Islands of Poverty in a Sea of Prosperity

persistent-poverty-countiesIt’s now commonly accepted that a person’s zip code is the best predictor of how healthy a person is and will be. And what determines your zip code? Income, wealth – and the racialized public policies and practices over generations that have herded people of color into neighborhoods that are underserved by design, and that encouraged white families to move to suburbs with publicly funded amenities and subsidized mortgages.

Zip codes determine how long you can expect to live. Whites in 1950 could expect to live to 69; it wasn’t until 40 years later that blacks attained that life expectancy. It seems to be common sense that teen-age women who get pregnant will have more sickly babies than those who delay child bearing until their more stable 20’s. That is in fact true for white women. But black women in their 20’s have more babies who die in their first month of life than black teen mothers. What’s up? There is a “weathering” effect of living in zip codes where there is no grocery store with fresh food, which are sited close to toxic dumps or incinerators spewing particulate matter, which have few jobs, where houses contain mold and mice, and whose only abundances are liquor stores, fast food joints, and payday loan shops. The effect is cumulative, the harm residing and growing in the bodies of neighborhood residents.

But it is not just poor living conditions that take their toll. Racism itself is a major factor.

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Posted in Intersecting Oppressions, Oppressed Nationalities

A Eduardo con cariño


“To publish Eduardo Galeano is to publish the enemy: the enemy of lies, indifference, above all of forgetfulness. His tenderness is devastating, his truthfulness, furious.” – John Berger

The great writer Eduardo Galeano who died on April 14 at 74 wrote ferociously about the ten thousand injustices that capitalism has visited on the oppressed for centuries. He defended revolutions, defended dignity, he made visible the invisible and he did this through his formidable literature. Galeano supported trade unions, student movements, peasant and indigenous struggles, and he exposed and confronted the impunity of oppressive regimes.

In an interview done in Cuba with the Uruguayan human rights activist Macarena Gelman, Eduardo Galeano said: “I do not believe in the invulnerability of hope. Hope is human. Hope springs from us, and it therefore sometimes falls. Hope soars, hope hurts, it can heal and sometimes it does not.”

Activists and revolutionaries of Latin America (indeed from around the world) have been impacted by Galeano’s writings since the 1970s. Of the 2-3 generations of Freedom Road members, many are intimately familiar with his Open Veins of Latin America. Some consider that book as important to their political growth as Rodolfo Acuña’s seminal work Occupied America: A History of Chicanos.

Eduardo Galeano: ¡Presente!

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Posted in International Solidarity, Presente!

“It Could Have Happened Anywhere”: On the Frontlines in Ferguson with Jamala Rogers


Jamala Rogers

This is the first of three interviews FRSO/OSCL will be posting this month with women who have played an important part in the eruption of struggle initially triggered by the people of Ferguson, Missouri in response to the murder of Michael Brown. These interviews highlight the absolutely crucial contributions of thousands of sisters, from veteran fighters to first-time protestors, in this burgeoning movement. The interviews are being conducted in cooperation with folks from Rødt, the organ of Red, the Norwegian left socialist party.

Jamala Rogers is well known to readers of this site. As a lifelong revolutionary, a leading member of the Organization for Black Struggle and Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and being rooted in the St. Louis community, she has been involved with the movement for justice for Mike Brown since the very first day.

FRSO: What’s going on in Ferguson now?

Jamala Rogers: A number of things are going on, simultaneously. There was a police shooting yesterday. [In February, when this interview was conducted. ] We’re still trying to get the information on that, but apparently this young man had already been shot by police in 2009. The State House is in session and there are hearings. In St. Louis, a Civilian Oversight Board was introduced—this is the second time that we’ve introduced it. Last week, the Public Safety Committee held a public meeting for people to come and testify. The room was filled with police officers. And ultimately there got to be a shouting match with the business manager of the police union, Jeff Roorda, who is an ex-cop and a Missouri State Representative. And all hell broke lose. He ended up grabbing hold of a woman and she’s filing assault charges. So there’s never a dull moment around here. Continue reading

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Posted in Oppressed Nationalities, Police & Prisons

International Lessons of El Caracazo


The media, left, right and center, is awash in opinion pieces and analyses of the recent Greek negotiations with the Euro zone and IMF about paying down the Greek debt. Did the recent temporary accord represent a total defeat of Syriza, who won the recent elections on an anti-austerity platform? Or was it a partial victory which gave the newly formed government breathing space to renegotiate the draconian debt repayment plan? Does it signal a new opening for leftist governments should they come to power in Europe? Or have the German led bankers squashed whatever hope there was?

At the heart of the original Greek bailout agreement is the rate of surplus the Greeks must meet to pay off their IMF/Euro zone lenders. The original bailout agreement required Greeks to run a surplus, of about 2% which they have met. That rate was set to double in the coming period, effectively ramping up austerity measures. This rate, demands for privatization, and new anti-worker legislation were the heart of the matter.

