal program, among people who are directly targeted, as well as among those who are not directly targeted but who feel they must act.

The rulers have been striking back with more brutal repression, with lies and slanders about the victims of their genocidal program, with false promises about reforms and “working within the system.” But relying on or being taken in by the very system that is the source of the genocide and the overall oppression of Black people is a dangerous trap. What is urgently needed is even more determined resistance broadly in society—involving people of all nationalities and from many different walks of life.

The ugly, deeply unjust, and utterly immoral genocide of Black people must be fought—and it must be stopped.



Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta