Black People & Left Politics
Here are the list of Black people, historically, who were or are Red.
There are many more. Check Glenn Ford’s dynamic podcast, for example:
Black Agenda Radio
Welcome to the radio magazine that brings you news, commentary andanalysis from a Black Left perspective. I'm Margaret…
Black people in the 20th century were left. That decision helped shaped the country.
Bayard Rustin, one of the key architects of the civil rights struggles, embraced socialism as did A. Phillip Randolph, the organizer of first March on Washington in 1942 that forced Franklin Roosevelt to integrate the wartime manufacturing industries and employ Black Americans as well.
Randolph also organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters into one of the country’s most powerful unions during the struggle for equal rights in the U.S.
Black people today, prominent, and just ordinary citizens, value progressive, and left ideas, and remain key players. Communism, Marxism, Democratic Socialism, these words do not scare them. These are just ideas, not “the” idea.
Black people are also more and more interested in environmental ideals and Green Party issues because environmental pollution and climate change issues affect them as well.
The one party system in the U.S. — the white supremacist party — generally has provided Black Americans few options other than subservience and/or endorsement of destructive, divisive neoliberal ideals that often times are destructive to their communities. Freedom and equal justice is not part of that package.
Should Black people become socialists or communists? People have to make up their own minds on that one. Black people, however, should and will remain engaged.
Goals remain. Self determination. Total freedom. The ability and the means to make life changing decisions for our children.
Progressive ideals and left ideals are much more likely to support such goals rather than the one party system that continues to dominate our politics without apology.
The one party system is, in fact, mostly opposed to the goals of all or most Black people. The one party system mostly just endorses a world where corporations are people; everything else is interchangeable.
My grandfather was a Communist. My father told me that before he died. My grandfather read the People’s Daily World. That is not family folklore.
I read that fact in some government records my father left behind. The records date back to the 1950’s and the Red Scare period. My father had to answer questions about the documents when he applied for a government job.
The Red Scare period destroyed the left in this country. A real left. Then the rest of the left went to hell globally during the Cold War. Or maybe as Amiri Baraka once told myself and some others maybe the Russians never were really committed to the ideals of a just and free society.
By 1989, the left was dead. The Cold War ended. Russia was an economic wasteland. Neoliberalism had the world to itself. All of the great ideas forged by progressives had been hijacked and watered down.
Social security? Yes, the left came up with that.
Health care for the elderly? Another one by the left. Today, they call it Medicare.
Unemployment insurance? Yes, the left came up with that.
You can add the five day work week to that list as well and unions that used to be a check on corporate power before somehow we became convinced unions are the problem.
But, the rebuilding of progressive ideals in the U.S. is again pushing the policy debate in domestic U.S.A. New parties and organized political collectives are engaged again.
Democratic Socialists are running for office and winning at the state level. Policies that impact the working class are again on the table. Workers are fighting to organize. Gig workers are fighting for their voice at the table.
We have gotten action on the economy and for COVID-19 relief because of pressure from progressives and left politics. Bernie Sanders began to change the conversation in 2015 when he ran for President.
In 2018, when Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was elected to the House of Representatives on a Democratic Socialist platform, the debate shifted even more. Her Green New Deal idea is a threat to the entire system.
The one party system is trying to figure out how to keep their market based approach in place and also satisfy the masses. But this they now know to be true:
The majority of Americans want guaranteed single payer universal health care for all (63 percent according to Pew Research);
The majority believes there is too much economic inequality in the U.S. (60 percent according to Pew Research);
The majority believe wages in the U.S. should be higher (83 percent say $7.25 per hour is not enough to live on);
There is an agenda in the U.S. It is now a left agenda. The so called right agenda is part of the one party system agenda. The liberal agenda, which is some version of the New Deal status quo from the 1930’s, is the one party agenda. To keep harping back to the New Deal and fighting for something that was great in the 1930’s is a political cop-out.
Wages for the masses remain stagnant. Financial bubbles burst and ordinary people lose everything. Banks get bailed out, auto corporations, hybrid financial operations, and the taxpayer is asked to pay for it. Health care is still not guaranteed to all.
This is not the way of a real, functioning society.
Black Americans should welcome this shift to the left. Not because they agree with all of it but because at least the narrative and discourse has shifted again. The young Black people protesting on the streets trying to design a new society are engaged. This is beautiful. It has been decades since we have had a different approach to policy in the U.S.
The last time we had a rich discourse like this with a lot of voices the country made some progress. Who is against that but the very, very rich 1 percent?