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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

“Labor with a White Skin Cannot Emancipate Itself Where Labor with a Black Skin Is Branded.” – Karl Marx.

(29 September 1940)


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 39, 29 September 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

(Continued from last week)

Generous – When It Costs Nothing

Will a vote for Willkie and the Republicans be any better than a vote for Roosevelt and the Democrats? The facts say no.

The record of the Republicans on Negro legislation is every bit as bad as the Democrats. From 1920 on the Republicans sat in power, in the White House and in most states. From them the Negroes got nothing. That was why no colored worker spent much time weeping in 1932 when they were swept out of office and became a minority in Congress.

Then overnight, they became “the Negro’s friend and champion”! In a magical way Republicans appeared on the floors of Congress with Anti-Lynch Bills and Anti-Poll Tax Bills. “The Republican Party,” they said, “has been the friend of the Negro people since the days of Abraham Lincoln, and still is. Don’t you see what we’re trying to do for you in Congress?”

What generous people! During the years when they had the power to pass such bills, they were nowhere to be found. The Anti-Lynch Bills which came up in Congress when they had a majority, were always shelved and forgotten by them in the same way the Democrats do it now. And now, when they are sure that the Democratic majority will defeat such legislation, they very boldly propose it!

There are two reasons for this hypocrisy. First, it is a cheap way to build themselves up as “friends of the Negro.” Secondly, it embarrasses the Democrats who have to take the responsibility for laws that neither party really wants passed. Only simple people will fall for this kind of fraud.

Take Wendell Willkie, the utility boss who was picked by that small section of the race that alone is responsible for and benefits from Jim Crow, the bankers and big businessmen.

Because he is an “out” now, and wants to get “in”, he chooses his words about the colored people very carefully. He remembers the eleven states where the colored vote will be decisive on November 5. But every once in a while he makes a slip, and gives the game away, showing that all his fine talk about “equal opportunity” is nothing more than the hot dog and glass of beer that ward-heelers give away “free” before elections.

Willkie Likes a Jim Crow Book

Recently the New Jersey Herald News, a Negro paper, addressed an open letter to him. In it they questioned his enthusiastic, praise of the book, Capitalism The Creator, by Carl Snyder. The author of this contemptible book writes in defense of “the greatly misunderstood and abused millionaires.” He vigorously defends the right of plutocrats to keep robbing and exploiting the great mass of the people. He asks that taxation Pf the wealthy be stopped. His reason? They deserve everything they have! He thinks it is terrible for the unions to try to get higher Wages for the workers. That will “block the road to recovery,” he says.

Naturally, such an enemy of the working class is an enemy of the most oppressed section of the working class, the Negro workers, and a friend of Jim Crow. “We must realize that certain races are naturally inferior,” says this ardent champion of the rich. By this he means they shouldn’t have equal opportunities and rights, they should be seen and not heard, they shouldn’t have the same schooliryja they shouldn’t be allowed to sit in the same theaters and restaurants, they should do the dirty work, cleaning the toilets, acting as janitors and washwomen, while their “superiors,” the rich, do more important things such as going to the dog show.

Public endorsement of this book by Willkie means that if he is elected, he can be expected to carry out the ideas in it! And those colored workers who fell for Willkie’s promises before elections will be given the privilege of shining his shoes as reward for their support.

Between the two boss parties the Negro has no choice. Neither will help him, each will betray him, both are his mortal enemies.

Trouble – And Double Trouble

The life we live in 1940 is a strange thing.

The workers produce everything, and they live in misery. The bosses produce nothing, and they live in comfort and luxury. Because of the profit system, the bosses make the workers live in unhealthy tenements. Often they shut down the factories and throw the workers into the streets to starve or live on miserable relief allowances. When the workers dare to ask for a little more from life, the strength of the whole system is thrown against them: the laws, the police, the newspapers, the courts. When this decaying profit system faces a crisis, the bosses of the different countries put guns in the workers’ hands and send them out to kill each other to decide which bosses shall get the gravy.

As workers, the Negroes suffer all this. But that isn’t all. Because they are Negroes, they are treated even worse. The Republicans and the Democrats defend this way of life, but they won’t do anything to let the colored workers have at least the same rotten conditions and opportunities that the white workers have. The colored workers are herded into the worst of the bad houses. They are given the dirtiest and worst paying jobs. They are hired last and fired first. They aren’t even permitted to join their bosses’ Army. Many of them are terrorized and lynched when they try to vote like other workers, even for Republicans and Democrats. Insult is always added to the injuries they suffer under capitalism.

Why is this? Why must colored workers carry a double burden?

(Next week: What Causes Jim Crow?)

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