That kind of stuff, familiar

That kind of stuff, familiar to us all, kept piling up in my mind and got me started trying to figure out how white supremacy had come about in the u.s. working class. So for years after this I read labor history and asked older trade union radicals questions whenever I could.Finally, an anarchist veteran of the autoworkers' historic 1937 Flint Sit-Down strike told me that the strike had been Jim Crow, that one of the unpublicized demands had been to keep Black workers down as only janitors....or out of the plants altogether. This blew my mind. That's when it hit me that the wonderful working class history that the movement had taught us was a lie.

It was hard research work, but no conceptual leap at all to see that in general in u.s. history the colonized peoples have been the proletariat, while the white working class has been a labor aristocracy. This has been camouflaged in capitalist history by retroactively assigning white racial membership to various european immigrant peoples who weren't "white" at the time. For instance, when leading u.s. capitalists started the "Interracial Council" to promote patriotic nationalist integration during World War I, the "races" they wanted to bring together were the Irish race, the Welsh race, the Polish race, the Lithuanian race, the Hungarian race, the Sicilian race, the Rumanian race, and other Europeans that we now think of as only nationalities within the white race. Shows you how race is another capitalist manufactured product.

Racism as we experience it today didn't exist before capitalism, which is why many revolutionaries see rooting out the one as requiring rooting out the other. To Europeans before modern capitalism the most important "races" were what we would call nations. Indeed, until well into the 20th century it was widely assumed by Europeans that even different European nationalities were biologically different, and had different mental abilities and propensities. Slavs were thought to be biologically different from Nordics, and Jews were thought to be an exotic race all by themselves.

There's a certain trend of fashionable white thought that claims that race is nothing more than a trick, an imaginary construct that folks are fooled into believing in. So we even find some middle-class white men claiming that they've "given up being white" (i can hear my grandmother saying, "More white foolishness!" with a dismissing headshake). Needless to say, they haven't given up anything.

Race as a form of class is very tangible, solid, material, as real as a tank division running over you ... tank divisions, after all, are also socially constructed! About another form of this same white racist game -- white New Age women deciding to play at "becoming Indian" -- Women of All Red Nations activist Andy Smith used to wearily suggest that if they really really wanted to "become Indian" they should live on the rez -- the u.s. colony -- without running water or jobs, without heat in the winter or education for their children, with real poverty, alcoholism, and violent oppression.
From an interview with J. Sakai, author of Settlers. Wow.
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