by Jalil Muntaqim
By 2023, the U.S. will be 40 percent “minority,” and 50 percent of the entire population will be under 40 years old. These are the demographics that cannot be ignored as progressives move forward building opposition to institutional racism and plutocratic governing.
In my thinking, it is incumbent on today’s Black activist academic community to take into account what America will look like in 10 years to better position Black people in opposition to the deniers of change. In this regard, I am raising dialogue toward the building of a national Coalition for a Changed America (NCCA), comprising Black historians, social and political scientists, demographers, economists and statisticians along with political activists who are prepared to build a future focused America.
It is in preparation for the inevitable that we will better control and forge our common destiny with the necessary ideological, socio-economic and political determination to preserve our existence in a changed America.
It is extremely important progressives seek the means to organize greater unity and uniformity in ideological and political objectives that build and sustain a mass and popular determination that is currently evolving with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) “anti-racism social consciousness movement.” Similar to the moral civil rights consciousness movement, the BLM “anti-racism social consciousness movement” has challenged the symbols and social character of America’s racial divide.
It has placed front and center the inequities of racial division in America’s social order, demanding the demilitarization and defunding of the police and a more equitable diversified inclusion in the capitalist-imperialist system, among other perfunctory systemic demands. In its platform it has called for the ending of mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty, to support climate change initiatives, and to stop the gentrification of communities of color and housing displacement, demanding debt relief for students and challenging dysfunctional and racist school systems and curriculums.
In each of these and other demands are racial and economic implications that may ultimately create social conflicts and confrontations, since change will not come easily in a socio-economic and political order that for centuries has existed under the delusionary cloud of white supremacy.
However, the most pervasive and devastating cause for all these issues is the racialized unequal distribution of wealth in this country. It is well researched and recorded the wealth disparity and income gap between whites and Blacks is 40 percent greater today than in 1967, with the average Black household net worth of $6,314 compared to the average white household net worth of $119,500, according to the New York Times seven-part series by Nicholas Kristof, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” published 2014-2016, now compiled by ImpactAmerica.
When such economic disparity is accounted toward the lack of educational opportunities and criminal behavior in the Black community, we are better able to identify the pernicious problem. The Brookings Institute reported three years ago: “As poverty increases and spreads during the 2000s, the number of distressed neighborhoods in the United States – defined as census tracts with poverty rates of 40 percent or more – climbed nearly three quarters.”
The report continued: “The populations living in such neighborhoods grew by similar margins (76 percent, or 5 million people) to reach 11.2 million by 2008-2012” (NY Times “Crime and Punishment” by Charles M. Blow).
Today, with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rate disparity of Black deaths compared to white deaths, lends to a greater understanding how unequal distribution of wealth presents a genocidal dynamic to poor and oppressed peoples, especially Black people.
With the country in increasing economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to take into account reports on the rise of wealth: “According to a recent paper by the economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, almost all of the increases in American inequality over the last 30 years is attributable to the ‘rise of the share of wealth owned by the 0.1 percent richest families.’” (NY Times “Another Widening Gap: The Haves vs. The Have Mores” by Robert Frank). And much of that rise is driven by the top 0.01 percent.
It further states: “The wealth of the top 1 percent grew an average of 3.9 percent a year from 1986 to 2012, though the top one-hundredth of that 1 percent saw its wealth grow about twice as fast. Sixteen thousand families in the tiptop category – those with fortunes of at least $111 million – have seen their share of national wealth nearly double since 2002, to 11.2 percent.”
Hence, the majority of the American populace as wage earners hustle and scrap for the crumbs off the plutocracy table, demanding increase in minimum wage, when they should be demanding control of the means of production.
When consideration is given to the fact just one individual, the head of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, can make $13 billion in a day, this obscene wealth hoarding must have a devastating impact on America’s social order. This is especially disconcerting when 16,000 families out of approximately 350 million Americans control 99 percent of the country’s wealth – which demands structural and institutional change.
