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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 March 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 11, 15 March 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Jim Crow Plans of the Bourbons

There is an interesting story in Charley Cherokee’s column, National Grapevine, in the March 9 Issue of the Chicago Defender:

“Last week army big shots had a secret and informal session where they admitted concern over the attacks on the army for maintaining Jim Crow. One old colonel demanded peevishly: ‘Why in hell don’t they shoot at the navy and marines for a while?’ It was agreed that the program for the next few months will be to procrastinate and stall the critics by pointing to Brigadier General Davis and the Negro commissioned officers now on active duly ...

“These big shots are naive. Any Negro high school kid knows that General Davis will retire in a few months and that when the National Guards leave, there will hardly be a commissioned Negro officer in the army.”

* * *

That the conditions described about the Negro in the first world war in the series of articles by Eugene Varlin in The Militant hold true for today was corroborated by Duncan Aikman in his series of articles on the “national defense” program currently appearing in the Washington Post:

“I found a widespread inclination throughout the South to look upon the defense crisis as another crisis in labor relations. Southerner after Southerner, in various economic brackets, said to me substantially this:

“We’re not going to let the colored man come out of this war on top of the heap the way he did in the last one.”

“That means, and plenty of Southerners state it specifically, no colored officers, this time; no colored skilled labor training and, if avoidable, not even colored combat regiments.”

* * *

The Negro worker certainly did not come out on top of the heap in the last war, but what these southern crackers mean was that in the labor shortage of the last war many Negroes left the South for jobs in the industries of the North.

According to a speech at Kentucky State College by Robert Weaver, Negro administrative assistant of the advisory commission to the National Defense Council, the crackers need not worry about a repetition of what happened in the last war.

For the Negro is being kept out in the cold in the present industrial boom, according to Weaver, and from present indications, he will continue to be kept there. What is chiefly required by industry today is skilled and semi-skilled labor. The Negro, by and large, has been and is denied the opportunity to get skilled training.

Discrimination in Military Training

The Afro-American this week showed that Jim Crow treatment of the Negro soldiers is just as well organized in the northern camps as it is in the southern.

It showed that while the 20,000 or more white soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., have been given training with rifles, steel helmets, masks, etc., “and afforded miles of wide open space for sham battles,” “the 381 colored selectees of company E are forced to drill on an acre plot without as much as a broomstick.”

“White army officials who were approached (for an explanation) appeared more eager to discuss the musical and entertainment abilities of the men.

“While none would admit that racial discrimination and segregation is being practiced at the post, all point with pride to the new cantonment area for the 372nd Infantry Regiment which is located beyond Hopkinsville – nearly three miles from the nearest white cantonment, and will be occupied around March 10.

“The cantonment, which will house 3,000 troops, in view of its isolated location, is definitely a segregated set-up.

“Because of the objection of the Southern white soldiers to sitting in the theatre with the colored soldiers, a separate theatre has been built the 372nd.

“Other entertainment features have also been taken care of in order that the colored troops will have no reason to leave their own cantonment. One high army official hinted that the 372nd will have its own maneuver area.”

* * *

“England is not perfect, but she is better than Germany,” said the good Bishop J.K. Humphrey of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in New York last week. “Every Negro who wants to see Germany win ought to be sent to Germany, where he will be castrated.”

By the same logic one could insist that every American Negro who wants to see the victory of the British Empire, which rules over more than 100,000,000 colored people in the same way that Hitler rules over his subjects, himself, should be sent to Africa, where he will be castrated economically, politically and socially.

* * *

2,500 West Indians at a mass meeting in Port Au Spain, Trinidad, passed resolutions last month demanding (1) the outlawing of United States Jim Crow on British bases being leased to the U.S. and (2) payment of the same wages for labor by the U.S. in the British West Indies as in the Virgin Islands and Cuba.

West Indies wages, according to Nancy Cunard, are now:

Pork, she points out, costs 30¢ a pound.

Wages in the Virgin Islands are 17¢ an hour, and in Cuba on “national defense work” $2.24 a day.

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