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Damansarajaya

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Member since: Mon Mar 10, 2014, 06:36 PM
Number of posts: 625

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On the false dichotomy between race and gender issues and class distinctions:

I am far from an expert on these matters, so I'll defer to those who are:

A. Philip Randolph--a self-proclaimed socialist, he organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first mainly African-American labor union

From Wiki: "He met Columbia University Law student Chandler Owen, and the two developed a synthesis of Marxist economics and the sociological ideas of Lester Frank Ward, arguing that people could only be free if not subject to economic deprivation. At this point, Randolph developed what would become his distinctive form of civil rights activism, which emphasized the importance of collective action as a way for black people to gain legal and economic equality. To this end, he and Owen opened an employment office in Harlem to provide job training for southern migrants and encourage them to join trade unions." (original source: Pfeffer, Paula F. (2000). "Randolph; Asa Philip". American National Biography Online. Oxford U P. Retrieved 2013-2-27.)

Bayard Rustin--self defining as gay and socialist, Rustin is remembered for organizing the world-changing 1963 March on Washington.

Wiki defines his views as follows:

After the passage of the civil-rights legislation of 1964–65, Rustin focused attention on the economic problems of working-class and unemployed African Americans, suggesting that the civil-rights movement had left its period of "protest" and had entered an era of "politics", in which the black community had to ally with the labor movement. Rustin became the head of the AFL–CIO's A. Philip Randolph Institute, which promoted the integration of formerly all-white unions and promoted the unionization of African Americans. The Institute under Rustin's leadership also advanced and campaigned for (from 1966 to 1968) A Freedom Budget for All Americans, linking the concepts of racial justice with economic justice. Supported by over 200 prominent civil-rights activists, trade unionists, religious leaders, academics and others, it outlined a plan to eliminate poverty and unemployment in the United States within a ten-year period.

Diane Nash--raised into a family in which her step-father was a member of the Pullman Porter Union, Diane nearly single-handedly integrated Nashville's lunch counters by publicly asking the mayor of the city if he believed people should be treated unequally based on their race. He admitted that he didn't. (From Wiki) "In August 1961, Diane Nash participated in a picket line, which was protesting a local supermarket's refusal to hire blacks."

Malcolm X-- (Wiki) In his speeches at the Militant Labor Forum, which was sponsored by the Socialist Workers Party, Malcolm X criticized capitalism. After one such speech, when he was asked what political and economic system he wanted, he said he didn't know, but that it was no coincidence the newly independent countries in the Third World were turning toward socialism. When a reporter asked him what he thought about socialism, Malcolm X asked whether it was good for black people. When the reporter told him it seemed to be, Malcolm X told him, "Then I'm for it."

Martin Luther King, Jr-- “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.

"Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone. . . Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.” 1961

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2014/01/20/3177871/martin-luther-king-radicalism/ (ThinkProgress)

King pushed for a government-guaranteed right to a job. In the years before his assassination, King re-shifted his focus on economic justice in northern cities as well as the South. He launched the Poor People’s Campaign and put forth an economic and social bill of rights that espoused “a national responsibility to provide work for all.” King advocated for a jobs guarantee, which would require the government to provide jobs to anyone who could not find one and end unemployment. The bill of rights also included “the right of every citizen to a minimum income” and “the right to an adequate education.”

He was a critic of capitalism and materialism. King was a strident critic of capitalism and materialistic society, and urged Americans to “move toward a democratic socialism.” Referring to the now iconic Greensboro Lunch Counter sit-ins, he asked, “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?”

King also explicitly linked the problem of capitalism with the problem of racism. “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered,” he argued in a speech at Riverside Church in 1967.

The reverend was very aware that this kind of challenge was even more dangerous than his work on segregation and civil rights. “You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums,” he warned his staff in 1966. “You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism.”

*****

As far as protecting rights, I know of no better activist than the union in my workplace--it established zero-tolerance for pay inequality years ago on any basis: age, gender, race, or sexual preference. In a non-unionized workplace, employees are subject to firing by even disclosing how much they make to other employees.
Posted by Damansarajaya | Sun Mar 1, 2015, 07:01 PM (10 replies)
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