Thursday, March 22, 2012

Justice for Trayvon Martin!

Yesterday as I was leaving to go to Union Square for the demonstration, I ended my blog post about the book Chavs with a call for working-class unity spurred by the Trayvon Martin case. Now, having spent several hours last night at the demonstration and marching through the streets of Manhattan with thousands of people, mostly young Black women and men, I can report that this case is not going away. 
The fact that thousands of people came out here, thousands of miles away and almost a month after the racist killing of this African American teenager, to demand justice, proves that. 
Trayvon Martin's parents came to the rally and spoke to those assembled. They clearly were moved, and strengtehened, by the support, and vowed to press on.
The rage of the Black community at the never-ending open season on young Black men, by police as well as by individual racists as in this case, was much in evidence last night. "I am Trayvon Martin" was chanted over and over for hours, alternating with "No justice, no peace!"

Trayvon Martin was carrying a can of iced tea and a bag of candy, Skittles, when he was gunned down, so many in the crowd too carried these items, hoisting them as they chanted. And of course everyone was wearing hoodies, as the action had been called as the "Million Hoodie March," a reference to the killer's claim that the teenager somehow looked threatening, criminal, because he had pulled on his hood to protect himself from the rain that terrible night.

I haven't posted about political events or demonstrations on this blog in quite a while, but then I haven't been to an action that was so energized and powerful in a long time either, so, despite the not-great quality of my cell phone pix, I did want to get a few of them up here. Justice for Trayvon Martin!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The demonization of the working class

I just started reading Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones. The book is about Britain, but as I expected, from the opening pages it is so so applicable to the United States. Take this from the introduction:
Politicians, particularly in the Labour Party [for this country substitute Democratic Party], once spoke of improving the conditions of working-class people. But today's consensus is all about escaping the working class. The speeches of politicians are peppered with promises to enlarge the middle class. "Aspiration" has been redefined to mean individual self-enrichment: to scramble up the social ladder and become middle class. Social problems like poverty and unemployment were once understood as injustices that sprang from flaws within capitalism which, at the very least, had to be addressed. Yet today they have become understood as the consequences of personal behavior, individual defects and even choice.

The plight of some working-class people is commonly portrayed as a "poverty of ambition" on their part. It is their individual characteristics, rather than a deeply unequal society rigged in favor of the privileged, that is held responsible. In its extreme form, this has even led to a new Social Darwinism. According to the evolutionary psychiatrist Bruce Charlton, 'Poor people have a lower average IQ than wealthier people ... and this means that a much smaller percentage of working-class people than professional-class people will be able to reach the normal entrance requirements of the most selective universities."

... [A] government dominated by millionaires [is pushing] an aggressive program of cuts, unparalleled since the early 1920s. The global economic crisis that began in 2007 may have been triggered by the greed and incompetence of a wealthy banking elite [well, yeah, they accelerated it but it's really a structural crisis of capitalism but anyway the point here is a good one, that], yet it was working-class people who were--and are--expected to pay the price.
This evening here in New York we will be marching alongside Trayvon Martin's parents to protest the horrendous racist murder of their son in Florida last month, and the cops' and courts' efforts to sweep it under the rug. Working-class unity is needed now more than ever.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

NYC loves Librotraficante

Just shy of a month since my last blog post, I'm popping in to point you here. My comrade Greg at Fuck Yeah Marxism-Leninism reports on a great little action that took place this past Saturday in front of the central branch of the New York Public Library. It was a demonstration in support of the Librotraficante movement to bring back into Arizona the Latino books that have been banned in schools there.
Photo by Redguard
Another comrade of mine, Gloria Rubac of Houston, has been taking part in the Librotraficante caravan over these last few days and I've asked her to write a guest column for this blog about it as soon as she can. So I look forward to posting that.

As for any revived regular blogging routine of my own, I make no promises though I'd love to swing back into the groove. We'll see.