Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Black Women and the Fight for Access to Public Transportation

FROM ELIZABETH JENNINGS GRAHAM, IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT TO CLAUDETTE COLVIN AND ROSA PARKS, AFRICAN AMERICANS HAVE BEEN PIONEERS IN ENDING RACIAL SEGREGATION

March 15, 2021 fwstaff  Black Women and the Fight for Access to Public Transportation – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Many people in the United States are aware of the struggle for Civil Rights led by African Americans during the post-World War II period from the late 1940s right through the early 1970s.

Rosa L. Parks, of Alabama, gained international acclaim for her refusal to yield her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus on December 1, 1955. Parks’ stance and the organizing work done by the Women’s Political Council led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) which conducted a year-long bus boycott that forced the courts to end segregation practices in the city’s public transportation system. It was the actions organized by the African American community in Montgomery that catapulted a young 26-year-old minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., into national prominence.

After the developments in Montgomery, the broader movement to end Jim Crow and win universal suffrage gained momentum resulting in numerous court rulings, legislative initiatives and executive orders striking down the legalized “separate but equal” U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1896 in the Plessy v. Ferguson case.

Elizabeth Jennings Graham and the Campaign against Segregation in New York City

Yet the antecedents for the Montgomery Bus Boycott can be traced back as far as July 1854, when African American teacher and musician, Elizabeth Jennings, attempted to board a horse-drawn streetcar in New York City. Jennings, only 24 at the time, was told she could not ride in the car because she was Black.

Jennings immediately objected to the order made by the driver and demanded the right to ride to the First Colored American Congregational Church where she served as the organist. The white driver attempted to remove her physically as she continued to resist. Later a police officer was summoned and the two white men forcefully ejected Jennings from the streetcar.

Her own account, which was published in at least two journals, the New York Daily Tribune and Frederick Douglass’s papers, Jennings emphasized: “I…told him I was a respectable person, born and raised in New York, did not know where he was born, that I had never been insulted before while going to church and that he was a good for nothing impudent fellow for insulting decent persons while on their way to church.”

Jennings’ father, Thomas L. Jennings, was a Free African who had built a skills trade as a tailor. He had gained enormous stature in the New York Black community due to his successful efforts to purchase the freedom of Elizabeth’s mother, of the same name, from enslavement. Thomas L. Jennings supported his daughter Elizabeth in her effort to acquire justice.

At this time in New York City, the omnibuses and streetcars were owned by private corporations. Many of the companies would not allow African Americans to ride or if they did, maintained strict segregationist policies.

An article published in the New York Tribune in February 1855 about the incident involving Jennings said: “The conductor undertook to get her off, first alleging the car was full, when that was shown to be false. He pretended the other passengers were displeased at her presence. But [when] she insisted on her rights, he took hold of her by force to expel her. She resisted. The conductor got her down on the platform, jammed her bonnet, soiled her dress and injured her person. Quite a crowd gathered. But she effectively resisted. Finally, after the car had gone on further, with the aid of a policeman they succeeded in removing her.”

The legal case would be decided in 1855 after 24-year-old Attorney Chester A. Arthur argued successfully before Brooklyn Circuit Court Judge William Rockwell who ruled in Jennings’ favor. Arthur would later become Vice-President in 1881 and succeeded James Garfield after his assassination the same year. Jennings was awarded monetary damages for the acts of discrimination and violence by the conductor and policeman.

Nonetheless, it would take another two decades of mass actions and legal work to end segregation completely within the New York transportation system. Rallies were held immediately at the First Colored American Congregational Church after the incident involving Jennings. Eventually in 1874, a Civil Rights Act was passed outlawing segregation in the state of New York.

One account of Jennings’ life after 1855 noted: “In 1860, Jennings married a man named Charles Graham. Their only son, Thomas J. Graham, fell ill and died in infancy in 1863. Charles passed away a few years later in 1867. Jennings continued to teach, first at the private African Free School and later in the public schools. She also founded the city’s first kindergarten for African American children, operating it from her home just south of Longacre Square (now Times Square). On June 5, 1901, Jennings passed away at age 74 and was buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery alongside Charles and Thomas.”

Legacy Continued for More Than a Century

By 1883, Ida B. Wells-Barnett had become a teacher and journalist in Memphis, Tennessee, a thriving southern municipality with a highly politicized African American population emerging in the aftermath of enslavement and the Civil War. In 1866, white racist mobs would attack the Black community in Memphis prompted by a conflict over the disarmament of Civil War-era militias staffed by African Americans.

Wells had graduated from Rust College in Mississippi where she was born in 1862 as an enslaved African during the Civil War. Her parents and grandparents died during the yellow fever epidemic of the late 1870s which struck Mississippi and southwest Tennessee.

The known introduction of Wells to political agitation occurred in 1883 when she was forcefully ejected from a non-smoking (women’s car) on the Chesapeake, Ohio and Southwestern Railroad Company line. She filed a lawsuit against the company and won an initial judgement. The case was later overturned on appeal. However, Wells would go on to serve as a co-publisher of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper which was circulated in large areas throughout Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. She became known nationally after her outspoken response to the lynching of three of her friends in Memphis during 1892.

Eventually, Wells’ newspaper offices were firebombed while she was out of the city on a speaking tour. Her business partner barely escaped with his life. Later Wells would lead an international campaign against lynching in the U.S.

She would relocate to Chicago and marry Ferdinand Barnett in 1895, an attorney and newspaper publisher as well. Wells became a co-founder of the African American women’s club movement which organized hundreds of thousands across the U.S. within cities and rural areas. Wells became an advocate of women’s suffrage and marched defiantly in the front rows of the 1913 national march in Washington, D.C. demanding the passage of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right of women to vote, which was later ratified in 1920.

