Someday, this presidential election will be over…okay, not by Wednesday, November 4…but for sure, by January 20, 2021 (please!!!!!). There are still a lot of unknowns out there, e.g. who will be President? If Biden wins, how will Trump respond? Will the Dems win a majority in the Senate?
But there are some knowns out there as well. There is a three-way battle in US politics – with the lines not clearly drawn. You have the right-wing authoritarians/white nationalists; you have the forces led by economic elites with some decency around democracy and race; and you have progressives (defined broadly) who want to push the country left on race and economics. The Bushes and Romneys straddle Groups 1 and 2; a large number of liberals (of all races) straddle Groups 2 and 3.
Also, there is a subtle but very real battle for the political soul of the Black community. Given the nature of white supremacy, there is not a social base in the Black community for a strong set of Black political forces to land in Group 1. However, the real action takes place between Black political forces in Groups 2 and 3 with many individuals and groups straddling the two groups. This struggle has real implications for Black wellbeing because having “some decency around democracy and race” is a necessary but woefully insufficient condition for Black freedom. Structural racism in the 21st century cannot be successfully fought without challenging racial capitalism. Substantive victories in the arenas of policing, housing, jobs, health care, education, and global warming cannot be won without an understanding of the role of our current political economy in creating and perpetuating these social ills. Just as fights against “white-only” water fountains were seen as part of the larger battle of systemic segregation, today’s fights for better jobs, etc. must be seen as a larger fight for a better political economy.
Engaging in immediate fights for racial justice with a view toward the bigger battle is made more difficult by the set of Black electeds (Black liberals) waffle between Groups 2 and 3. Some of these officials have world views that don’t see the need for deeper structural change in our political economy. Others matured politically under the auspices of political and economic elites and because of these deep relationships are tied to accepting inadequate social change. In the era of Trump, it is easy to “look good” by opposing his (and others) attempts to reassert of backward-looking vision of white supremacy. However, locally, some of these same officials support various measures to weaken public education; oppose efforts to rein in the gig economy; and support developers’ views of how cities should grow and be managed.
During World War II, Blacks waged the “Double V” Campaign: fighting fascism overseas and racism at home. Today, we face a similar dual battle: a fighting against all that Trump represents AND a fight against racial capitalism.
Photo credit: CUNY Academic Commons