Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bourgeois Race Baiting: The so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative

This post is informational and organizational. It aims to gather information and gain knowledge through discussion and to help organize possible effective action. I will periodically edit this with more information, and events as they appear.

In Michigan, the state where I live, a white racist ballot proposal ( I am white and male so you cannot say I'm biased based on my identity) to end affirmative action has made its way to the voting booths for the November election in Michigan. This is very much the same proposal as California's infamous Prop 209 that passed in 1996 that seems to have ended any kind of state practiced affirmative action in California. The result in California was immediate and enormous declines in minority enrolment. Here I mean to sketch out the proper theory and practice for Marxists and for the working class towards this important question. Second, I encourage people to go to events which are scheduled, even if the platform is not revolutionary, with the goal of moving the movement to defend affirmative action in the direction of gaining new and greater gains for the oppressed and workers.

In short, affirmative action is a small gain made by the struggles of the oppressed and working people. The aim of creating real equality can only be achieved through multiracial socialist revolution that eliminates capitalism and allows the development of the world without racism, exploitation, sexism, and war. However the small gains like affirmative action must be defended if any new gains are ever to be won. The timing of this ballot is at a time of hardship for the working class including mass layoffs and high unemployment in Michigan. This proposal is meant to tap into latent and active resentment in white workers against the false perception that minorities get a “free ride.” Nothing could be further from the truth!
The goal should be to Defend Affirmative Action and More! Fight White Race Baiting! Toward Multiracial Socialist Revolution!

In the course of the last few months there have been several anti-racist and anti-MCRI activities that some friends and I have engaged in. One was a debate held at Central Michigan University between supporters of MCRIa: Jennifer Gratz-the white woman who sued the University of Michigan for discrimination based on race- and William Allen an elite sounding African -American professor from Michigan State University who also sits on the US Civil Rights Commission! The Detractors Were Kate Moss, state director of theACLU (not the model) and another lawyer whos name escapes me. We handed out a leaflet and spoke to people about the issue. Mostly young white students said that they did no want the leaflet because they opposed affirmative action. Here is the tex of the leaflet:

Defend Affirmative Action and More!
Stop white race baiting! Free, quality, integrated education for all!

The so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and its rich backers claim to be for total non-discrimination based on race. This claim, they argue, is based on the very American concepts of equality, equal opportunity, and non-discrimination. They claim to be for universal rights in this regard. But are they? If they truly are in favor of equality and non-discrimination, they would support the abolition of preferences for the children of alumni in higher education that has nothing to do with merit and is actually a dirty excuse for white racial preferences and class preferences - preference at universities based on inherited familial privilege-in other words aristocratic privilege. If they truly favor equality and non-discrimination they would be for the abolition of district/locally based funding for public schools which only entrenches backwardness, deprivation, and inequality in the poor and oppressed minorities through ghettoization and ensures preference, enlightenment, exposure, technology, and care for the rich and overwhelmingly white. They should be in favor of a national education system from which all are educated equally or even to give preference to the poor to help them catch-up. So, by selectively targeting the so called “reverse racism” or “discrimination against whites” and not supporting real and full equality, the opponents of affirmative action are in fact helping to reinforce the privileged status of whites over Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and women-all groups suffering higher poverty rates, unemployment, deprivation, and discrimination than whites and males. By helping to reinforce the privileged status of whites they are performing today the historic task of the slave patrol, the overseer, the Ku Klux Klan, Plessey vs. Fergusson, George Wallace and David Duke. This is white supremacy!

The need to keep the most oppressed peoples in positions of inferiority and poverty stems from the needs of capitalism for cheap cohersed labor and a fear of unified working class insurgency. Therefore, differential treatment of various ethnic groups serves to create a hierachy within the working and lower classes where people compete against each other and not against the ruling capitalist class, the real enemy.

