On the Recent Racist Attacks

The Socialist Party USA condemns the racially motivated attacks which have followed the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. People of color have been targeted throughout the country by small groups of racist whites. Acts have ranged from a cross burning, simulated lynchings and even violent attacks. Mainstream news sources report that hundreds of incidents have occurred.

The election of Barack Obama was undoubtedly an important historical event. Millions of Americans rejected the race and red baiting tactics of the McCain-Palin campaign and cast their vote without regard to race-status. The election therefore drew from the long-term progressive cultural impact of the civil rights movement. Viewed entirely from this perspective, the election of Obama represents a potentially progressive moment in American race relations.

Sadly, the Obama presidency will offer little of the “change” and “hope” it promised throughout the campaign. Early indications are that his administration will be directed by a free-market capitalist agenda and his policies will seek to enhance the profitability of corporations at the expense of working-class America. People can expect little in the way of fundamental change in healthcare, militarism or wealth redistribution. Winning these much needed changes will be the duty of broad social movements.

Poor and working class whites will therefore be challenged not to fall back into patterns of racial animus which debilitated the labor movement throughout the 20th century. As scholar W.E.B DuBois noted, white workers have often proved willing to forgo the struggle for material gains in favor of receiving the psychological wages of whiteness.

As the US heads toward a major economic recession, a racist discourse which targets people of color and immigrants is sure to emerge among a section of whites. Elite politicians will seek to mobilize these sentiments as a means to push forward a right-wing political agenda. However, class unity can be built through a critical recognition of the role of racism inside of capitalist society. Speaking out forcefully against racism and building democratic multi-racial coalitions will greatly assist in the construction of the mass social movements needed to move beyond the meager reforms offered by the Obama regime.

White supremacy is a primary enemy of working class solidarity. The recent racist attacks are purposeful attempts to divide working people against each other. The socialist left has learned the hard lessons of the 20th century and will oppose any racist attacks be they cultural or physical. A cultural approach which features exchange and engagement, instead of just tolerance, offers the brightest possibilities for unity among all working people. Public campaigns and policy proposals to dismantle the prison industrial complex, address issues of environmental racism and to challenge racial patterns of employment could demonstrate the effectiveness of anti-racist class politics.

We recognize that every human being regardless of their country of origin or skin pigmentation needs healthcare, a clean environment and a peaceful life. Socialists remain committed to challenging the fear, racism and oppression that typify capitalist society by building movements which demonstrate that solidarity, equality and compassion offer brighter possibilities for humanity. Thus, the Socialist Party USA says no to racist attacks! No to white supremacy! And, yes to working class solidarity in the service of human liberation!

November 2008

Socialist Party USA Statement on the Recent Racist Attacks

National Action Committee of the SP-USA http://www.sp-usa.org/