What Black Lives Matter means for Labor

Billeaux, Michael
Date Written:  2015-08-31
Publisher:  SocialistWorker.org
Year Published:  2015
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX17833

An account and analysis of the centrality of the Black freedom struggle to the working class movement as a whole, arguing that the struggle for Black liberation is a precondition for human liberation generallyand recognizing the deep historical thread connecting the centuries-old struggle for Black freedom in the U.S. and the struggle to organize the working class to fight for workers' power.



Another comrade in his talk this morning discussed the limits of allyship and the basis for solidarity. I think part of the issue here is that most understandings of allyship tend to draw, often with good reason, a pretty firm line between people who are supported and people who are doing the supporting. People not directly affected are called upon to be supporters. This is typically on strictly moral terms: "This is really bad, you should be really upset about this, if you're a moral and ethical person you should get involved on that basis."

I think there's a different logic of solidarity summed up in the phrase "an injury to one is an injury to all." Strictly speaking, it's not a moralistic logic. Rather, it's a logic that demands that labor must be made to see the stakes it holds in the Black freedom struggle, and the stakes are everything. That is the reason that Black liberation can't wait, that is the reason that there must be independent Black leadership, that is the reason that our organizing spaces have to be non-oppressive spaces.

I think all the reasons for those things, which are all the right impulses, are that everyone has a stake in the struggle, everyone has a stake in the independent vitality and validity of the Black freedom struggle; and the Black freedom struggle, independently and as such, furthers the aims of the labor movement, in the broadest sense.

To sum up, we get involved in the movement not just because oppression is bad, and you should be upset about it, but because the Black freedom struggle can have a massive positive political and social impact--and, most importantly, because the independent Black freedom struggle can exercise an enormous influence on the revolutionary development of the working class as a fighting force against capitalism.

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