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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 August 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 33, 16 August 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Army and Segregations

A United Press dispatch from Fort Bragg, N.C., last week told of another of the tragic outbreaks between white and Negro solders that result from the Army-enforced system of segregation of all Negroes in the armed forces.

Like most of the other cases reported, this one came about when a southern white M.P. decided for some reason to arrest a Negro private. So far the only version of the story that has appeared has come from Army officials. According to them, Sergeant E.L. Hargraves attempted to arrest Private Ned Turman, a Negro soldier on a bus containing over a score of other Negroes. The Army does not mention why the arrest was being made.

Then, suddenly, if you can believe the story, Turman grabbed Hargraves’ gun and shot him to death. Other M.P.’s opened up and apparently shot at every one in the bus. Turman was killed, another Negro seriously wounded, and six others suffered “minor wounds.”

One does not have to know any more to understand what is really responsible for this tragedy, which is so like the hundreds of other cases in other camps.

By order from the White House, Negroes are separated from contact with white soldiers in every sphere of military life. White soldiers who do not already have it are thus inculcated with the theory of “white supremacy” and “Negro inferiority.” The situation is further aggravated by the inferior accommodations for the Negroes (in recreational facilities, etc.) and the lack of Negro officers and military police.

Thus, racial outbreaks are directly caused and indirectly encouraged by the Roosevelt system of Negro segregation.

An ironic twist ends the story. The Army officials decided that it was a bad situation, and that there might be further trouble. So:

All of the 4,000 Negroes in the camp were taken out and sent to another camp nine miles away.

The headline on the U.P. dispatch reads, “Negroes Segregated After M.P. Is Slain.” The Army solves a problem raised by its own segregation policies by deciding to segregate the segregated!

What Will the USO Do?

Since the Communist Party has decided that the boss government will defend the Soviet Union, it has also decided that the bosses will solve other problems as well.

In the August 7 issue of the Daily Worker was an account of the Jim Crow treatment of Negro soldiers in army recreational life. A few months ago the Stalinists said that only the united militant action of Negro and white workers could end this and all other forms of discrimination. Now however they say of the problem: “Here is a task for the United Service Organizations.”

If this is a task for the USG, then the workers don’t have to worry about it anymore.

The Stalinists are deliberately confusing the issue. They know as well as anyone else that the USO is not going to do any more about Jim Crowism than the YMCA and similar bodies did in World War I. They know that all the USO can do or will do for Negroes is establish a few segregated recreational centers for them.

All the USO intends to do is make the Army system of segregation and discrimination a little more acceptable to the Negro soldiers.

And with this the Stalinists would now be satisfied. They too know that the bosses and their organizations will not end Jim Crowism. With their present bootlicking support of the government, they themselves do not dare to conduct a fight against it. And so if the USO would make army Jim Crowism a little less harsh, they could go to the Negroes, hail this as a victory and use it to justify Negro support of the war.

A Correction by Pickens

William Pickens, now working for the U.S. Treasury, complained this week that “so many, misstatements have been made about my position” that he has to explain what it really is.

The misstatements he refers to are the attacks launched against him from many sources for taking a $6,000 a year job with the Treasury to sell “defense” bonds and support of the war to the impoverished Negro people who want no part of the war.

“I am ‘selling bonds’ and am not a salesman of any kind,” he says, “unless we use a figure of speech and call it ‘selling ideas’.”

So print the correction: Pickens is not selling bonds, he is just selling out.

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Last updated: 25 May 2016