The Cancer of Racism—and the Radical Surgery Required to Cut It Out

June 4, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


“Racism is America’s defining sickness ...”
     —journalist Lindy West,
New York Times OpEd, June 1

There was a lot attention last week on Roseanne Barr’s racist tweets, comparing a prominent Black woman to an ape. Roseanne had plenty of company in expressing her hateful racism. Some incidents that happened or came to light in the last week alone of Americans afflicted by the chronic American disease of white supremacy:

  • Four fucking dollars for the life of a Black man. A jury in Florida ruled that the life of a Black man is worthless. Gregory Hill was a 30-year-old man murdered by a cop who shot through Hill’s garage door. His family was provided four dollars by the jury—one for “funeral expenses,” and one for each of the children whose father was murdered. A lawyer for Hill’s family said this infuriating bullshit was because “Some jurors were determined to punish the family for being in court.” How is this different from the “old days” when Black people were punished for acting “uppity” or “out of their place”?
  • Racists call police to stop doctor from listening to music. White neighbors called police on Dr. Mary Branch because they objected to the rap music she was playing in her apartment—at 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon! Branch was celebrating several accomplishments in her life when, as she wrote in a Washington Post OpEd, a cop with his hand on his gun banged on her door, demanding to see her identification. The cop told her not to repeat the “offense”!
  • Starbucks requires training to treat Black people as human beings. In 2018, Starbucks had to shut down its 8,000 U.S. stores to train 175,000 people not to discriminate against Black people! To treat them as actual human beings!
  • Teenager sentenced to five years in prison for stealing a pair of sneakers. 18-year-old Dayonn Davis of Columbus, Georgia, was sentenced to five years in state prison and 10 years probation for a theft that supposedly took place when he was 15. Davis was sentenced as an adult, even though he was a juvenile at the time the sneakers were stolen. The sentencing judge said, “Maybe he’s the wrong person. He’s the one with the shoes in his closet.”
  • Police called on women golfing while Black. The Root reported that a man in Pennsylvania called police on five Black women audacious enough to be on the same golf course as him! The women wouldn’t leave when the man—a white man, in case you wondered—got in an argument with one of the women. He told a police dispatcher, “I want her off the golf course.” When he was asked if any of the people he wanted removed had weapons, he replied, “No. Just her mouth.”

Racism—as American as Cherry Pie

Racism is the ideology of white supremacy. It is the belief that Black people are subhuman. It has justified, supported, and perpetuated white supremacy in this country generation after generation; from when the first ships unloaded shackled African slaves in the harbors of New York and Charleston, to today, when Black and Brown youths fill prisons, jails, and work farms coast to coast.

White supremacy has been part of this country’s blood and bone since it was established. It infused the thinking of the leading “founders” of the U.S., such as Thomas Jefferson. It was central to the political institutions they constructed, and has remained so since. This poison didn’t come out of nowhere—it was systematically implanted in white people by the rulers of this country. Bob Avakian (BA), in Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, goes deeply into how the ideology—the world outlook and mind-set—of white supremacy and racism was deeply implanted in white settlers from the git-go and systematized by Jefferson himself. It was reinforced in every sphere of life—from the pulpit to the university to the arts and especially in the laws and courts for centuries. Jefferson himself popularized the concept of “yeoman farmer”—the supposedly “independent, hard-working, ‘salt-of-the-earth’ farmer”—as against the “pariahs” or outcasts, who were the dispossessed Native Americans and kidnapped and enslaved Black people. This too, as Avakian goes deeply into, was a profound lie; but the depth of the lie is matched only by the depth of its implantation in the American psyche.

Arising on a Foundation of Exploitation

Racism and white supremacy have a “life of their own,” but they fundamentally arise from and reinforce a foundation of exploitation that has always characterized the U.S. Enormous mountains of wealth wrenched from enslaved Black people were cornerstones of the U.S.’s rise as an independent country. Ferocious exploitation of Black people—first on the cotton plantations of the South, then as sharecroppers for decades after that, and then channeled into the lowest paying jobs in factories across the country—was central to the U.S.’s rise as a world power. Again, BA goes into this in many works, most recently his searing speech THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible and his talk last summer, The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us.

White supremacy has been embedded in U.S. law throughout its history and backed up by the violence of the state: from 1789, when the U.S. Constitution declared that slaves were “three-fifths of a person”; to 1857, when the Supreme Court ruled that Black people were “beings of an inferior order ... [who had] no rights which the white man was bound to respect”; to the Jim Crow era, when the Supreme Court upheld violently enforced subjugation and segregation of Black people and refused to outlaw the lynch mobs that murdered thousands of Black people; to a series of Supreme Court rulings culminating in 2007 that ended school desegregation plans which had only been on the books for a few decades (and did the same with voting rights laws a few years later).1

Vicious, mocking racism has been a defining feature of U.S. culture for centuries. Minstrel shows—white people in “black face” portraying Black people as lazy and ignorant, were popular among white people into the early 1900s. The first epic Hollywood movie, Birth of a Nation, celebrated the Ku Klux Klan, depicted Black people as savages—and was premiered in the White House; the first movie with singing, The Jazz Singer, featured a white man in black face mocking Black culture and speech; the first “blockbuster” release in Technicolor, Gone with the Wind, was a glorification of the Confederacy.

More recently, decades of police movies and TV shows have depicted Black people as criminals. Countless “news” reports create an image of Black people, especially youth, as rampaging, dangerous “animals” to be feared and contained, beaten and arrested.

This Disease Can Be Cured

There is a solution to this problem. The plague of white supremacy is not “in the DNA” of white people. As BA compellingly points out in his speech THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!, there have been times—all too few, as he points out—when significant sections of whites went against this poison. So, no it is not “in their DNA”—but it is “in the DNA” of the capitalist-imperialist system. This can be seen by the fact that both times this white supremacy came under sharp challenge—in the Civil War and then in the great upheaval of the 1960s—the rulers of this country felt compelled to reassert and reinforce those foundations in new forms.

White supremacy and racism in the U.S. were implanted by capitalism and are deeply and inextricably entwined in it; but they can be dug up and thoroughly uprooted. This requires radical surgery—a revolution that achieves the actual overthrow of the capitalist-imperialist system, through defeating its armed forces when the system is in crisis and millions of people have been won to the need for revolution. It requires a radically different type of state power, built on a radically different economic foundation. It requires a society in which critical and creative thinking are encouraged and supported, and the scientific method—which includes the scientific understanding of society—is fostered. It requires a society with a whole different morality, way beyond “look out for me and mine” and “might makes right.” Such a revolution bringing in such a society is the only way that this plague can be eliminated.

The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (CNSRNA), authored by Bob Avakian and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, is a plan for a future that is liberating and visionary.

An overall approach combined with concrete measures to eradicate the oppression of Black and other people of color and “fully overcome national oppression and inequality” runs through the entire CNSRNA. A fierce and protracted struggle must and will be waged to uproot inequalities in all spheres of life—economic, political, educational, in all society’s institutions—and to change the backward, hateful ways of thinking that express white supremacy. The CNSRNA shows you very concretely how that would be done. If you are serious about actually cutting out the cancer of racism and white supremacy, you must read this work.

Right now, we need to be living as “future people” who won’t put up with all this racist shit and other backward, system ways of thinking and acting, and racing to make revolution as fast as possible. We are working and organizing for that right now. We are preparing the ground, preparing the people, and preparing the vanguard, getting ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.

Why should we tolerate humanity remaining stuck in this cesspool when so much better is possible?

1. See the Revolution series “Two Constitutions, Two Different Systems.”  [back]


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