Wells-Barnett’s political origins are inextricably linked to the struggle for access to public transportation on a non-discriminatory basis. Her efforts would lay the groundwork for the emergence of the modern movements for Civil Rights, Black Power and Self-Determination in the U.S.

Lessons from Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin: The Struggle for Public Access Continues

Several months prior to the arrest of Rosa L. Parks in Montgomery, Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old African American youth, was arrested for refusing to yield her seat to a white woman. The act of defiance by Colvin illustrated clearly that the national mood among Black people was shifting during the mid-1950s.

Nevertheless, for various reasons Colvin’s case did not get the attention that Parks’ did in 1955-56, although she was a plaintiff in the landmark case of Browder v. Gayle, which ended segregation in public transportation in Montgomery. Colvin was an adolescent and an expectant mother. Many in Montgomery felt that the case could have been exploited by segregationists. Parks was a 42-year-old seamstress with a long history of political involvement dating back to the defense campaign of the Scottsboro Boys in the early 1930s in Alabama. The young men were falsely charged with rape of two white women on a freight train in 1931. Only a years-long campaign spared them from the electric chair.

Later Parks was active around the effort to win justice for a 24-year-old African American woman, Recy Taylor, who was gang raped by six white hoodlums while walking home from church in Abbeville, Alabama in September 1944. Although the whites were never held accountable for their crimes, the incident further exposed the degree of impunity exercised by segregationists during the period. At the time of her arrest, Parks was the secretary of the Montgomery National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and also worked with E.D. Nixon, a leader within the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, an African American labor organization based in the railroad industry.

Although in the 21st century African Americans ostensibly have fundamental rights to public access and due process, the inequalities of national oppression persist. Municipalities and rural areas are facing even deeper cuts in public services amid the rising gap between the wealthy and the working class. These inequalities are more pronounced when race and nationality are taken into consideration.

Today the struggle for access must encompass the demands related to the need to increase funding for public transportation. Public transportation ranks among other major necessities which must be won by the people including the right to housing, water, utilities, education, environmental quality along with freedom from racist violence and state repression.

Thousands Still Being Held in Detention on the Southern Border

Mounting political problems of migration for the Biden administration threaten to consume his presidency

By Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Wednesday March 31, 2021 Commentary

Media accounts in the United States have shown that thousands of migrant workers and their families are being held in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention facilities in the state of Texas.

Since the advent of the new administration which took office on January 20, the numbers of people seeking admission to the U.S. has continued to increase exponentially.

Although President Joe Biden has appointed his Vice President Kamala Harris to address and contain the burgeoning crisis, it is quite obvious that the federal government does not have the organizational capacity or the political will to effectively resolve the issue. The question of immigration into the U.S. is closely linked to the imperialist foreign policy of Washington and Wall Street which has systematically exploited and oppressed the masses of people within the Central America region and Mexico. 

For several weeks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its affiliates within the immigration and border services concealed the actual conditions prevailing inside the detention facilities. However, Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (Democrat) traveled to one of the CBP centers and released photographs and videos of the overcrowded and unsanitary situation facing children and adults.

On March 30, several members of the corporate press were allowed to enter the CBP detention facility in Donna, Texas where the images were taken and published during the previous week. The release of the initial photographs earlier in March, sparked sharp criticisms of the Biden administration from Democrats, Republicans and independent political forces. Immediately, Biden deployed a delegation to Texas while announcing that two military bases would be opened to house unaccompanied children seeking to enter the U.S. Nonetheless, the president has refused to declare the situation on the southern border and within the migrant detention facilities as a national crisis requiring immediate executive and legislative measures.

Many thousands are continuing to move throughout the Central America and Mexico region with the aim of entering the U.S. often in efforts to reconnect with family members. A recent British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report filmed in Mexico, illustrates the human trafficking operations taking place from Central America. Couriers are paid large sums of money to smuggle people across dangerous waterways and rural areas until they reach the border between Mexico and Guatemala. People are fleeing from poverty, the tyranny of drug lords and the impact of drought largely stemming from climate change. (https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-56514320)

An article published by the Associated Press on the media delegation which visited the Texas facility says that: “The Biden administration for the first time Tuesday (March 30) allowed journalists inside its main border detention facility for migrant children, revealing a severely overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 people, including children and families, were crammed into a space intended for 250 and the youngest were kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping. With thousands of children and families arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks and packing facilities, President Joe Biden has been under pressure to bring more transparency to the process. U.S. Customs and Border Protection allowed two journalists from The Associated Press and a crew from CBS to tour the facility in Donna, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, the nation’s busiest corridor for illegal crossings.” (https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-immigration-texas-59d0eafb23d135f901dfc50ff326cfcd)

Concurrently, the Biden administration is continuing the same immigration policy of expelling entire families with children along with adults traveling on their own under the Trump-era public health regulations enacted during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrastingly, the Biden White House says that it will not expel unaccompanied minors and children while seeking to house these juveniles in better facilities. (https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-56595930)

Criminalization of the Plight of Migrant Workers and Their Families

When the migrants are detained and moved into the CBP detention facilities they are given medical examinations and psychological evaluations, according to the officials. The children are checked for lice and if they show symptoms of coronavirus they are supposed to be placed in some form of isolation.

Nevertheless, in viewing the photographs released by both Congressman Cuellar and the media delegation from March 30, it becomes quite obvious that these facilities where migrant workers and children are being detained are incubators for infectious diseases. After the detainees are processed through examinations, photographs and psychological evaluations, they are given notices of when to appear before an immigration court. 

