Monday, September 1, 2014

The Color Line and Labor: Some Thoughts on Labor Day 2014 From W.E.B. DuBois 1925

I hope that you are having a restful Labor Day as you eat your lips, anuses, and other innards filled stomach linings, meat patties made from feeding the bodies of the dead to the living, and drinking ethanol based cool and refreshing beverages. 

Labor Day was founded in order to honor the working people of the world. As happens with most remembrances and days of honor, Labor Day has been stripped of contemplation and meditation as it was baptized and transformed into an American public holiday.

W.E.B. DuBois, titan of American letters, history, and philosophy wrote extensively about labor and the color line. DuBois was writing about the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the first two decades of the 21st century, Americans have been witness to an increase in racial animus, the public union of white supremacy and the Republican Party, state sponsored violence against people of color, the politics of white rage in Ferguson and elsewhere, the subversion of democracy by the Supreme Court and decisions such as Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, herrenvolk politics, Republican efforts to reinstate Jim and Jane Crow, summary executions and neo-lynchings by white vigilantes acting under wicked "stand your ground laws", the continued assault on the poor and working classes, and the triumph of neoliberalism and the corporate state.

Almost one hundred years ago, W.E.B. DuBois made the following observations in The Negro Mind Reaches Out about the relationship between labor and race. His insights were prescient; in many ways, they accurately describe America in the Age of Obama.

The emphases are mine:
The attitude of the white laborer toward colored folk is largely a matter of long continued propaganda and gossip. The white laborers can read and write, but beyond this their education and experience are limited and they live in a world of color prejudice. The curious, most childish propaganda dominates us, by which good, earnest, and even intelligent men have come by millions to believe almost religiously that white folk are a peculiar and chosen people whose one great accomplishment is civilization and that civilization must be protected from the rest of the world by cheating, stealing, lying, and murder.
The propaganda, the terrible, ceaseless propaganda that buttresses this belief day by day—the propaganda of poet and novelist, the uncanny welter of romance, the half knowledge of scientists, the pseudo-science of statesmen-all these, united in the myth of mass inferiority of most men, have built a wall which many centuries will not break down. Born into such a spiritual world, the average white worker is absolutely at the mercy of its beliefs and prejudices
Color hate easily assumes the form of a religion and the laborer becomes the blind executive of the decrees of the masters of the white world; he votes armies and navies for "punitive" expeditions; he sends his sons as soldiers and sailors; he composes the Negro-hating mob, demands Japanese exclusion and lynches untried prisoners. What hope is there that such a mass of dimly thinking and misled men will ever demand universal democracy for all men?


Mary Kay said...

The opening paragraph was hard to "digest", however the remaining article was thought provoking and unfortunately, very true. I have read many of your twitter posts. As usual your writing is right on target! In addition you are a very talented writer. I hope that my retweets are read and cause others to see the world more clearly.

chauncey devega said...

How kind. Thank for sharing my missives on Twitter. Did you have like yummies to eat today or otherwise process w. the acid in your food body's food sack?

mls oregonhills said...

Americans - spreading Democracy everywhere except at home.
I love DuBois, second only to Baldwin.

I recently watched the documentary 'Spies of Mississippi' by Dawn Porter, have you seen it?

Will be making biscuits & sausage gravy, bacon, and eggs for dinner. No veggies today, just breakfast foods.

Whatever happened with Zora, anyway?

kokanee said...

Hmmm, might it be this Mary Kay?

chauncey devega said...

I just saw that documentary on Netflix, gonna watch it tomorrow/today. Zora has moved on to other endeavors.

joe manning said...

Our training in subservience makes us appreciate the "equity" of subjection and inequality with little regard for the drastic politics of officialdom. In plain English we're content to be piss ants. However, as looming crises unfold the powers will loose all credibility. Lets hope humanity will be able to rally around a humane organizing principle as opposed to dividing into waring factions.

chauncey devega said...

I hope it is. She does great work.

kebrina said...

I thought the introductory paragraph was eloquent and impactful.