RESOLUTION: Fight Racism & Police Brutality – End the War on Black America
Racism has no place in society, and especially no place within the ranks of labor. American racism became the justification for the brutal, legal system of coerced labor called slavery. Racism is a means by which ruling elites hold onto power through division and delusion.
Racism, with its violence against democracy and decency, continues to be a part of our daily reality. For some extreme racists, the concept of an African-American president is so inconceivable they have concocted the bizarre fantasy that President Obama is “not really an American,” and therefore not “really President.” The attacks are promoted from the top by the Republican Party and their media smear machine, and are allowed to filter down to the grassroots for maximum effect.
The persistence of institutional racism affects all people of color, and is evident in the economic and social disadvantages experienced by African-Americans in particular. African-American unemployment remains disproportionately high. On average, African-Americans are twice as likely to die from disease, accident, and homicide as whites. African-Americans are three times more likely to become prisoners once arrested, and serve longer terms. Racism is evident in the not-too-subtle remarks of media commentators and politicians who blame the victims, not corporate and government policies, for these unnecessary conditions.
Skin color makes some Americans more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be searched, and more likely to be arrested. In North Carolina, the numbers show that a Black or Latina motorist is 77 percent more likely to be searched after a traffic stop than a white driver. “Stand your ground” laws, promoted by the union-busting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), give vigilantes legal cover to target and even kill members of minority groups, as typified by the murder of Trayvon Martin, Jonathan Ferrell (Charlotte), Jose Ocampo, Derek Walker and Jesus Huerta (last three were in Durham). In contrast, Marissa Alexander, a 31-year old Black mother of three, fired a warning shot into a wall to scare her abusive ex-husband. The jury rejected her “standing her ground” defense under the exact same Florida law, and she is now serving twenty years in prison. A similar law exists in N.C.
Racist ideas fuel anti-immigrant hysteria directed primarily against Latinos of various national origins, Arabs, and Muslims in general. All these groups have increasingly been targets of racist hostility. This racism has been used by the U.S. government to promote military intervention in the Middle East and attacks on civil liberties.
The ban on collective bargaining between government and public-sector workers in North Carolina, Virginia and other Southern states is an attempt to prevent the growth of unionism and perpetuate the subordinate status of African-American workers. These laws are predicated on the outrageous belief that men and women who cook and clean, care for the disabled and mentally ill, haul trash, maintain roads and carry out a myriad of other socially necessary tasks are not good enough to sit at the same table and bargain with those who govern.
Progress for working people in building unions at the bargaining table and in legislatures depends upon our ability to achieve and maintain working-class unity. Unity can never be taken for granted; winning ultimately depends upon our success in the fight against racism. We must recognize that our organization and movement are not immune from the influences of a society permeated by racism. We must consciously work to overcome those influences in our diverse working class. The development of national organizations by the victims of racism to empower themselves to resist racist attacks is a necessary part of the struggle against racist and must be supported by the labor movement. End the War on Black America!
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 8th Bi-annual UE local 150 CONVENTION:
- Reaffirms UE’s National policies of aggressive struggle against racism and support of equal rights for all;
- Calls on chapters to defend our members aggressively against on-the-job discrimination;
- Declares its support of workers and their communities’ fight against racist terror and actions in workplaces and communities, including police brutality; and commit to fight against efforts to criminalize the victims of racism and to divide our members and the working class.
- Calls on the leadership of our union at all levels to seek out and encourage the development and election of more people of color leaders and the hiring of people of color staff;
- Opposes the assault on affirmative action;
- Endorses the continuation of workshops on racism and discrimination at all levels of our union and encourages our members to participate in local, national and international networks and coalitions to build anti-racist movements;
- Calls for elimination of racial profiling, “stop and frisk,” and repeal of “stand your ground” laws;
- Calls on chapters to join the struggle in their local cities to increase the power and authority of independent Civilian Police Control Boards and supports the fight to repeal the state law that bans subpeona power for these boards;
- Condemns all attacks on the basis of ethnicity and religion, particularly those on Arab and Muslims that promote a climate of Islamophobia;
- Calls on the union at all levels to make our members and communities aware of the increase of hate groups in our country, to provide information to help them to recognize and combat all forms of hate, and to expose racism in the media;
- Demands strict enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws and just punishment for violation of those laws;
- Condemns as racist the message of media commentators and news media reporting which blames the victims of corporate and governmental policies, and urges the union movement to expose and condemn racially biased and selective reporting.
Submitted by Max Davis, President, Durham City Workers chapter