W.F. Carlton

Does Cheap Patronage Cancel Oppression?

(August 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 33, 14 August 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

Labor Action has for years insisted that, the Democratic Party was no friend of the Negro people. Labor Action has pointed out on innumerable occasions that whatever gains the Negro people made from the New Deal, they made as a part of the working class. We have pointed out also that the Roosevelt Administration, in order to fool the large majority of the Negro people; has made spectacular appointments of a few Negroes to administrative and advisory posts while leaving the masses of the Negro people to suffer the humiliations, and degradations to which capitalist society has accustomed them.

Our enemies, and even some of the Negro people sympathetic to us, have, on the other hand, stood for Roosevelt as the “friend” of the Negro people. They have stated that Roosevelt has done more for the Negroes than any other President since Abraham Lincoln. They have argued that our policy of seeking to build a Labor Party was Utopian, unrealistic and prejudiced.

Within the last few weeks, however, the ignoring of the Negro people by both the Republican and Democratic Parties has caused a sharp political awakening and questioning among the Negro people. The result is that among Negroes themselves there are beginning to appear some wonderful analyses of the two parties and their treatment of Negroes.

A Few Extracts

We propose here to give a few extracts from one such article which has recently appeared in a Negro paper. It deals with the Democratic Party and Negroes, and it states:

“Our political and civic leadership has confuted federal relief with actual economic gain.

“It has misconstrued WPA and other federal-financed public works projects as permanent advantages while in reality these projects have been but public doles masking under new names.”

Nothing could be more true. The Negroes gained a few advantages simply because, as workers and unemployed, they shared in these “public doles.” We repeat: Roosevelt and the Democratic Party did little for Negroes as Negroes.

Stating the Truth

What they did do, however, is beautifully stated in this article.

“The Democratic Party has created a whole flock of ‘Negro experts’ and ‘Negro advisers’ and ‘Negro assistants’ who can be all grouped together under a $6,000 a year salary ceiling and rated as glorified lackeys, errand and call boys by the Democratic high command.”

“The Roosevelt Administration has tried to wash its face, put on a clean shirt and be at least respectable on the Negro question, but the effort has been mournful and incongruous with its actual desires.

“In the midst of the world’s greatest war, the Democratic Party has shown its consistency of anti-Negro viewpoints by denying the Negro the right to vote; by tolerating shameful, Jim Crow and shooting and murdering of the Negroes who wear the uniform of the nation’s armed forces. It has closed its eyes to race riots in principal cities. It has played around with the fundamental, constitution-guaranteed right of Negroes to earn a decent livelihood. It has accepted as its credit the continual denial of manhood to America’s 15,000,000 Negro citizens and even now, on the eve of its national convention, plans to avoid speaking about the master as a cover-up for its pursuance of its anti-Negro policies.”

That is quite perfect. And where does all this wisdom come from? It comes from the Amsterdam News of July 22. Powell, the editor, was recently appointed by Governor Dewey as a member of the New York State Boxing Commission.

For the moment we shall say here that we can predict with confidence one thing that Governor Dewey will do if he becomes President. He has been doing it already on a small scale in New York State. It can be expressed precisely thus:

“The Republican Party will create a whole flock of ‘Negro experts’ and ‘Negro advisers’ and ‘Negro assistants’ who can be all grouped together under a $6,000 a year salary ceiling and rated as glorified lackeys, errand and call boys by the Republican high command.”

That the Negro masses are beginning to see this, is one of the most hopeful signs of the times and we hope that the day is not too far off when the Negro people and the people of the United States as a whole will get rid of a lot of political baggage, including the Negro errand boys and lackeys of both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Last updated on 15 December 2015