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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.

(15 February 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 7, 15 February 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Randolph, The Judas Goat

Four or five months ago A. Philip Randolph, head of the Pullman Porters union issued a statement called The Battle for Britain, which called for support by the Negro people of all aid, short of war, lo Great Britain.

Randolph was immediately answered by George Schuyler, Pittsburgh Courier columnist, who took up each of his arguments point hy point and tore them to pieces. Randolph did not try to answer Schuyler; and Randolph’s statement was widely distributed hy the war-monger ins Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.

This week again Randolph, undaunted by the weakness and falseness of his arguments, has issued another statement. England’s Fight Our Cause.

“Negroes.” he begins, “should support ‘all out aid.’ including the Lend-Lease Bill, to Great Britain, short of war, because she is fighting the cause of democracy, the only hope and salvation of minority groups.”

Did Randolph ever hear about the British Empire? Does he know that it is the greatest corporation of slave colonies the world has ever seen? Does he know that it has more than 400,000,000 colored people under its control, that the “cause of democracy” for which it is fighting is not intended to include these 400.000,000, that the democracy of Great Britain means oppression, exploitation, dictatorial rule, discrimination segregation, excessive taxation, denial of every kind of liberty but the liberty to work for the lowest wages in the world or starve?

Randolph of course must know what this democracy means to the Negro, not only in the British Empire, but right here in the United Slates where he is Jim-Crowed and discriminated against everywhere and in everything.

Two Kinds of Imperialism?

“Now, of course,” he continues, “there are those who say that this is an imperialist war ... It is true ... in the sense that Germany, Great Britain and Italy are imperialist nations, and that Great Britain has been and is an oppressor of the darker races. But it does not follow that Great Britain, Germany and Italy represent equal degrees of evil and danger to the darker races and to ... progress and the cause of peace ...”

Then follows an attempt to differentiate between imperialist Germany and imperialist Britain.

Hitler has shown his contempt and disdain of the Negro people in Mein Kampf, where he calls them half-apes and sub-human. The Nazis in France pulled down Negro statues and drove the Negroes out of the country, “in other words, Hitler preaches and practices, unashamedly, his hellish hatred of all Negroes.”

Randolph then contrasts to this his version of the behavior of British imperialism. Does he say a word about the policies it is still carrying on in Africa and India and the West Indies, the denial of all rights of free speech, free press and free assemblage, the arrests of all who speak up against the war, the intensification during the war of the exploitation of the Africans to raise the money to run the war? Not a word. For then he would have to admit that while Hitler preaches and practices Negro oppression, England keeps quiet and practices it. that while Hitler calls the Negro inferior, England keeps quiet and treats him as an inferior.

Instead, Randolph points to the “co-operation Britain is giving Emperor Haile Selassie” in driving the fascists out of Ethiopia. He also points to the fact that since the raids over London, West Indian Negroes have been permitted to join the RAF. And beyond that he has nothing to say.

The fact that he can point to so few specific things which can be offered in England’s favor is proof Itself of the bankruptcy of Randolph’s position.

The Truth About Ethiopia

Imperialist Britain, which was largely responsible for Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, is now described as helping to free Ethiopia today! Even Randolph knows that this is a little too much to get people to swallow, so he tries to qualify it.

“There are those who cynically remark that England’s support of the freedom of Ethiopia is inspired by a selfish interest. There would be no point in denying this. It is true. But what is wrong with it? The motivation of all great power nations is self interest. Self interest is not to be condemned if it is not anti-social and reactionary. Here, the self interest of Great Britain takes the form of fighting to help restore the independence and liberty of a smaller, defenseless nation, and thereby serves the cause of humanity and justice, though, verily, this course of action be belated.”

Thus, according to Randolph, England isn’t fighting Germany because these two gangs of bandits each want control of the colonies and their to continue its exploitation of the 400,000,000 – it’s fighting because it is interested in the freedom of Ethiopia!

“Therefore,” he says, “the Battle of Britain is the Battle of America, and the Battle of America is the Battle of the Negro ...”

If England’s fight to maintain its death grip on the colonies is the Battle of the Negro, one may logically ask why give only aid “short of war”? Randolph’s only answer, when Roosevelt and the Sixty Families give the word, will be: That’s right, we’ve got to get into the war too. And again. Randolph will have no answer to those who try to point the correct path to the workers of the world: uniting Negro and white against the imperialist gangsters on both sides and taking power to set up a socialist society.

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