Some Sobering Notes on African American Equality

Published on political affairs pa, by Frank Chapman, 4-05-10.

The fact that institutionalized racism persist in our country is rooted in the historical reality of 250 years of slavery followed, after a brief period of civil war and democratic reconstruction, by over seventy years of Jim Crow terror and state sanctioned racist discrimination. Claude Lightfoot was right when he said that present day racist practices and attitudes carry the stench of the slave market. Ever since the great powers of Europe turned African into a commercial warren for hunting and enslaving Black people racism has been an instrument of capitalist exploitation for super profits. Racism began as crimes against humanity by perpetrating one of the worst holocausts in the annals of human history and its practices today still have a fundamental, genocidal character.

Examples are legion: Take the racist practices of the criminal justice system. I would argue that the phenomenal growth of the African American prison population was a direct consequence of the era of repression initiated by the FBI-CIA (COINTELPRO) against the movement for Black Liberation. Not only were activists who allegedly took up armed struggle, such as Geronimo Prat falsely imprisoned based on fake evidence but also civil rights activists like Maggie Bozeman of Alabama (a senior citizen African American charged with voter fraud in the late seventies), and Mayor Eddie Carthan (first African American elected Mayor was accused of murder) of Tchula, Mississippi were arrested, jailed and imprisoned. There came out of this period a whole series of draconic laws (the Rockefeller drug laws and the federal RICCO statues) that automatically led to a dramatic increase of the African American prison population. There have been successful campaigns to repeal some of these draconian laws and to free the victims … //

… HOUSING: In 2006 the American dream of home ownership was seemingly being realized by more working class people than any other time in modern U.S. history. Just two years later the group United for a Fair Economy issued a report called “Foreclosures: State of the Dream 2008”. This report predicted that due to the subprime mortgage crisis $213 billion would be lost to people of color. For African Americans the “lost of wealth” would be between $72 billion and $93 billion. This is the greatest swindle ever perpetrated against the working class. Presently the rate of African American home ownership is down 2.6 percent from its peak in 2006. In the last quarter of 2009 the African American home ownership rate fell 46 percent. The Urban League proposes passing a homebuyers’ bill of rights that would protect and educate consumers and provide home-buying help. Of course an immediate issue is to stop the foreclosures now underway and provide relief for the victims of foreclosures due to the subprime mortgage crisis. We must build a politically focused movement that can help the Obama administration and Congress stand up to the financial barons, banks and lobbyists in order to pass laws that will bring an end to the foreclosure crisis.

The stats in the categories of jobs, housing and income demonstrate the economic consequences of discriminatory practices motivated by the greed of the capitalist bosses. For Black workers racism means being underpaid in the face of inflated living costs and for white workers if means a continuous deterioration of living standards.

Now is the time to call for a united struggle of white and minority workers to fight for affirmative action because in the last 30 years the ultra right Republicans have been able to reverse or stay the hand of affirmative action. (full text).

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