J.R. Johnson

The Negro Must Have His Share of the New Jobs

(16 September 1930)

The Negro’s Fight, Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 23, 16 September 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Business is going to boom soon. This capitalist society, under which we live in America, has been stewing in its own juice since 1929. The average unemployment has been ten million, very probably more. Of these, the Negroes constitute at least three or four million. This question of unemployment is a vital question for the workers as a whole, but for Negroes it is life itself.

Now! business is going to boom. People are going to get to work. Bravo! True, it is the building of planes, battleships, guns and tanks to kill people. The more the American capitalists build, the more the German, the Japanese and all the others will build. So they go round and round, piling up the weapons of destruction until they are ready to blow the poor people on earth to pieces. But still, there are going to be jobs. And where there are going to be jobs, there the Negroes must be.

The “American Way Of Life” Isn’t Good Enough

The Negroes are being told that it is a war for democracy. the Negroes reply that this is a lie. Democracy in America is a lying fraud. When the capitalists say that we must preserve the American way of life, the Negroes say that they do not want to preserve the American way of life. It has meant for them oppression, misery, humiliation. The Negro, the poor, hard-working Negro, says that for him this war is a war of his masters. They may force him into a uniform, but support the war, root for it; NO! It is a capitalist war, Wall Street’s War, an imperialist war, but not a war that poor people, white or Negro, have anything to gain from.

The Negroes Must Claim Jobs – Today!

But does this mean that, because a Negro opposes the war, he has no right to the jobs which the coming slaughter will provide? That is just nonsense. The capitalists are piling up profits on the war orders. For them that is good business. As a matter of fact, a few of them will oppose the war and still make profits out of war orders.

It is a worker’s right to have a job. If this dirty bankrupt capitalist system can only give jobs based on war and destruction, so much the worse for the capitalist system. But the worker is not responsible for the capitalist system. If he is a class-conscious worker, he hates the capitalist system. But the workers do not make the war. They can still oppose the war, and still, by rights, claim jobs.

Now the Negroes must claim the jobs – not tomorrow, but today. The Negroes must seize every opportunity – by meetings, by demonstrations, by petitions, by delegations to mayors and corporations, by letters to the press, by telegrams to governors and the President, by proposing resolutions for action in trades unions. By these and all other means possible, the Negroes must let every one know: “You have new jobs for five million people. We Negroes are one-third of the unemployed. We demand a fair proportion of the new jobs. It is our right. We are determined to have it. We shall fight for it. In fighting for it, we shall be fighting for democracy.”

Organize to Establish Your Claim

No man who talks about the poor Negroes and does not do battle for jobs for them, is any friend of the Negro. Negroes, we warn you! Organize yourselves! Join the workers organizations! If they wish to keep you out, carry on a campaign against them, but, at all costs, establish your claim, your rightful claim to jobs. For if you do not, you will have no strength, no resistance, for the great battles that are to come. Make your voices heard. Claim your rights, organize and fight mercilessly all those who wish to keep you on relief and starving.

But do not think that the struggle is on the economic side alone, that is to say, purely a question of fighting for jobs. No. The political struggle must be carried on. If Negroes had more political power today, they would be in a better position to make their claim good to some of the new jobs.

When Negroes go up for jobs, they will find that they lack technical education. They will not have the opportunity to train themselves. That is the result of political weakness. Let us therefore bear it in mind that we can never neglect the political struggle. But, for the time being, in this period, there are going to be jobs and the Negro unemployed must have a substantial number of these jobs.

Last updated on 6.10.2012