Build a revolutionary, internationalist, inter-racial party of the workers in Michigan! The capitalist ruling class has resorted to the crudest forms of racism in order to gain support for their programs of rolling back the gains of the civil rights struggle, the women’s liberation movement, and the labor movement. Reform will only end up impotently supporting the imperialist state and the ruling class! Revolution will bring lasting real change!

Contact an organizer at: Nick
For a revolutionary perspective visit the International Communist League at : *
*ICL is in no way responsible for the content of this leaflet. (End of leaflet)

Since the revolutionary party does not exist in Michigan I encourage entryism with liberal and left groups.

Events in Michigan:
(1)On Monday July 10, the Mt. Pleasant city commission will be voting on a resolution in opposition to the MCRI. Please come out and lend your presence to a strong show of community support for them taking this bold action. The meeting begins at 7pm

(2) On Tuesday July 11, the Isabella Chapter of Michigan United will have its next meeting at 5:30pm. The meeting will once again be at The Crossings on Broadway. Please come and bring a friend. We are definitely making progress in educating people about the MCRI but we must continue to reach out.

Update: The first vote was postponed by the memeber who brought it, a secret socialist he later confided. The second event was small, twenty people or so, with some of the standard talking points about such actions as how to educate such a large public in such a short time with such few resources, whether to associate or not with mainstream parties (I spoke on behalf of the negative answer to that question) and how broad or narrow to be. Several people were sympathetic to my socialist orientation however I must remenber that this is a group backed by the ACLU and mainstream trade union and civil rights groups which means that their politics are tied to the Democratic Party. While I certainly do not object to working with these afore mentioned organizations, especially on this issue and given the political environment in which I find myself, I must be careful to realize that this is mainly reformist pressure politics that is the staple of bourgeois politics. The power of labor and the oppressed must be brought to bear hard on this issue or else this fight may be over.


Renegade Eye said...

I think you are correct. Affirmative action is a gain that needs to be defended. I believe the issue, will be a nucleus for a movement against racism.

I believe you should form a single issue coalition. The coalition can include Democrats. The coalition should give no endorsements, or it'll turn to being a Democratic Party group.

As revolutionaries, we know the gain will be won, with the the lead of Afro-American workers. The movement shouldn't expect liberal Democratic politicians, to win.

Kai! said...

Great article! Affirmative Action is something that I have been looking into and developing my views on. However, most detractors that I've spoken with have brought up one point that keeps me wondering and remains unanswered: as a lower-middle class white male (as I am) what's to stop black or latino business owners from not hiring me based on my race? I'm just curious. Overall though, I do support affirmative action.

Keep up the fight, comrade!

Nicholas said...

Dear Kai,
good question. First, Aff Ac is a group remedy aiming to create more equality in the representation of historically disadvantaged groups. It is not aiming to overcome individually based prejudicies but racial, sexual, ethnic, and other prejudices and historically excluded or underrepresented populations. Second, there are many kinds of AA from attempts at outreach to disadvantaged neighborhoods, to giving points or other kinds of incentives to perspective candidates in the hiring process. Third, white males receive several kinds of preference legally: points for family legacy in schools, points for being in the military and being a Vietnam era veteran, and probably others. Fourth, whites and Asians have the lowest unemployment rates of the several broad categories of racial groups in the US. Fifth, you can argue that since you are a white male and your smart, you probably have had access to a priviledged education, jobs skills, people skills, computer skills, etc, that small business owners would be stupid to pass up. Thus, given your class and racial priviledges many minority small business people may even discriminate against their own race to hire you. I hope this helps. I'off to my meeting. Good luck

Kai! said...

That did help a lot! Thank you very much, comrade. I can't wait to read some more of your work! Be sure to check back on my blog from time to time, whenever I get around to updating.

Nicholas said...

Kai, I have a nice short book called "The Realities of Affirmative Action in Employment" by Barbara Reskin from the American sociological Association. I have only skimmed through but it offers alot of consice information and data, I recommend it.

the flying monkeys said...

Thanks for this