Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Love and the Blues

The insane killings of black church members by a young white man in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday was an act of racist terrorism.  The story was buried in the back of my local newspaper here in Maine today.  When black people get killed by white terrorists it is a low-key story.  When black youth riot as a result of their social conditions and police violence then it makes the front page.

I am astounded that after more than 500 hundred years of harsh and unending racist attacks on black citizens across this nation that the vast majority of black people continue to show a broken-hearted yet loving response to the horrific treatment that white America directs at them.  The example of turning the other cheek by the black community is beyond my own imagination and my own ability. What little we know about love in this country I believe has largely been taught to us by African-American people.

America has no sense of appreciation just how much African-Americans have given to our nation and culture.  Slaves built the wealth of this nation with their labors and blacks have been steadily kicked in the teeth since they were set free after our Civil war.  Black people have had to scratch and claw for what little good they've gained and now they face a largely indifferent white public which has been turned against people of color as competition for work and other scarce social resources is exacerbated by cutbacks and out sourcing of jobs overseas by the corporate oligarchy that runs America.

There are a lot of self-tormented white supremacists across America who blame people of color for their economic and social misfortune.  Whites have been well trained and enabled by the dominant culture to reach out and attack black citizens whenever they felt the need. That is how the institution of slavery was operated - poor whites were often given the job to do the brutal beating of the field slaves.  The races have been pitted against each other from the start and it will take fundamental and extraordinary ‘mind and soul changes’ by the white culture to ever create an American society that is welcoming and loving for all its citizens.  For that to happen white folks must first admit their legacy of white privilege and racism - something I don't see happening anytime soon though I wish I was wrong.

Great American black political activist Cornell West says that white folks need to learn to sing the blues.  The fact is that corporate America is casting most of its citizens onto the dust heap of history - we are nearly all superfluous people as capital moves overseas looking for bigger fish to fry.  Rather than blame people of color for their growing poverty and alienation, white America needs to get a grip and come to realize that we are all in the same sinking boat and it ain't the black community that put the hole in it.

Sadly while we wait for white folks to figure it all out people of color across the nation will continue to suffer - just ask the Native Americans who know this story quite well.

In the meantime my heart goes out to the Emanuel AME Church community in Charleston and to all people of color living in this racist America.  

Our enemies are not black, brown, red or yellow people – they are the rich fat cats sitting in the paneled corporate board rooms on Wall Street and along Capitol Hill in Washington. 


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