Race and Class in America

As National Football League season opens

Nike unveils ad featuring blacklisted quarterback Colin Kaepernick

By Alan Gilman, 10 September 2018

The National Football League season has opened against the backdrop of Colin Kaepernick becoming the face of Nike’s new “Just Do It” campaign and a ruling allowing his collusion lawsuit against the NFL to go forward.

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman: The illogic of racialism

By David Walsh, 16 August 2018

Lee’s new film takes as its point of departure the infiltration in the late 1970s of the racist Ku Klux Klan by a black police officer, Ron Stallworth, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

After 63 years, US reopens Emmett Till murder case

By Trévon Austin, 16 July 2018

The Department of Justice has reopened its investigation into the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American from Chicago who was murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi.

The second season of Netflix’s Dear White People: More of the same selfish, racial politics

By Nick Barrickman, 4 July 2018

The second season picks up where the first season left off: focused on the petty and self-centered exploits of a group of African American students at a fictional upscale university.

Donald Glover’s hit music video “This is America”

By Zac Corrigan, 1 June 2018

Within 24 hours, “This is America” had been viewed 12.9 million times and the song debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart. It has now been viewed more than 200 million times.

The cancellation of Roseanne Barr’s television series

By David Walsh, 31 May 2018

On Tuesday, ABC television cancelled the revived Roseanne after its star Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar wins the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music

By Hiram Lee, 28 May 2018

Pulitzer’s choice to recognize the rapper cannot be viewed as anything but a nod to identity politics and the Democratic Party.

Black Lives Matter, ACLU stay lawsuits, promote Chicago police “reform”

By Jessica Goldstein and George Marlowe, 25 April 2018

The involvement of BLM in the CPD consent decree is intended to provide further cover for police and the political establishment while giving middle class activists a “piece of the action.”

The legacy of the Gershwins and Porgy and Bess

An interview with Marc George Gershwin and Michael Strunsky, nephews of George and Ira Gershwin

By Barry Grey, 23 April 2018

“What stands out is the genius of the music.”

The New York Times on race and class

What determines social mobility in America?

Part two

By Eric London, 6 April 2018

The New York Times cites a new working paper published by the non-profit Equality of Opportunity as proof that race, not class determines social status. But what does the data really show?

The New York Times on race and class: What determines social mobility in America?

Part one

By Eric London, 5 April 2018

The Times cites a new working paper published by the non-profit Equality of Opportunity as proof that race determines social status, not class. But what does the data really show?

Fifty years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

By Fred Mazelis, 4 April 2018

The life of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his premature death, raise questions that have lost none of their urgency in the past five decades.

Howard University students occupy campus building in Washington, D.C.

By Nick Barrickman, 2 April 2018

Students have been occupying the university administration building since it was revealed that campus employees had inappropriately received college grants and waivers.

Washington Post fulminates against Black Panther’s white supremacist supporters

By Nick Barrickman, 23 March 2018

Far from rejecting Black Panther’s “pro-black” message, white racists have endorsed its depiction of a feudal African monarchy whose rulers have sealed the borders.

At the University of Michigan

Racialist attacks mar landmark performance of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

By Barry Grey, 7 March 2018

Given the generally deplorable state of culture and intellectual life in contemporary America, it was perhaps inevitable that this remarkable event would be tarnished by the purveyors of racialist conceptions of art.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow blames Russia for the fall in black voter turnout

By Fred Mazelis, 21 February 2018

Blow brands the decision not to choose between two candidates of the ruling class as an illegitimate display of “apathy.”

Minnesota school district removes To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from the curriculum

By Sandy English, 14 February 2018

The Duluth school board has decided to stop teaching two literary classics, To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn, because of their frequent use of racial slurs.

Martin Luther King Day marked with an open racist in the White House

By Fred Mazelis, 16 January 2018

The advent of Trump exposes the reality beneath the hypocritical official tributes to the slain civil rights leader.