Can there be any serious opposition to this reality when the American populace is under the delusion of being governed in a democracy inasmuch as they are permitted to vote for a millionaire to govern them, when in truth the corporate government is a plutocracy? The American populace has no understanding that the U.S. corporate government is in fact a corporation established by law in 28 U.S.C.A. §3002(15)(a) which states: “(15) “United States” means – (A) a Federal corporation.”
Hence, the majority of the American populace as wage earners hustle and scrap for the crumbs off the plutocracy table, demanding increase in minimum wage, when they should be demanding control of the means of production. It is this inequitable distribution of wealth, and the amalgamation of disparity as the middle and lower classes becomes less distinct, that requires the progressive academic community to persistently address this issue to raise consciousness and to direct attention to the real culprit of peoples’ suffering.
Most recently Congress held hearings on the monopolies of Amazon, Facebook and Apple, discussing whether they were “too big.”
The U.S. capitalist socio-economic order demands the capacity to exploit and profit from people’s labor. Thusly, American workers consciously or unconsciously are complicit in their exploitation, abiding the social rules of wage earners, which limits participatory democracy to oppose their oppression.
Labor unions and other representatives of worker’s rights are themselves, for the most part, instruments of the capitalist system. They have not demanded workers’ ownership of the means of production on behalf of the wage earners they represent.
Rather, they ensure the viability of the corporation by preserving the interest of the wage earner-worker in cooperation with the corporate interest of profitability. They do not prohibit the exploitation of the worker but make it more palatable for the worker to be exploited in a less egregious manner and for the corporation to continue to reap exorbitant profits from workers’ labor.
The union’s hard-fought concessions from a reluctant corporate entity generally amount to pennies (or a percentage of a penny) to a dollar of the corporation’s largesse. How can this be explained and presented to the American wage earners in order to persuade them to oppose American capitalism as it currently exists?
While it is heartening to see young people, especially Black Lives Matter (BLM) advocates, protest in the streets challenging the impunity of police repression and racist violence, demanding the tearing down of symbols of white supremacy, it should be noted these demands are readily adopted by the system of oppression to preserve its existence and capacity to exploit the American worker. These demands are not a threat to the system of capitalism, although they expose the socio-cultural institutions of racism, and how racism is utilized to forge divisions among white workers and workers of color.
I believe we can define the BLM as an “anti-racism social consciousness movement” and not an anti-capitalist workers’ movement. I am not confident these struggles by young people will result in substantial institutional changes or concrete changes in the corporate culture and reality of capitalist profiteering.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) created similar national attention, but devoid of a national organization, leadership and agenda, their demands for change were ignored, held in abeyance or whittled down to cosmetic acts of appeasement until the struggle was annihilated as a public nuisance and disappeared. The removing of Confederate statues and allowing the Black Lives Matter’s name to be painted in the streets has little bearing on how the corporate government operates.
It in essence appeases the protesters and presents a false sense of achievement. While challenging the socio-cultural dynamics of white supremacy may have liberatory psycho-social value, it does not change the conditions of worker exploitation and capitalist profiteering, especially concerning Black workers who are generally super-exploited and vulnerable as the pandemic has exposed and made explicitly obvious.
So, I pose this question to the Black academic-intelligentsia: How do you perceive your continued contribution to an anti-capitalist imperialist movement being developed in this historic time of turmoil in the United States? How will the progressive community of Black erudite activists support this generation of Black protesters and dissenters and challenge their engagement in this protracted (r)evolution for a changed America?
Again, in three years, this country’s minority community will be 40 percent of the population, 50 percent of which will be under 40 years old. It is incumbent on Black academic-intelligentsia to consider the idea of the development of the National Coalition for a Changed America (NCCA), specifically functioning as a think-tank and policy development apparatus offering position papers that are future focused and that provide strategic guidance in the development of the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement.
Jalil A. Muntaqim
In Black August 2020 and beyond, send our brother some love and light: Jalil Muntaqim (A. Bottom), 77A4283, Sullivan CF, P.O. Box 116, Fallsburg, NY 12733.