Gabriel Kristal at In These Times writes—A Working-Class Strategy for Defeating White Supremacy:
Ever since the earth-shaking election of Donald Trump, there have been innumerable articles arguing that Democrats brought this upon themselves by losing white, working-class voters in the Midwest. These articles have been met with a torrent of essays urging Democrats to focus on becoming the party of diversity. And, coming back from the dead like a bloated zombie corpse is Mark Penn and Andrew Stein’s New York Times piece calling for a return to Clintonian centrism.
All of these discussions imply that progressives can either fight for voters from the working class or communities of color—but not both at once. This line of thinking demonstrates a profound lack of faith in democracy and the electorate’s ability to smell bullshit.
As a seasoned union organizer, I often ask myself whether the pundits offering the aforementioned opinions have ever actually spent time talking to working-class people. By this, I mean all working-class people. Contrary to the narrative put forth in the mainstream—and even some left—media, some of the most significant work confronting homophobia, sexism and racism has been done by working-class people of all ethnicities through collective struggle in the labor movement.
My first substantive labor movement work was as a union organizer with California’s SEIU Local 250—a healthcare workers’ industrial union, theoretically representing all non-management personnel in hospitals and nursing homes. In practice, the union mostly represented those classifications except registered nurses, who were generally represented by the widely-respected California Nurses Association. Local 250’s membership was racially diverse, with strong representation from African-American, Latino, Filipino and white workers. Standards were generally good for a union workplace: free healthcare, pensions, time off and competitive wages. […]
My job was to explicitly talk about racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, homophobia and religious intolerance as specific barriers to a strong union. A good union member can’t complain about Mexicans ‘taking jobs’ while also asking Latino colleagues to make common cause with him. […]
One story stands out. In preparing for the strike, a number of the African-American kitchen workers kept telling me that the Filipino nursing assistants “were weak” and would not stand up to management. Fortunately, one wonderful African-American female shop steward, Phyllis, pulled them all aside and said that such ethnocentric discussion had no place in our union. When the strike finally happened, not a single Filipino scabbed. In fact, Filipinos were the most dedicated picketers, earning them accolades from everyone in the union.
TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES
“Defeat should not be the source of discouragement, but a stimulus to keep plotting.”
I’ll repeat that the push for the Democrats to back away from protecting POC comes from centrist liberals, not the left. https://t.co/t9PsLYESLX
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) August 11, 2017
At on this date in 2010—Heat Wave:
From the beginning of the environmental movement, the biggest pushback has always been presented in terms of the economy. That’s been true whether it’s cod fishermen taking too big a catch in the Grand Banks, monocrop farmers sucking fossil water out of the Ogallala aquifer faster than it can be replenished, oil companies trashing indigenous land in Ecuador or loggers whacking massive segments of rain forest in the Amazon or Indonesia. When environmental advocates speak up about these matters, the first cry is invariably: what about the jobs? Not that jobs are unimportant. But too rarely is a case made for environmentally sound jobs and practices that can replace the ones causing the demolition of a particular eco-system, large or small.
The truth is that the environment and the economy are not two separate entities. They are inextricably intertwined with each other.
We’re currently witness to another example of how climate change will have that intertwined effect. In Russia. Of course, what’s happening there right now may only be weather, not a climate trend. We won’t know for certain for a while yet. But the omens aren’t good. And it’s not just Moscow smog, a few dead people, ruined crops and some burned barns and homes.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Trump’s emoluments machine kicks into high gear, and he thanks Putin for expelling US diplomats. If nuclear war comes, you’ll hear it first from your favorite Twitter curators. Mental health pros increasingly say Trump’s ill. Alt-right cedes the Statue of Liberty.