U.S. immigration officials claim that if the children have contact information for relatives living in the country, they are allowed to inform them of their status. However, many of these relatives themselves maybe living as undocumented persons and are reluctant to come forward. The detainees are fingerprinted as well placing them within the federal law-enforcement system for future monitoring.

In the same report quoted earlier in this article, it says of the flow of migrants into the U.S.: “The Border Patrol is apprehending far more children daily than Health and Human Services is placing with U.S. sponsors, leading to a severe backlog in the system. The Border Patrol generally is not supposed to detain children for more than three days, but Health and Human Services lacks space. More than 2,000 kids have been at the Donna facility for more than 72 hours, including 39 for more than 15 days. HHS is housing children at convention centers in Dallas and San Diego and is opening large-scale sites in San Antonio, El Paso and elsewhere.” 

Consequently, these families will remain separated for the unforeseeable future. The living circumstances in the CBP and HHS facilities will make the migrant workers and children susceptible to contracting coronavirus and other illnesses at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases are surging in more than half of the states threatening the advent of a fourth wave in the U.S., the country with the most infections internationally. The trauma of residing in these detention centers could scar the psychological make-up of both the adults and children held in custody along with their families living both outside and inside the U.S.

Federal Government Must Take Immediate Action on Immigration Reform

The Biden administration can no longer ignore the escalating numbers of migrants attempting to enter the U.S. Policy initiatives to provide vaccinations and economic relief to millions of people, cannot be utilized as an excuse for inaction on the border crisis. 

New legislation and executive orders are required to address the needs of the migrants seeking asylum. The aggressive military and economic policies of the government and corporations should be curtailed in order to provide relief to people living in Mexico and Central America.

This crisis has its origins within domestic and foreign policy imperatives of the U.S. which are designed to maintain white supremacy, enhance capitalist exploitation and the imperialist plunder of Latin America and the Caribbean. The influx of migrants into the U.S. is a manifestation of the more than three decades of wars waged against the peoples of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. 

Tens of millions of people living in these geo-political regions targeted by Washington, the European Union, NATO and their allies are being forced from their homes. The economies under which they live have been destroyed through wars of occupation and the enactment of globalization which stifles the capacity of people to build an independent existence. 

Imperialist war and the unquenchable demand by the capitalist states for the land, resources, waterways and labor of the majority of the world’s population has prompted the large-scale displacement of an estimated 75 million people worldwide. The problems of migration from the oppressed nations can only be resolved by a radical transformation of the industrialized countries of Western Europe and North America. 

Failed Foreign and Immigration Policies Underline Crisis on the Southern Border

MORE THAN TWO CENTURIES OF WAR AND ECONOMIC EXPLOITATION HAS CHARACTERIZED THE UNITED STATES’ ROLE IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

March 30, 2021 fwstaff  Failed Foreign and Immigration Policies Underline Crisis on the Southern Border – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Federal CBP facility in Texas Federal CBP facility in Texas. | Photo: Cong. Henry Cuellar

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Since coming to office on January 20, the administration of President Joe Biden has faced a mounting problem of managing the influx of migrant workers and their families on the southern border with Mexico.

Although these issues have been largely ignored by the president and his spokespersons, daily reports of thousands of people, including unaccompanied children, crossing the border intoTexas has created a political problem for the new president and the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives and Senate.

Biden has so far refused to characterize the situation as a crisis. Nonetheless, photographs and videos posted by a Congressional representative on March 22, have alarmed advocates for immigration rights along with broad segments of the population in the United States.

Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas, visited a recently opened detention facility for migrants located in Donna, Texas. Cuellar’s images show people sleeping on floor mattresses in crowded conditions which are not conducive to preventing the transmission of COVID-19 infections.

In an article published by The Hill on March 22 which discussed the visit by Cuellar to the detention center, it says: “A spokesperson for Cuellar declined to say who provided the photos to the border-district lawmaker. Cuellar told Axios, which first obtained the photos, that the facility amounted to ‘terrible conditions for the children’ and that they should be moved into care from the Department of Health and Human Services instead of Customs and Border Protection.”

Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, has spoken to television news programs in an effort to contain the political fallout from the crisis. Mayorkas says that the Biden administration is working to transfer migrant children from the CBP detention camps to the custody of HHS. Nonetheless, a clear administration policy remains elusive while Biden has said to the media that migrants from Central America and Mexico should not come into the U.S.

Katharina Buchholz wrote in a report for the statista online website that: “According to figures released by Customs and Border Protection, more than 9,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border in February, compared to just over 5,600 in January. For family units, numbers skyrocketed, with almost 19,000 individuals in family units (adults and children) detained, compared to just approximately 7,000 in January. A surge facility for unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border had reopened as of late February, the AP reports.”

On March 24, the administration announced that it would allow some members of the corporate media to enter the migrant detention camps to observe the conditions. Prior to this time, White House officials have said that due to the pandemic access to the facilities housing migrants would not be open for viewing.

Another statement from the Biden team on March 24 said that two military facilities in Texas would be opened for the temporary housing of migrants. However, many people including children, are being returned to Mexico on a daily basis by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. The Biden administration deployed a delegation to the southern border on March 24 in order to create an appearance of concern and effective response.

U.S. Has Maintained Imperialist Foreign Policy Throughout the Region

Many of the people crossing the border into the U.S. are from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. All of these states have been subjected to the unwarranted interference into their internal affairs by successive U.S. administrations dating back to the early 19th century.

