Challenging racism at its roots
July 19, 2020
This statement appeared as a letter to the Editor in the June 29 edition of the Valley News.
The Valley News recently featured an article describing how the wave of white-supremacist activity sweeping our nation is evident in towns across the Upper Valley. Despite what recent New York Times best-sellers or corporate media might tell you, it isn’t white fragility or even the ascendancy of President Donald Trump that has given rise to anti-Black ideology, and it certainly isn’t soul-searching, hand-wringing, moments of silence, or diversity and inclusion training that will destroy it.
The United States became wealthy and powerful through racial capitalism — extracting wealth from slave labor and lands stolen from Indigenous Americans. The Founding Fathers (yes, Alexander Hamilton included) and each successive administration of our government has worked to safeguard the lucrative institutions and practices of racism, from the Black Codes and the Trail of Tears to government-sponsored redlining. This legacy of racism is evident today in voter disenfranchisement campaigns, detention centers, pipeline violations of Native American sovereignty, the war on drugs, stop-and-frisk, mass incarceration and police brutality.
Our government and corporate institutions were designed to facilitate racist exploitation. They can’t be reformed into what they are not. The police, first created in the U.S. to break strikes and catch slaves, have proved impervious to reform; they must be abolished. The prison system, constructed to assure continued exploitation of Black people after slavery was legally abolished, must likewise disappear.
Remaking our society in such a comprehensive way requires a massive amount of work — work that is being taken up by Black-led movements whose demonstrations in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd have swelled into a massive, sustained social rebellion. All who are oppressed by the current system, including the multi-racial working class and those in poverty, should unite behind their leadership and embrace their demands — starting with the demand to defund, disarm and dismantle the police.