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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.

(16 November 1940)


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 46, 16 November 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We urge our readers to pay particular attention to the articles in this and past issues of the Socialist Appeal, reporting the treatment by the Southern officer caste in the U.S. Navy of Negro sailors who have dared to expose to the world the vicious Jim Crow policies in force on the ships.

A number of these sailors are already in grave danger. To their aid have rallied sailors from other ships who are speaking up in their defense as well as they can, and signing their names too in many cases.

It is our duty on the outside to widely publicize the facts they have bared, to defend: them from punishment, by mass pressure and meetings, and to intensify our agitation for taking control of military training away from the bureaucrats and putting it in the hands of the trade unions.

Into The Waste Basket

Last Wednesday we threw into the wastebasket a lot of clippings, some of them a full page in size, from several Negro newspapers, containing the paid advertisements of the Republicans, and editorials from those papers that stumped for Willkie.

We had saved them just on the chance that Willkie might be elected. In that case we were going to use them in comparing his record from week-to-week with his promises.

Because. you see, Willkie was not stingy in this campaign in his promises to the Negroes. Realizing how important the Negro vote was in many key states, he promised them just about everything but socialism.

Lynching? No one looks at it with more condemnation than he does, he said, and furthermore, something should be done about it. A law Should foe passed.

... Jim Crowism? He was against it, he said. If he was elected, he would put an end to it. Yes, he said, he would even fire any of his subordinates “on the spot” if he caught them at it in civil service.

Segregation in the armed forces? He didn’t see any reason for it, he said.

Job discrimination? He didn’t like that either. And if he was elected, he would see to it that Colored men would have equal opportunity to get jobs in private industry.

Unemployment? Of course he was against that too. Just elect him and he would do away with it, and put everybody to work.

Relief? He promised to do away with “the theory that relief is a Negro reservation.” He said he would abolish discrimination in its administration and continue it for those who couldn’t get gainful employment.

These were the promises he made when he was speaking to colored audiences. Of course, he did not say these things when he was speaking in the south, as at Amarillo, Texas.

Nor did he explain why it was that in the utility industries, where he is already “elected,” he has never done anything to wipe out the Jim Crow hiring policies, which either exclude colored workers completely or confine them to common labor. He did not show how he could abolish job discrimination easier as head of the government than as head of a utility corporation.

Nor did he comment on the fact that the promises and general remarks he made now were made pretty much word for word by the Democrats in 1932 and 1936. He did not touch on this at all to show why he would keep these promises in contrast to the Democrats who broke them when they were once elected.

Nor did he spend much time explaining why the Republicans when they controlled Congress completely in 1921–22 killed the Anti-lynch Bill in exactly the same way that the Democrats who completely controlled Congress have been killing it ever since 1937.

Nor did he say much about the right to vote, although he talked a lot about equality, and he did not at all take up the question of how the Republicans have helped the Democrats kill the Geyer Anti-Poll Tax Bill this last year.

But those who were able to, voted, and settled the question. So we threw all these promises in the waste-basket, in the same way Willkie would have throw them in the waste-basket if he was elected, and in the same way that the Democrats have thrown theirs now that they have been elected.

Poll Taxes Hit Both

The poll tax laws in operation in eight Southern states kept ten million people from voting in the presidential election last week.

This, says the Afro-American, was in addition “to some five million residents barred from the polls by sheer intimidation.”

These poll tax laws, originally passed to insure lily-white elections and to keep Negroes from exerting any political influence in Southern politics, today serve to disfranchise all workers, white as well as colored.

Most white workers in these states can’t vote there either, because they can’t pay the taxes, which range from $1 to $3. In some states these taxes are cumulative, that is, even workers who paid their taxes this year were not permitted to vote unless they paid up all their back poll taxes, from the time they were 21 years old and on. That means that the longer this thing goes on, the worse it gets, and the more people it robs of their right to vote. How many workers or sharecroppers could raise the money to pay for the years of the depression?

The result is that while almost 60% of the adults in the rest of the country participate in the elections, in these eight Southern states only about 10% can enter the voting booths. And these 10% represent the ruling class, of course.

The whole thing is the best possible proof of our contention that laws aimed against the Negro people inevitably hit and hurt the working class as a whole./p>

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