Trump retweets fascist anti-Muslim videos from Britain

By Fred Mazelis, 30 November 2017

The White House is doubling down in its appeals to its fanatical ultra-right base and laying the groundwork for a mass fascist movement.

African American man attacked by white supremacists in Charlottesville charged with felony

By Shelley Connor, 12 October 2017

A magistrate issued an arrest warrant on Monday charging DeAndre Harris with unlawfully wounding one of his attackers during the “Unite the Right” rally in August.

Race, class and the protests against police violence in St. Louis, Missouri

By Genevieve Leigh, 3 October 2017

As part of its efforts to inject racialist politics into the protests against the police officer who killed Anthony Lamar Smith, groups around the Democratic Party held a “white allies only” rally.

Pseudo-left groups push identity politics on seventh day of St. Louis protests

By Genevieve Leigh and George Gallanis reporting from St. Louis, 22 September 2017

A “White Allies Only” protest endorsed by the DSA, Socialist Alternative and Black Lives Matter drew several hundred people on the seventh day of protests against police violence in St. Louis.

New York Times surveys the results of 35 years of affirmative action

By Fred Mazelis, 13 September 2017

The Times article reveals that masses of Hispanic and African-American youth are unable to afford higher education, but obscures the underlying class reality.

The New York Times and “white nationalism”

By Barry Grey, 17 August 2017

The politics of race, whether in the form of anti-black racism or black nationalism, has long been used as an ideological weapon of the capitalist class to divide the working class and impede the struggle for socialism.

The political and social roots of fascist violence in the US

By Joseph Kishore, 15 August 2017

The fascist violence in Charlottesville is not an aberration. It is, rather, the manifestation of a profound crisis of American capitalist society.

Locking Up Our Own, by James Forman, Jr.

New book describes the role of black mayors and police officials in mass incarceration

By Fred Mazelis, 5 July 2017

Forman’s account provides further evidence that the massive growth of the US prison population is rooted primarily in class oppression, not in racial divisions.

An assault on free speech

Trinity College suspends professor over Facebook posts

By Josh Varlin, 1 July 2017

Professor Johnny Eric Williams’ suspension after a right-wing media campaign is a grave attack on academic freedom and democratic rights.

Evergreen College professor harassed, slandered as racist for opposing “exclusion day” on campus

By Genevieve Leigh, 5 June 2017

After speaking out against a campus event in which all white students and faculty were “invited” to leave campus, Bret Weinstein was denounced by a group of students who have called for his resignation.

The case of punk duo PWR BTTM: The erosion of democratic rights in pop culture

By Norisa Diaz, 5 June 2017

The New York-based band has been banished from the music industry following social media allegations of sexual assault, undermining the long-standing legal principle that the accused is presumed “innocent until proven guilty.”

Two men stabbed to death in Portland, Oregon anti-Muslim incident

By Toby Reese, 29 May 2017

Two men in Portland, Oregon were killed by Jeremy Joseph Christian as they attempted to stop him from yelling ethnic, racial, and religious-based obscenities at passengers on a commuter train.

Fifty years after racist anti-miscegenation laws struck down

American public overwhelmingly accepting of interracial marriage

By Niles Niemuth, 26 May 2017

Contrary to the racialist narrative depicting a country hopelessly riven by racial division, the number of interracial marriages and popular approval are at an all-time high in the United States.

The political issues behind the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans

By Tom Hall, 20 May 2017

The decision by Mayor Mitch Landrieu to remove the statues is a tactical move aimed at bolstering the tattered reputation of the Democratic Party.

Lecture at San Diego State University

Should art be judged on the basis of race and gender?

By David Walsh, 27 April 2017

This is an edited version of a talk given at San Diego State University on April 18 by WSWS arts editor David Walsh. Audio of the talk is included.

Black Lives Matter cashes in on black capitalism

By Lawrence Porter and Nancy Hanover, 4 April 2017

The class character of Black Lives Matter has become exceedingly clear as it openly embraces “Backing Black Business,” a new “black debit card” and other opportunities under the Trump administration.

