We don’t have one working class in the U. S. We have two: one white and one black/Latinx. As long as white family wealth is 13 times black family wealth, class unity isn’t likely. Nor is it even desirable for black people. A united working class as Bernie envisions it in this period would led by whites and benefit whites more than it would blacks. Cuba is a good example. If we are sincere in wanting a society where caring replaces greed, where cooperation beats competition, black people are leading that struggle. The cutting edge of that struggle is in the prisons. In September of last year, 24,000 prisoners in 24 states went on strike, an event far more significant that whatever happened in that forgettable election that year.
Of course, black people need to lead this movement, but white leftists, progressives, or whatever also need to focus our attention on organizing black people. We can join organizations like SURJ to support Black Lives Matter. But we need to support local, grass roots organizing as well. In Community Colleges. In public schools. In HeadStarts and child care centers. In public housing. In coalitions of churches. With demands for housing, jobs, medical care and, yes, reparations. If you don’t like the word, call it remedies for the unconstitutional segregation of housing since World War II. It’s tragic that the Conyer’s bill creating a commission to study such remedies will no longer bear his name. Someone else will introduce it this year. The bill is called ‘‘The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act,” and we should withhold support from any candidate for Congress who refuses to pledge support for this legislation.
As the civil rights movement evolved into the Black Power movement, Dr. King (Happy Birthday to ya!) was asked by a white person what the role of whites should be in the movement going forward. He said, “What do you do when you see a man in a hole? You help him get out of the hole.”