Freedom Road asks all freedom fighters and people of good will to stand and act against racism and white supremacy in the United States. Let us turn our grief and anger into understanding, and our understanding into unity of purpose. Let that purpose lead us into a new society.
The socialist movement finds understanding of the Zimmerman verdict not in the law but in history. As W.E. B. DuBois said, “A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”
The arrival of African descendants in the United States was overwhelmingly as enslaved labor–labor, not people. The system of oppression and domination of black skin in the United States is linked not to skin prejudice, but to the fashioning of the earliest, grandest and most rapacious exploitation of labor in history. There is no challenge to the fact that enslaved and tortured black labor, along with the land and resources stolen from the indigenous peoples, produced the wealth of this nation and the prominence of United States capitalism in the world, declining as it may now be.
The justice system in this country was the distinctive product of that economic order and was dominated for centuries by the slave codes, Jim Crow laws, and the system of legal privileges and restrictions on blacks and whites to preserve order. This order, as the recent Supreme Court decision on voting rights affirmed, only wants the fruits of our labor. Our voice, our inclusion, even the right to walk the streets freely: these cannot be allowed. To this day.
The justice system in this country is founded in both the reality that “peers” in the legal meaning of that word was never intended to include Blacks, and that the protection of property was not a right shared by African American people: they were the property.
The landmark overturning of separate but equal as a pillar of US law, a significant achievement of the movement of African American people, has not produced advances in any material sense of that word for the overwhelming majority of oppressed and discriminated peoples. Segregation and inequality persist, and the “free Black man/woman” remains a problem. The justice and prison systems serve to “solve” this problem. The verdict in the Zimmerman case is more than a dangerous precedent; it makes plain the historical line which saw thousands of black men and boys tortured and lynched by citizen “watches” for entertainment and, more importantly, for the reinforcement and maintenance of “white” identity and supremacy.
It is not enough to condemn the decision in the Zimmerman case. It is time for national transformation, a revolutionary social transformation that begins with two things: first, an acknowledgment of the legacy and continuation of white supremacy that plague this country’s institutions and the skin-color privileges which poison its people and its humanity; and second, the laying bare of the core capitalist interests in maintaining a racist system. The plantation class, then and now, maintained order through the maintenance of the “white” identity. The Zimmerman verdict affirms the modern flavor of this order. We will not get a new justice system until the economic order that built and sustains white privilege and white identity is ended.
We stand against this justice system in its entirety for its origins and its outcomes: disproportionate incarceration of African Americans; disproportionate killings of African Americans by police officers; disproportionate arrests, convictions and sentences for identical crimes. We salute the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement for documenting the recent history of extrajudicial killings, and encourage any who may need facts to read and support that work.
This justice system is defined by an unending history of savage and legalized brutality against African descendants, and the descendants of the indigenous peoples. The rising “illegalization” of brown-skinned migrant workers only serves to confirm the persistence and vitality of white supremacy in the law. The growing profits in the prison industry are stark evidence of the return to slave codes, to the value of black and brown bodies in chains as property.
It is not the people who created the system of white supremacy, though many like Zimmerman help sustain it. It is the capitalists, they who birthed it, who live off its blood, who drive this madness.
We socialists stand for a new order, one in which the people fashion a genuine justice that honors the notions of equality and humanity above profit and greed, above fear and hate. We stand with all who are prepared to fight for this new order.
We stand with those ready to bury white supremacy forever.
Boycott the stand your ground states, including Florida. Defeat the stand your ground laws. Support the demand for DOJ prosecution of Zimmerman and an investigation into disproportionate and extrajudicial killings of African Americans. Support the Martin family civil suit against Zimmerman for reparation. Boycott the corporations behind ALEC and “stand your ground” legislation.
Build the fight for prisoners’ rights. Oppose stop and frisk and the legalization of racial profiling. Fight for citizen oversight of police and courts. End the economic exploitation and marginalization of the African American community. Support the demand for reparations and restitution for the descendants of slaves.
Support political and economic self-determination for African American peoples.
Bury white supremacy.
True justice for Trayvon and all African American youth.Download this piece as a PDF