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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.

(21 June 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 25, 21 June 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

[Supreme Court]

Many of the same people who are today asking Roosevelt to please, please, issue an executive order abolishing racial discrimination in all governmental spheres, are the same people who were appealing to him only a few months ago to please, please, not appoint Senator James F. Byrnes, South Carolina Democrat and open enemy of the Negro people, to the Supreme Court. Please, please, doesn’t get very far.

* * *

The Aviation Strike

J.H. Kindelberger, president and general manager of North American Aviation, Inc., who last week said of the strikers in his plant: “I don’t have to pay any more to my workers because most of them are young kids who spend their money on a flivver and a gal,” is the same man who recently stated about the North American plant being built in Kansas City: “Under no circumstances will Negroes be employed as aircraft workers or mechanics” – and that they would be hired only as janitors “regardless of their training as aircraft workers.”

This is also the man of whom Secretary of War Stimson declared last week: “There are not enough like him. We do not want to do injury to such a man.”

There were no Negroes employed by North American Aviation before the strike, when Kindelberger and the bosses were running the place. Now, when the government’s army is runnimg it, there are still no Negroes there and there is little likelihood that Roosevelt’s army will permit Negroes to get jobs there during the period that they remain in control. It won’t be until the workers themselves control the plants through democratically elected committees from the ranks of labor that Negroes will be able to secure employment in industry on a truly equal basis!

* * *

In last week’s Pittsburgh Courier, columnist Marjorie McKenzie complains that the present Administration has sidestepped the question of the Negro, and “we have been beguiled by some beautiful words and phrases” from Roosevelt. She also points out’ that under his present “emergency” powers Roosevelt could issue an executive order banning discrimination.

Then follow many sentences such as these:

“Our President is a man in whom the imagination leaps and dares beyond the puny dreams of those who follow his star. There is a course open to him as the Defender of Democracy which would commit him safely to the immortal company of men like Jefferson and Lincoln ... What surging, thrilling feeling would come to his heart and mind, should he pause to realize that with a simple, everyday gesture like signing an executive order, he could free thirteen million American men and women from slavery. Lincoln freed only three and a half million! ...” etc. etc.

Evidently Miss McKenzie thinks that she can “beguile” Roosevelt “by some beautiful words and phrases.”

William Pickens on His New Job

William Pickens is on the job! He is determined to keep that $500 a month job he has with the Treasury Department selling “Defense Bonds” to Negroes. From his first broadside, one would think that he has now solved all the problems of the Negro people. For he promises them everything – if only they will buy his bonds.

Why, if they spend the few dollars Jim Crow permits them to get, they will not only eat their cake, but they can have it too, he promises.

“Say, you are of small means, and you want to buy a $25 Bond. You have not the $25 to spare, you only earn $25 in a third of a month or half a month. But, you can always spare a dime, maybe a quarter. Therefore you begin by Saving Stamps for 10c or 25c. When you have bought enough to total $18.75, you buy a U.S. Government security worth $25 in a few years – and you, don’t have to keep it any longer than 60 days, in case you come to need the money badly. But every year you keep that $18.75 investment, the bigger it becomes.”

Thus, here is the economic answer to the Negroes. Why get all excited about jobs and equality in industry? Why hold picket-lines and demonstrations against Jim Crowism? Just buy Pickens’ “defense bonds,” and live off the fat of the land.

Pickens goes on:

“And that is not all: You are helping to defend your money and your OTHER property, and all your precious liberties, when you put that money into the U.S. Treasury. You, as a colored citizen, strike a blow at Hitler, who says that you are but a half ape ... You would be helping to give Mussolini the final kick out of Ethiopia, and to restore that country to its own black people. You. would be strengthening the position of your race in American citizenship ...”

Giving money to the Jim Crow government that treats you as though you are a half-ape, is that fighting Hitler? Fight Mussolini by giving money to a Jim Crow government that suppresses the American Negroes? Strengthen the position of your race in American citizenship by supporting the bosses’ government that treats you as a second-class citizen ? Pickens knows better. But that’s his job.

* * *

Dean Gordon Hancock, author of the column Between The Lines in the Chicago Sunday Bee, has a faculty for standing things on their head. In one of his latest outbursts, he says:

“Hitler has already served notice to the world what the Negro need expect. In the persecution of the Jews the Negro has been given a pattern of his estate under Hitlerism.”

But Hitler only applied to the Jews of Europe the treatment he observed applied in this democracy to the several million Negroes in the South.

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