The destabilization and overthrow of the governments of Guatemala (1954), El Salvador (1980s) and Honduras (2009) has created monumental social problems inside their countries. These historical realities are compounded by the economic policies of U.S.-based multinational corporations which have ruthlessly exploited the land, resources and labor of the peoples of Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

The plight of the people suffering from the social impact of imperialist foreign policy initiatives by the U.S. government and corporations, has provided a mechanism for enhancing institutional racism on a domestic level. This was evident under the Trump administration when migrants from Mexico and other Latin American states were scapegoated as being violent criminals belonging to gangs.

However, the problems of immigration did not begin under the Trump administration. The problem is deeply connected with the overall racist and imperialist domestic and foreign policy imperatives of Washington and Wall Street.

Predatory loans and the super-exploitation of agricultural and industrial labor within the region has done more to break down society’s worsening impoverishment and geographical dislocation. These are the factors that must be taken into consideration when analyzing the rapidly increasing numbers of those attempting to enter the U.S.

And certainly the climate-change-sourced droughts and devastating storms spawned by Western imperialism have devastated the livelihoods of millions of farm families in the entire region, forcing  them to flee their homes or face starvation..Even under the administration of former President Barack Obama, more people were deported from the U.S. than in any other time in history. Biden was questioned on several occasions in 2019-2020 during his campaign appearances about the legacy of the Obama-era immigration policy and the damage it inflicted on families and communities. His responses always sought to avoid the actual situation which prevailed during those years when he served as Vice President.

It was the administration of President George W. Bush which established the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the aftermath of the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. The DHS sought to bring all of the intelligence and enforcement agencies within the U.S. government under one umbrella. This process of the further centralization and militarization of intelligence and federal law-enforcement has never been opposed by the two Democratic administrations of Obama and subsequently, the Biden program has remained silent on these important questions as well.

Those countries within the Caribbean, Central America and South America which have sought to break the chains of imperialist hegemony are under constant threat by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the State Department and the Pentagon. Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador among others, are being undermined through the foreign policy directives of Washington and the psychological warfare propaganda of the corporate and government-controlled media outlets in the U.S.

Immigrant Rights and Anti-Imperialism Are One Struggle

Any movement to end U.S. militarism in Latin America is inextricably linked to the struggle against national oppression and institutional racism. In fact, the social dynamics of the current situation is connected to the interventionist policies of the Pentagon and State Department in other geo-political regions.

African migrant workers from the continent have travelled to South American states such as Brazil. These workers may later leave Brazil or other states in the region in an effort to cross the border with the U.S. from Mexico.

Tens of millions of people have been displaced throughout large swaths of Asia and Africa directly stemming from the wars of imperialist aggression launched by the Pentagon, NATO and its allies. The influx of African and Asian migrants into Europe has provided a milieu for the growth of neo-fascist political parties and groupings which oppose immigration from oppressed nations along with the denial of fundamental human rights to these impacted nationalities.

The hostility embedded in the domestic and foreign policy of Washington towards the peoples of Africa, Asia-Pacific Islands and Latin America along with other Indigenous and oppressed peoples is designed to foster racial segregation and economic exploitation. People inside the imperialist states can make an enormous contribution to humanity by engaging with social forces committed to ending all forms of discrimination, national oppression and imperialism.

Despite Official Denials Racist Violence Against Asians Continue in the United States

SHOOTING OF ASIAN WOMEN IN GEORGIA OCCURRED AMID WHITE SUPREMACIST RESURGENCE

March 27, 2021 fwstaff Despite Official Denials Racist Violence Against Asians Continue in the United States – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

WEB Du Bois with Japanese people

By Abayomi Azikiwe

March is International Women’s History Month and the threats towards oppressed and racially marginalized people in the United States are intensifying.

An attack by a 21-year-old white male against three Asian-owned spas in Atlanta and Cherokee County in Georgia resulted in the shooting deaths of eight people including six women of Asian descent.

Corporate and government-controlled media outlets in the U.S. have been either hesitant or resistant to labelling these incidents as hate crimes which were racially motivated. Nonetheless, a number of Asian American leaders who have been interviewed on these same television channels and websites are clearly saying that the mass killings in Georgia cannot be viewed in isolation from the escalation of hostilities since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 as well as a centuries-long history of discrimination directed towards Asian people.

The Georgia shootings occurred while there are daily reports of Asians and Asian Americans being routinely insulted and physically assaulted on the streets of numerous municipalities from New York City to the Bay Area of California. Former U.S. President Donald Trump utilized the coronavirus pandemic as a weaponized foreign policy tool to justify his tariffs imposed during the early phase of his administration.

Often referring to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan and China Virus”, the former president, known for his bigoted attitudes, deliberately sought to promote hatred towards Asian people in the U.S. and internationally. These statements compounded the false notions of Asian people not being a part of U.S. society whether they were born inside the country or not.

For several decades since the advent of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in the U.S., the ruling class has attempted to craft an image of Asians as a “model minority” which is not concerned with demonstrations and other political actions related to ending racism and national oppression. They present the false narratives aimed at dividing the non-European sectors of the population. The discriminatory practices and stereotypes which characterize Asians as a “permanent other”, the contradictions between the a-political characterizations of the community and the actual impact of racial violence are being illustrated by the corporate media.

Consequently, the failure of leading corporate news agencies and government outlets to describe the attacks in Georgia as racist hate crimes, speaks to the ongoing efforts by the state and ruling class to deny the basis for unity among people of color communities. For example, when vigilantes and police killed Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Hakim Littleton, among others during 2020, the question of racial motivation was immediately raised from the masses of African Americans and their allies around the U.S. This could not be ignored by the mainstream media as millions poured into the streets across the country and the world in response to racist violence.

