Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Brief critique and summarization of racism at 1st local Center meeting of D.C.-BA

Issued: June 19, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The focus of this critique will not be on the severe racism displayed by the chair of the local center because those are gone into in the accompanying self-criticism. Rather the focus is on those racist errors made by white local center members as a whole.

Most local center OC members assumed this particular Baltimore black comrade was an OC member. But this supposed OC member, with the O.K. of the chair, threw the whole agenda off, dominated the meeting for 2 hours. As Am. said in his presentation, this was “destructive.” Not one out of about 30 white comrades, during this whole 2-hr period, raised a single criticism of the black comrade or the chair for his not respecting the agenda, the whole way he dominated the meeting, conducted himself. Most comrades were upset that we never got to the agenda, as Am. says, “ignoring the work we had all prepared for.” All white comrades were willing to abandon the agenda to accommodate this 1 OC member.

Why? It’s graphically clear that the essence was white chauvinism. For if the OC comrade was white, the meeting wouldn’t have gone 2 hours without anyone raising a single objection. It was incredible liberalism which shows the depths of our racism, that we would abandon the agenda all to accommodate ourselves to the concerns and disruption of this 1 black comrade. This liberalism was a manifestation of our racist paternalism–taking a totally non-struggle attitude towards this national minority comrade, allowing him to do whatever he wanted. (And not criticizing the chair around this also.) Because the comrade was black, we lowered the standards of what is acceptable behavior for a local center member, e.g. respecting the agenda and chair, etc.

But we have to look more deeply at what were all the white chauvinist ideas that allowed every white local center member to act in a liberal, paternalistic way with this comrade. There are many possible white chauvinist ideas underlying this racist paternalism. It is the responsibility of every white OC member present at that local center meeting to dig deep and figure out what are the white chauvinist ideas she/he hold to that underlay her/his racist paternalism with this comrade. In most instances, it was probably a whole combination of white chauvinist ideas, i.e., many different ways of viewing this comrade as inferior as a black person and using him.

Obviously one white chauvinist idea underlying this liberalism was an underestimation that this black comrade had the ability to be struggled with and change his behavior in the meeting, because after all black people just aren’t able to overcome their weaknesses, change. That’s one of the myths about black people we all hold to one degree or another–they’re hopeless, can’t change, because they’re inferior in that way. But it goes further. Because another reason comrades didn’t struggle with this black comrade to change was that they didn’t expect anything better of him as a black person. After all, black people are just that way-individualistic, not serious, “pimps” off of a thing– so it’s useless to struggle with him to change, that’s his nature. That’s white chauvinism to the core.

But comrades white chauvinism went to the depths of using this black comrade. For many comrades, I’m sure, did not raise an objection to what went on for fear of losing this black comrade. After all, it was obvious to everyone, that there were only 2 black comrades out of about 3O people. So if people dared struggle with him, refused to deal with his concerns at that time, maybe we’d lose him to the OC, heaven forbid. And that would mean we wouldn’t look multinational, we wouldn’t have our anti-racist credential, our proof that we were trying to involve national minorities and deal with our racism. So, he had to be kept at all costs, even if it meant abandoning the agenda and sacrificing the OC process. At least we’d look multinational, even if we didn’t get to base 1 on dealing with federationism and local centers.

And there were those who held back out of the white chauvinism or of fearing they’d be criticized for racism, if they dared raise an objection about what was going on. As Sally offered the self-criticism, she was afraid that she would be called on being “insensitive” to the concerns of a black comrade. This fear of looking racist, making a racist error, being criticized for racism is nothing short of white chauvinism pure and simple. For it’s wanting to cover lip our white chauvinism, not wanting anyone to see it to help us understand it and struggle against it.

And lastly, the white chauvinist fear of black men was operating with some white comrades. Most of us have the racist view of black men as being emotional, overbearing, violent. So if we struggled with this black man, wouldn’t we get that response?

This racism on our parts, rooted in the ideology of white chauvinism, led to gross opportunism and had a serious racist impact. The opportunism has already been referred to: we abandoned the local center agenda and OC process for our racism. The racist impact is that we held back this comrade’s development by letting him get away with this individualism. And we reinforced all of already existing stereotypes of black people. For seeing this comrade’s behavior, and it not being struggled with and changed, just confirmed our racist view that black men are hopelessly individualistic, not serious, pimps, etc.

The other main way our racism towards this national minority comrade came out in the 1st local center meeting was around the proposal and defense of his going as a local center delegate after it was made clear he was only an observer. Once again, it’s clear that racist paternalism, liberalism was at the heart of this proposal. For no one would have suggested a white comrade, even with a “minority perspective”, who was only an observer, represent us at the regional center meeting. (Actually, it’s not “represent us”, rather be a delegate. “Representing” is reflective of circle spirit.) Once again, it was lowering the standards just because this comrade was black.

Once again ugly white chauvinist ideas underlay proposing and defending this black comrade’s going as a delegate. To quote from the minutes of the 1st local center meeting, “But we must take as many steps as necessary to build the multi-national character of the OC. So send __________, it might help.” How much more racist and opportunist statement could be made? It doesn’t matter if a black person has political unity with the OC process, we need to “look” multinational so we should bring in any black comrade by whatever means necessary. First of all, it’s profoundly white chauvinist in suggesting that this black comrade, or any black person, couldn’t be won over to the OC on a principled basis of political unity. After all, national minorities aren’t capable of that. So to get our anti-racist credential, look multinational, we’ll bring him in just on the basis of his black skin. That’s using a black person, clear and simple.

Furthermore, just think about it, here comrades were proposing spending a lot of our money to send this observer, and yet weren’t willing to struggle with him once in the local center meeting about his behavior. That says a whole lot. Comrades didn’t dare take up a struggle with him about dominating the meeting, for all the above white chauvinist reasons, and yet were more than willing for the regional center to take up struggle with him. That’s racist in abdicating responsibility of struggling with this black comrade, leaving it to others. And it’s opportunist as well; for it was saying it’s ok for him to disrupt the regional center meeting, which white comrade’s white chauvinism would have allowed him to do.

All but 4 comrades objected to this proposal. Those who didn’t see the racism inherent in the proposal had to hold on to 1 or more of the white chauvinist ideas underlying the proposal.

And those who saw the racism but didn’t speak up were also racist. They were racist in their liberalism. Not to take up the struggle against other’s racism obviously holds back the struggle against racism. It’s an unprincipled, opportunistic peace with white chauvinism. It rests on a tacit agreement that I won’t criticize you, if you won’t criticize me.

We all have to look seriously at all these racist errors we made in this 1st local center meeting. With this kind of white chauvinism among us, no national minorities will ever want to be a part of the process, and we will be hurt severely politically in lacking the leadership they bring to one party building movement. We have got to openly and honestly begin to look at the depths of our white chauvinism so we can begin to struggle against it.

* * *

Critique and resolutions of racism at the 2nd and 3rd local center meetings will be written before the next local center meeting.

June 19, 1980