As everyone weighs in—on the left check out Portside, The Bulletin and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal—it useful to remember this isn’t the first time leftist governments have won shocking electoral victories based on debt relief and anti-austerity measures.

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Posted in International Solidarity

Principles and perspectives on the revolutionary process

The following theses are the result of a lengthy process of research and discussion carried out by Freedom Road Socialist Organization. We view it not as the end point of that discussion but rather as a living document, reflecting our thinking at this moment but open to change and deepening. We present it here as a contribution to the movement and to revolutionary thinking, and also as an invitation to all readers to share feedback and join with us in a process of thinking about the strategic challenges for the revolutionary socialist movement in our times. Continue reading

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Posted in Our Strategy, Theory, and Vision, US Left & Left Refoundation

Official Slogans for Comrade Valentine’s Day 2015

valentineslogoMilitant Toilers And Tillers Everywhere:

Unite world-wide under the magnificent blood-red banner of revolutionary sex/love unfurled by Comrade Valentine!

Uphold in word and practice the Comrade Valentine’s Day slogan spontaneously raised by the broad proletarian masses in North America: Dare to Snuggle, Dare to Sin!!

Rely on Comrade Valentine’s vanguard line of Revolutionary Romanticism to challenge and defeat all reactionary and theocratic assaults against women and LGBTQ folk!!!

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Posted in Slogans

Work Twice as Hard to be Equal

Photo source: I was a kid, my Chinese parents used to say to me (as they sat me in front of my homework while my white friends were out playing), “You not White!  You work twice as hard to be equal!”  That just made me roll my eyes at their naïveté.  After all, this was America, the land of equality.

Fast forward to becoming a single mother looking for work. My college degree didn’t help in the small town where I was living, so nearly a year into my search, I decide to apply for a job at Dunkin’ Donuts.  The manager interviewing me said with a gleam in his eye, “You Chinese are good workers, aren’t you?”  And suddenly, the light dawned:  it was me, not my immigrant parents, who was naïve and I would indeed be expected to work twice as hard as the other “girls” for the same pay.  I later discovered that many other children of color had gotten the same message from their parents.

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Posted in Economic Crisis, Intersecting Oppressions, Oppressed Nationalities

The Courthouse Raid at Tierra Amarilla: Remembering Reies Lopez Tijerina

tijerinaWe note with sadness the passing of Reies Lopez Tijerina, one of the great leaders of the Chicano movement. We are republishing the following article—originally published in Forward Motion Magazine #59—which discusses the Alianza Federal de Mercedes that he founded, and their influence on the development of the Chicano movement.

As the sun rose over the Truchas (still snow-capped on this June morning), 20 armed raiders—led, some argue to this day, by a shadowy figure known only as El Tigre—rode into the sleepy northern New Mexican hamlet of Tierra Amarilla and seized the ramshackle county courthouse. When the dust settled after a two-hour gun battle, several police vehicles were destroyed and one deputy lay near death. The band fled into the mountains, taking a reporter and a sheriff’s deputy hostage.

Though this may sound like the opening of a dime novel from the 1850s (or perhaps the romantic reminiscences of a second-rate sportswriter and one-time gun thug named William Barclay Masterson), this particular confrontation took place in 1967.

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Posted in Movement History, Presente!

Three Internationalist Victories: A Bulletin From Latin America

Statue and monument dedicated to Antonio Maceo, in Havana. (Photo by Sento.)

Statue and monument dedicated to Antonio Maceo, in Havana. (Photo by Sento.)

FRSO/OSCL is an internationalist organization. To that end, we will occasionally publish reportage and opinion pieces about developments outside the United States. This piece discusses Latin America, where events serve as inspiration and impact domestic movements in the US. Note that this was written prior to the recent resumption of some diplomatic relations with Cuba by the US.

Latin America, like everywhere else on the globe, is experiencing turmoil and change. But as they used to say in the former Portuguese colonies in Africa during their struggle for independence, “A luta continua.”

We have to appreciate the small victories both close to home and beyond our borders, both recent and passed. As a regular viewer and reader of Telesur, I am reminded of several historic moments of importance in Latin America. Each has far reaching impacts in the region and internationally. All three occurred in early December 2014.

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Posted in International Solidarity

Button Up! I Do, And Maybe You Should Too

Introducing a new feature here at for 2015: Button Up. We were going to call it Button of the Day, but “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

Bowl of buttons

This is the last thing I check on my way out of my apartment. Near the door, it’s where I keep my keys, and as you can see, it has a bunch of pinback buttons in it, currently topical or universally applicable. Thus, I am reminded to grab one and affix it to whatever I happen to be wearing.

I have made a habit of this over the last year or so, because I found my button-wearing went through long erratic cycles, last peaking in the first couple years of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Posted in Button Up!