According to an article published by The Conversation online news magazine, Prof. Pawan Dhingra, a sociologist and expert in American Studies at Amherst College, wrote on the present situation saying: “I have researched and taught on Asian America for 20 years, including on the pernicious effects of stereotypes and attacks on individuals. Race can play a role in violence and prejudice, even if the offender does not clearly express a racist intent. Much remains unknown about the attacks in Atlanta, but the man charged with the murders has said he did not have a racial prejudice against people of Asian descent. Rather, he has claimed he has a sexual addiction. But that statement indicates that he assumed these women were prostitutes, whether that is true or not. This assumption, and the resulting violence, is just one of many that Asian Americans have suffered through the years.”

History of Racism Against Asians in the U.S.

There has also been the tendency within the corporate media to frame the attacks and discriminatory behavior towards Asian people within the context of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Yet this notion obscures and distorts the actual social status of Asian people in the U.S.

Since at least the 19th century, Congress and successive administrations have enacted laws designed to restrict the number of Asians allowed into the country. There are numerous incidents of massacres and lynching directed against the Asian communities. In 1942, after a declaration of war against Imperial Japan, 110,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly detained and relocated to internment camps until 1945 when the administration of President Harry Truman utilized two atomic weapons in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Pre-school children on the way to their barrack homes from morning class - Dorothea Lange Pre-school children on the way to their barrack homes from morning class. | Photo: Dorothea Lange

The same article mentioned above by Prof. Dhingra notes that the racial and gender characteristics of discrimination and violence date back long before the recent rash of attacks:

“The presupposed connection between Asian women and sex dates back almost 150 years. In 1875, the U.S. Congress passed the Page Act, which effectively barred Chinese women from immigrating, because it was impossible to tell if they were travelling ‘for lewd and immoral purposes,’ including ‘for purposes of prostitution’. The assumption that all Chinese women were of questionable moral character placed the burden on the women themselves to somehow prove they were not prostitutes before being allowed to immigrate.”

Later in 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to deny citizenship to immigrant workers many of whom built large sections of the U.S. railway systems. One source on the rationale behind the legislation emphasizes that: “The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. Many Americans on the West Coast attributed declining wages and economic ills to Chinese workers. Although the Chinese composed only .002 percent of the nation’s population, Congress passed the exclusion act to placate worker demands and assuage prevalent concerns about maintaining white ‘racial purity.’”

The degree to which workers in the U.S., presumably white workers, were opposed to Chinese immigration, represented the impact of bourgeois ideology on the European American population groups which are often convinced that any social gains made by oppressed peoples of color calculates as a net loss for their elevated class status. Even today in the 21st century, the hostilities expressed towards the peoples of Asia within various U.S. political circles and the capitalist-oriented media, further reinforce the violence and repression against Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples.

The Foreign Policy Dimension and Specter of Socialism

Underlying a considerable portion of the antagonistic posture towards Asians is the role of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) related to its development over the last 72 years. China is led by the Communist Party which directs large sections of the economy and state structures.

The first diplomatic engagement between the administration of President Joe Biden and the PRC was disastrous, leading to no substantial agreements among the two leading economies in the world. Washington, represented by Secretary of State Antony Blinken took on the historic Cold War posture accusing China of attempting to spread its influence within the Asia-Pacific region. Nonetheless, the U.S. has failed in all of its military adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Palestine, creating the large-scale deaths, injuries and displacements of millions throughout the globe.

Although the State Department accused China of human rights violations against Muslims, the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan, Beijing responded by pointing to the racial oppression which remains pervasive in the U.S. Ironically, these remarks by the Biden administration came during the same week as the mass shooting of eight people in Georgia, six of whom were of Asian descent.

U.S. imperialist ambitions inherently clash with the aspirations of socialist countries and the national liberation movements. Consequently, people in the U.S. must turn away from national chauvinism and racism which guides the domestic and foreign policies of the capitalist state and the ruling class.

The Defund Oakland Police Coalition Celebrates Major Victory

IN RESPONSE TO EXTENSIVE ORGANIZING, OAKLAND’S TASK FORCE TO REIMAGINE PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUED KEY RECOMMENDATIONS TO DEFUND OPD & HOLD THE CITY ACCOUNTABLE

March 22, 2021 fwstaff  The Defund Oakland Police Coalition Celebrates Major Victory – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

By Defund Police Coalition – Press statement

(Oakland, CA)—As a result of extensive organizing by the Defund Police Coalition (Defund OPD), an Anti Police-Terror Project [APTP] led coalition, Oakland’s Reimagining Public Safety Task Force last night finalized a proposal of bold, smart and transformative recommendations that will completely reimagine public safety in Oakland. These final recommendations will be submitted to City Council on April 1st. With these recommendations the people of Oakland are leading the way for the nation to reimagine public safety and divert bloated police department budgets to community services that actually keep us safe. This is the second significant victory just this week for the people of Oakland in the yearslong campaign to defund Oakland police. On Tuesday the City Council voted to create a new police free mental health program in Oakland (called MACRO). This is on the heels of APTPs successful launch of MH1st, Oakland’s only non 9-1-1 mental health response hotline. The Defund OPD Coalition now demands that the city create a scaffolded plan to realize it’s commitment to the people of Oakland of defunding the Oakland Police Department by fifty percent and reinvesting those funds in our communities.

The Task Force was created in direct response to significant local demand to redirect monies from the Oakland Police Department to programs, support services and resources that take a holistic view of public safety and focus on addressing the root causes of so-called “crime” rather than relying on militarized policing and a violent, cyclical carceral state. It is clear to all Oaklanders, from the flats to the hills, that the safest communities do not have the most cops, they have the most resources.

