Socialist Night School: Workers against White Supremacy

June 23, 2020

The uprising against racism and police violence that erupted in the aftermath of the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor has been bolstered by important contributions by workers and their unions.

Bus drivers and other public transit workers have refused to move arrested protesters and police. Teachers and other public education workers have agitated to kick the police out of our schools. And longshore workers stopped work on East and West Coast ports to demonstrate opposition to racist police violence.

What role can workplace actions and organized labor play in the anti-racist struggle? What can socialists and other radicals do to contribute to further workplace action and organization in support of the ongoing movement? How can union members organize to isolate the police unions and drive them out of local and national union federations? What does the history of racism and anti-racism in the U.S. labor movement tell us about our struggle today?

Join East Bay DSA's Socialist Night School on Tuesday, June 23 at 7pm on Zoom as we discuss these questions and more, with a talk from featured speaker Ashley Payne.

Priority Readings

"Moment of Reckoning": Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Cornel West & Bakari Sellers on Nationwide Uprising (video, ~38 min) Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Cornel West are two of the leading voices of the socialist movement in the U.S. today. In this clip from June 1, they discuss the ongoing nationwide uprising against police violence and frame it as a concentrated expression of resistance to racism, social domination, and extreme inequality.

To Break the Power of Police, We Need to Mobilize the Power of Labor” by Paul Heideman (article, ~1300 words) Paul Heideman argues in this article that the participation of labor unions is crucial to the success of struggles against racism and police violence.

Additional Recommended Readings

"It's Time to Make Black Lives Matter in Our Unions" by Bianca Cunningham (article, ~1200 words) Organizer Biana Cunningham reflects on her experience in unions and the history of the labor movement and argues that unions must prioritize racial justice. 

The Most Effective Way to Stop Police Terror is Action at the Point of Production,” interview with Clarence Thomas (article, ~1500 words) Former Secretary Treasurer of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, Clarence Thomas, discusses recent political strike action against racist police violence conducted by longshore workers at West and East Coast ports.

What about Racism?” by Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor (article, ~1900 words) Taylor refers to the writings of Karl Marx and the history of the U.S. socialist movement to argue that the struggle against racism is central to defeating capitalism.

The Legacy of Black Reconstruction” by Robert Greene II (article, ~1700 words) Robert Greene II reflects on the major themes of W.E.B. Du Bois' classic book, Black Reconstruction in America. Du Bois argued that the Civil War was won due to a "general strike" of enslaved Africans, making him the first to place the self-activity of Black workers at the center of U.S. history.


When: June 23, 2020, 7:00pm - 9:00pm
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