The Donald Trump inauguration is the unapologetic installation of white supremacy in the White House. This ascendancy of Jim Crow racism is coupled with brazen declarations of the rights of big business and the banks to intensify their exploitation of all American workers under a false promise of “more jobs.” We must look at this development within the context of the Black Liberation Movement’s struggle for freedom and self-determination.
Black people must speak for ourselves. Our “sentence of slavery” in America and the wealth built on our backs give us that right and demand we truthfully examine our relationship to a country that continues that enslavement in different forms. We must acknowledge that the Obama presidency gave us a false “hope” and distracted us from the unstoppable downward spiral of the American political economy, the real engine that drives United States domestic and foreign policy.
A crisis that is not particular to the Black community has brought us a Donald Trump. It results from a particular period in American capitalism, which can no longer create or hide behind the illusion that white privilege is synonymous with white economic growth and progress. The crisis is systemic and demands that “scapegoats,” i.e, Black people, immigrants, Muslims, etc. be created to explain away a situation that all Trump’s best domestic efforts cannot change. On the political front, we can see this crisis in the growing instability of the American “two-party” political structure. Internationally it will mean the intensification of aggression, war and re-colonization.
For historical perspective we must look at some of the previous political platforms that emerged to protect the wealthy when their economy was in crisis. Before World War II Fascist dictatorships emerged in Europe. In Germany, Adolf Hitler came to power through an electoral process that saw his party garner the most widespread political support in the German parliament —a rise to power that initially cloaked itself under the banner of the “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” Once in office, Hitler systemically deconstructed democratic forms that no longer served the German ruling class.
Therefore, we must not “sleep” the Trump presidency, as if something took place that has any legitimacy for Black people or the working class. History has taught us that rich people will use whatever means necessary to guarantee their wealth and power. Those means can change at a moment’s notice, without any warning to the people who will be its victims.
The Choice Campaign
For more than a year and half the Choice Campaign, under the leadership of the December 12th Movement, advocated that the 2016 election did not offer us any real choice and that we needed to put our issues on the ballot rather than waste a vote on someone who had no intention of representing the Black community.
Reparations is that key issue for Black people. Reparations speaks to the Black existence in the United States from slavery until today. We are owed reparations for the labor stolen from our ancestors, the wealth it created for white folks and the underdevelopment it has forced on our communities since the end of the Civil War.
We called for Black people to write in “Reparations Now” in the presidential column. In the 2016 election more than 60,000 people cast a ballot for Reparations Now. This assertion of Black folks’ self-determination, of independence, was a tremendous victory. The right to reparations is an integral part of our campaign for Black people to call for a plebiscite/ referendum for separation from the United States moves forward.
The right of Black people to call for a plebiscite on separation is a political question. Our separation is not a call to divide people fighting this oppressive system, but our human right to the political associations of our choice.
As the 2016 election ended with the stunning upset of Hillary Clinton, the Choice Campaign had already foreseen the limits of voting for what someone else chooses for us. We must declare our own freedom, while uniting with all progressive forces fighting the rise of the “right” in America.
The Black Liberation Movement is not the Civil Rights Movement. The BLM unites with all people fighting against exploitation, all forms of racism and discrimination. However, the BLM is a movement for the total liberation of Black people from national oppression and economic exploitation. We understand the conflicts between capital and labor and the necessity of socialist ideas and structure to build a better world.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I fear I am integrating my people into a burning house.” We must heed his warning and beyond Jan. 20, 2017, intensify the fight for the plebiscite/ referendum for separation.