 “The creation of the Task Force, with the stated goal of defunding OPD by fifty percent and reinvesting in our communities, was a response to the overwhelming public demand to reimagine public safety. Thanks to APTP and Defund Oakland Police coalition’s organizing, the Task Force advisory boards have proposed a set of bold, smart, transformative recommendations that will completely reimagine public safety in Oakland. At a time when bodies are falling across Oakland due to intercommunal violence it is clearer than ever that the policing status quo does not keep us safe. It is time to reimagine public safety—it’s a matter of life and death. We will now hold the city council accountable to its promise and demand that the city create a plan to quickly realize it’s commitment to the people of Oakland of defunding the Oakland Police Department by fifty percent and reinvesting those funds in our community.” said Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project.

Five years ago the Anti Police-Terror Project launched the Defund OPD Campaign. The campaign has now evolved to a coalition of 13 BIPOC-led grassroots organizations* with decades-long roots in Oakland and tens of thousands of active members in the flatlands amongst them. Last month the Coalition published an in depth report responding to the original 147 recommendations produced by the Task Force. Today is a pivotal success by the coalition to reimagine public safety through radical investment in our communities.

“The demands of Oaklanders are clear. The only way forward is to divest from our bloated police budget to proven drivers of public safety such as schools, mental health, jobs, transformative justice, and violence prevention. We must end the state violence against Black and Brown people in Oakland. It is time to reallocate police resources to critical and effective community programs. That is why the Oakland Rising collaborative organizations are in full support of the recommendations highlighted by APTP and the Defund OPD Coalition and demand that the City Council commit to these recommendations and present the people of Oakland with a scaffolded plan to defund OPD by fifty percent.” said liz suk, Executive Director of Oakland Rising. 

The 17 person Task Force engaged in an arduous process that involved hundreds of Advisory Board members dedicating countless hours to researching and reviewing recommendations that would achieve the Task Force’s goal of reimagining public safety and defunding the Oakland Police Department by fifty percent. These volunteers gave an incredible offering and the Task Force’s final vote last night is the closure of a pivotal chapter in realizing the city’s commitment to defund the Oakland Police Department and refunding our communities.

“Today is a significant victory for the people of Oakland. For over five years, APTP’s Defund Oakland Police coalition has led the call to Defund OPD and invest in the resources that actually address and prevent violence. We issued a demand to the city that OPD’s budget be cut by 50% and have strongly endorsed specific Task Force recommendations that remain true to the city’s commitment to relocate these savings into community programs and police alternatives. The people of Oakland do not want reforms that will require further resources for policing. They want the City to make good on their promise by accepting key recommendations and presenting the public with a plan to cut down OPD’s budget by fifty percent and reinvest in our communities.” James Burch policy director for APTP and The Justice Teams Network. James is a member of the Task Force.

Of the 35 priority recommendations made by APTP and the defund coalition, 33 went through.

The Task Force made over 30 recommendations that will reimagine public safety. Each of these recommendations moves beyond typical calls for police ‘reform’ that would maintain the status quo and instead reimagine an Oakland where investments are made into the services that actually secure public safety. Here are some of highlights:

Fund/create community hotlines and transfer 911 call center out of OPD (#58),

This is the recommendation to support Mental Health First, the program created by APTP to provide non-police emergency services to folks experiencing a mental health crisis.

Immediately make long-term investment in MACRO (#57)

Renegotiate OPOA MOU in 2021 instead of 2024 (#44).

Repealing laws that criminalizing homeslsessness & poverty (#64)

Cap OPD overtime (#89)

Invest in gender-based violence prevention (#72, #73, #74 & #149)

Establish public works street team/custodial stewards (#95) such as the the Chinatown community ambassador model

Invest in community workers and violence interrupters (#144)

In spite of the city’s commitment to reducing the police budget by fifty percent, Mayor Libby Shaaf has thus far refused to support the Task Force’s recommendations. Refusing to embrace these recommendations is a commitment to a system that perpetuates violence against Black and Brown Oaklanders and is a totally inefficient use of city resources.

“While it may not be obvious to the Mayor, the people of Oakland are clear: we do not need more cops on the street. We need the city to slash the OPD budget and refund housing, mental health services, healthcare, union jobs, and education so we can all thrive. That is why I fully support the recommendations put forward by APTP and  the Defund Police Coalition report. The City should trust the experts from our communities on how to reimagine public safety and reinvest in services that actually keep us safe,” said George Galvis, executive director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice.

The Task Force recommendations will be submitted to City Council on April 1. We strongly encourage all Oaklanders to contact their elected representative to say they want the City Council to accept the recommendations from the Task Force and put forth a proposal to defund the Oakland Police Department and reinvest in our communities.

For well over a decade, Oakland has been America’s vanguard for criminal “justice” reform and as we go, so does the nation. We receive weekly calls and emails from organizers in cities across the country for consultation and guidance. We must extract every possible win for the people in this moment; defund police, invest in community, build alternative models, love our people and free ourselves to dream of a world where we end the insane practice of trying to create peace with more violence.

* The Defund Oakland Police Coalition is a coalition of 13 BIPOC-led grassroots organizations with decades-long roots in Oakland and tens of thousands of active members amongst them. It consists of the following groups: Anti Police-Terror Project, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Bay Rising, Black Organizing Project, Causa Justa-Just Cause, Community Ready Corps, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, Critical Resistance, East Bay Alliance for A Sustainable Economy, Ella Baker Center, Oakland Rising, and the Urban Peace Movement.

