“The system cannot produce freedom for the Afro American. It is impossible for this system, this economic system, this political system, this social system, this system period.” — Malcolm X
Governments and media would have us believe that much has improved for blacks since the days of the civil rights movement. Yet the illusion they try to create flies in the face of reality. Yes, there may be more black politicians and businessmen, but facts show that, for the vast majority of black people, nothing has fundamentally changed.
The scenes of wealth and happiness we see portrayed on television in programs like The Cosby Show are a world apart from the average black family in the United States. Of the urban underclass in America, 59% are black. The average white household is 32 times more wealthy than the average black household. One in three of the black population lives below the poverty line. The few blacks who have been integrated into the upper-middle class have become totally removed from the reality of life for most black people.
After the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, violent protests swept over 100 cities in the U.S., and 146 people were killed in riots that shook the government. In response to the racial upheavals of the time, the Kerner Commission was set up by President Johnson to investigate the causes. It drew the conclusion: “Our nation is moving towards two separate societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal,” with the likelihood of more and more blacks “extending support to extremists who advocate civil disruption.” The ruling class realized that unless reforms were carried out, revolutionary upheavals would develop. The Commission concluded that it would be unrealistic to try to abolish the ghettos (i.e. poverty). Instead it recommended a strategy to take “substantial numbers of Negroes into the society outside the ghettos.” Black tokenism followed and a practice that, in essence, amounted to a policy of liberation one at a time. A small minority of blacks benefited from this. The number of black businesses rose 50% in the six years after 1970. But for most blacks, things stayed the same. The United States, the richest, most powerful country in the world, was unable to solve the problems facing ordinary African Americans. Many wealthy blacks have turned their back on the struggle. But, for most blacks, nothing has changed.
This system, capitalism, has failed miserably as far as black people are concerned. Also for white workers and youth, this system has nothing to offer. Every major black struggle against racial oppression has been forced to draw the conclusion that unity against class oppression is imperative.
The anti-slavery abolitionists, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Huey Newton all traveled down the road of believing black liberation could be achieved under capitalism. They were, however, forced to realize the need for revolution and working-class unity.
Socialist Alternative calls on all people, black-and white who want to fight racism to join us. But our battle will not stop at challenging the evils of racism. The entire capitalist system has to be changed. We fight for a socialist society that would eradicate racism, oppression and exploitation once and for all. Join with the Socialist Alternative in the fight for democratic socialism internationally.