Black Georgia Rep Arrested for Knocking on a Door

SHE WAS DEFENDING BLACK VOTERS AGAINST JIM CROW VOTER SUPPRESSION

March 30, 2021 fwstaff 

Park Cannon, African American legislator arrested in Georgia state capitol building. | Photo: Alyssa Pointer / Atlanta Journal Constitution via AP

By Fighting Words Staff

Klan thugs dressed in Georgia State Trooper uniforms handcuff and drag Black Georgia State Representative Park Cannon backwards to a cop car, arresting her for defending her constituents’ voting rights by knocking on the governor’s door at the Georgia Capitol Building. She faces serious felony charges.

The governor was signing a bill straight out of the Jim Crow era denying voting rights to millions of Black Georgians.

This comes less than three months after a neo-Klan mob smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol, injuring many and even killing a cop, with the express purpose of overturning the votes by millions of people of color. They were all allowed to leave town unmolested and only a fraction of those have been arrested, mostly on minor charges.

Lawsuits Filed Against Trump and Neo-Klan Groups Using Reconstruction’s Anti-Klan Law

March 7, 2021 fwstaff 

Lawsuits filed against Trump and neo-Klan groups using Reconstruction’s anti-Klan Law – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Mass mobilizations along with legal action can stop the fascists.

By Chris Fry

On November 20, 2020, the Detroit NAACP filed a lawsuit in Washington District Court on behalf of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization against the Michigan Trump Campaign. Utilizing the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, which the suit says enables the enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, it says that Trump attempted to coerce Michigan election officials to disregard the votes of and thus disenfranchise the Black Detroit voters in the 2020 election. The suit states:

To effectuate this strategy, Defendants are openly seeking to disenfranchise Black voters, including voters in Detroit, Michigan. Repeating false claims of voter fraud, which have been thoroughly debunked, Defendants are pressuring state and local officials in Michigan not to count votes from Wayne County, Michigan (where Detroit is the county seat), and thereby disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters. Defendants’ tactics repeat the worst abuses in our nation’s history, as Black Americans were denied a voice in American democracy for most of the first two centuries of the Republic.

On February 16th the NAACP filed an historic federal lawsuit against Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and the neo-Klan groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, accusing them of:

“conspiring to incite a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. The lawsuit alleges that, by preventing Congress from carrying out its official duties, Trump, Giuliani, and the hate groups directly violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act.”

The suit was filed on behalf of Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, who is African American.

Derrick Johnson. President and CEO of the NAACP, made it clear that there is an absolute parallel between the Klan outrages of 1870 and 1871 designed to prevent Black freedmen from voting and the Trumpist insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th:

Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for deliberately inciting and colluding with white supremacists to stage a coup, in his continuing efforts to disenfranchise African-American voters. The insurrection was the culmination of a carefully orchestrated, months-long plan to destroy democracy, to block the results of a fair and democratic election, and to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of African-American voters who cast valid ballots.

Janette McCarthy Wallace, interim general counsel of the N.A.A.C.P., said:

“Underlying this insurrection were the actions of folks who were challenging the voices of people of color. If you look at whose votes were being challenged, these came from largely urban areas. The votes of people of color were being challenged.”

The suit, for instance, charges Mr. Giuliani with attempting to reject “the votes cast by voters in Detroit, the population of which is 78 percent African-American.” It also says Mr. Giuliani inaccurately claimed there was fraud in voting in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., “both of which have large African-American populations.”

A January 16th article by the New York Times stated:

In the lawsuit, Mr. Thompson said he was forced to wear a gas mask and hide on the floor of the House gallery for three hours while hearing “threats of physical violence against any member who attempted to proceed to approve the Electoral College ballot count.” Mr. Thompson also heard a gunshot, according to the suit, which he did not learn until later had killed Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters in the Capitol lobby.

Mr. Thompson is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Washington. The suit does not include a specific financial amount.

I feared for my life. Not a day passes that I don’t think about this incident. I was committed to seeing justice brought to this situation.

On March 5, Representative Swalwell filed a lawsuit against Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani, and Representative Mo Brooks, also citing the 1871 Klan Act. According to an article in the Washington Post:

The lawsuit claims the four violated the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan Act by conspiring to violently interfere in Congress’s constitutional duties and failing to act to stop the mob. It also accuses them of multiple counts of negligence under both federal and D.C. law, aiding and abetting, and infliction of emotional distress. 

Radical Reconstruction and the first defeat of the Klan

The Civil War ended in 1865. After Lincoln was assassinated, former slave owner Andrew Johnson became president.  Emboldened by Johnson, the ex-Confederate leaders did everything they could to keep their brutal grip on formerly enslaved Africans. An article by the Mississippi Historical society describes what happened next:

Instead of embracing change Mississippi passed the first and most extreme Black Codes, laws meant to replicate slavery as much as possible. The codes used “vagrancy” laws to control the traffic of black people and punished them for any breach of Old South etiquette. Blacks could not be idle, disorderly, or use “insulting” gestures. Blacks could not own a gun or preach the Gospel without first receiving a special license. Black children were forced to work as “apprentices” for white planters, usually their former masters, until they turned eighteen. Most blatant of all, the state penal codes simply replaced the word “slave” with “freedman;” all the crimes and penalties for slaves were “in full force” for the emancipated.

On one level, the Black Codes made a political statement. White Mississippians meant to limit the political power of blacks by denying them civil rights. On another, deeper level, these codes revealed an economic struggle between former masters and freed slaves. Ex-masters wanted to force Blacks to work as they had during bondage. Freedmen desired something else. They sought land to rent or own; they wanted self-sufficiency and independence from the old ways of plantation agriculture.

The newly formed Ku Klux Klan, made up of ex-Confederate soldiers and political leaders, attacked political meetings of formerly enslaved Africans, known as freedmen and freedwomen, in Memphis and New Orleans, killing dozens.

A small group of abolitionist Congressmen and Senators, called the “Radical Republicans, who had already forced through the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, seized Reconstruction away from Johnson. They composed and engineered passage of the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship rights to the ex-slaves, and the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed formerly enslaved Africans the right to vote.

In response to this, in 1870 and 1871, the Klan launched a campaign of extreme terror throughout the South. As Eric Foner recounts in his book, “Reconstruction – America’s Unfinished Revolution (1863-1877):

In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired the restoration of white supremacy…It aimed to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping the South during Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican party’s infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the Black workforce, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.

Thousands of “Unionists”, formerly enslaved Africans and white Unionists, were whipped and beaten. Hundreds were murdered, mostly by lynching. Foner details one killing:

Jack Dupree, victim of a particularly brutal murder in Monroe County, Mississippi – assailants cut his throat and disemboweled him, all within sight of his wife, who had just given birth to twins – was “president of a republican club,” and known as a man “who would speak his mind.”

The deadliest Klan attack occurred in the town of Colfax, Louisiana, on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873:

On April 13, Easter Sunday, more than 300 armed white men, including members of white supremacist organizations such as the Knights of White Camellia and the Ku Klux Klan, attacked the Courthouse building.  When the militia maneuvered a cannon to fire on the Courthouse, some of the sixty Black defenders fled while others surrendered.  When the leader of the attackers, James Hadnot, was accidentally shot by one of his own men, the white militia responded by shooting the Black prisoners.  Those who were wounded in the earlier battle, particularly Black militia members, were singled out for execution. The indiscriminate killing spread to African Americans who had not been at the courthouse and continued into the night.

All told, approximately 150 African Americans were killed, including 48 who were murdered after the battle. 

This wave of Klan terror sparked outrage, particularly in Congress and the Grant administration. At Grant’s urging, using Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, Congress passed three “Enforcement Acts”, the third and strongest of which is called the “Ku Klux Klan Act”, which contains several sections.

Section 1 of the KKK Act, renamed Section 1983, allows a person to file a civil suit if they are denied any constitutional right by any state official , including the right to vote. This means that federal officials could override discriminatory state laws and decisions:

Every person who under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, Suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress…

Section 2, renamed Section 1985, prohibits any conspiracy to violently prevent a public official from taking office or to “molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede” the discharge of official duties, among other acts. Those who commit such conspiracies and acts can also be sued by its victims. This is the relevant section for Congressman Thompson’s suit as well as the Michigan lawsuit.

Other sections of the KKK Act enabled the federal government to send federal troops into the South, particularly South Carolina, to suppress the Klan forces terrorizing the freedwomen and freedmen and their families, preventing them from voting. The newly formed Justice Department, led by Amos Ackerman, although an ex-slave owner, arrested thousands of Ku Klux Klansmen in the South, and imprisoned many of the ringleaders for long sentences in the federal penitentiary in Albany, New York.

Although Reconstruction was ended with the racist Compromise of 1877 and the withdrawal of federal troops from the South, as well as the imposition of Jim Crow, the decimated Ku Klux Klan did not reemerge until the beginning of the 20th century.

Lawsuits are justified but not enough.

Unlike the Civil War and Reconstruction period, the U.S. government today is firmly in the grip of finance capital, of huge banks and giant monopoly corporations. But now in the midst of the pandemic’s economic crisis and the rise of the huge Black Lives Matter Movement, as the ex-slaver planter class did then, the bourgeoisie sees the neo-Klan as a powerful auxiliary to their official repressive forces: the police, the prisons, even the military.

And as we saw on January 6th, a section of the ruling class is perfectly willing to use these neo-Klan fascists to overturn the electoral decisions of the masses of workers and oppressed, just as the racist Democrats in the 1860s and 1870s used the Ku Klux Klan as their army to violently deprive the voting rights of freedmen.

Those involved in leading the January 6th insurrection, including its mastermind Donald Trump, as well as those in Congress who voted to overturn the election even after the attack, are set to face little or no consequences from the timid Biden administration.

Although Section 3 of the 14th Amendment gives Biden and the Democrats the clear authority to prevent Trump from ever running for office again, there is no sign that they are willing to invoke it.

Eager to present themselves to their Wall Street masters as the more “stable” alternative to the Trump regime, they have already retreated on major portions of their “rescue” plan for the workers and oppressed, including the promised $15 an hour minimum wage and preventing millions from being able to receive the $1400 “bonus” check, while wasting no time in dropping bombs on Syria and echoing the Trump’s attacks on Iran and China. They cannot be relied on to suppress this new wave of white supremacist violence against the oppressed communities.

The rise of the neo-Klan represents a huge danger to the workers and oppressed. The right-wing politicians are actually using the January 6th insurrection as the basis to attack the loose anti-fascist coalition of groups and individuals sometimes refered to as “Antifa”, as well as the entire Black Lives Matter Movement, with little or no pushback from the Democratic Party leadership.

It must be remembered, especially as union drives are erupting nationwide, most notably at the Amazon facility in Alabama, that corporate owners have used Klan groups like the Black Legion to break strikes and smash unions, including the murder of UAW and AFL-CIO leaders.

Notwithstanding these quite correct lawsuits against Trump and his minions, it is going to take an organized and determined movement of the workers and oppressed to defeat this neo-Klan threat, to stop it in its tracks. And it is going to take the replacement of this decaying capitalist system by socialism to permanently prevent these monstrous neo-Klan forces from ever reemerging again.