Once again on Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till: The New York Times intervenes to preserve identity politics

By David Walsh, 31 March 2017

The media establishment clearly senses that in the case of the Schutz painting in the Whitney Biennial, the identity politics zealots may have overstepped the bounds.

US Republican congressman defends racist diatribe against immigrants

By Patrick Martin, 15 March 2017

Representative Steve King of Iowa endorsed ultra-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders on the eve of elections in the Netherlands.

Trump’s anti-immigrant orders and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

By Tom Mackaman, 14 March 2017

There are many parallels—and even a direct connection—between the notorious Fugitive Slave Act and Trump’s executive orders attacking immigrants.

As officials end subsidies and resume water cutoffs

Michigan blames Flint water crisis on racism: Part two

By James Brewer, 4 March 2017

A 138-page report on the Flint water crisis delivered on February 7 covers up the class issues in the poisoning of the city.

As officials end subsidies and resume water cutoffs

Michigan blames Flint water crisis on racism: Part one

By James Brewer, 3 March 2017

A 138-page report on the Flint water crisis delivered on February 7 covers up the class issues in the poisoning of the city.

A contribution on art and identity politics

It isn’t a highway and it doesn’t have lanes

By Steven Brust, 3 March 2017

The comment by fantasy and science fiction writer Steven Brust is a response to the effort to restrict art and literature according to the dictates of racial and gender politics.

Mounting anti-Semitic attacks in US draw half-hearted response from Trump

By Niles Niemuth, 22 February 2017

Since January, there have been 68 bomb threats at 53 community centers in 26 states and one in Canada, and some 200 headstones toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri.

Columnist Myles E. Johnson on Beyoncé at the Grammys

The New York Times opens its pages to frenzied racialism

By David Walsh, 16 February 2017

The February 14 op-ed piece in the Times by Myles E. Johnson (“What Beyoncé Won Was Bigger Than a Grammy”) is an especially repugnant example of racialism.

Recording artists voice opposition to the White House at 2017 Grammy Awards

By Nick Barrickman, 15 February 2017

Numerous Grammy Award-winning music artists took to the stage on Sunday’s awards ceremony to criticize the new US administration.

I Am Not Your Negro: Raoul Peck’s documentary on James Baldwin

By Clare Hurley, 14 February 2017

The film takes as its point of departure Baldwin’s proposal to his editor in 1979 to write a piece about civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Roy Innis, black nationalist turned right-wing Republican, dead at 82

By Fred Mazelis, 20 January 2017

The trajectory of Innis provided a stark exposure of the reactionary politics of black nationalism.

New York Times film critics watch “while white”

Against racialism in film and art

By David Walsh, 19 January 2017

It would be very nearly possible at present to post a daily column devoted to the fixation of the American media and Hollywood filmmaking with race.

From Selma to the CIA

John Lewis, Donald Trump and the demise of the “civil rights” establishment

By Patrick Martin, 16 January 2017

The former civil rights leader and longtime Democratic congressman has now joined the campaign to prepare US public opinion for war with Russia.

After election debacle, Democrats debate identity politics

By Niles Niemuth, 15 December 2016

The publication of an op-ed by Columbia University professor Mark Lilla questioning the efficacy of identity politics continues to draw a heated response from figures in and around the Democratic Party.

From a reader: A second comment on Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight

By Thomas Douglass, 12 December 2016

The authentic and genuinely interesting character of the protagonists is one of Moonlight’s greatest appeals.

Black Lives Matter blames “white supremacy” for election of Trump

By Evan Blake and Barry Grey, 30 November 2016

The organization ignores factual analyses of the actual vote to present a false interpretation of the election as the expression of a society dominated by racism.

The myth of the reactionary white working class

By Eric London, 12 November 2016

The claim that the election of Trump was due to the racism of the “white working class” is a false narrative exploded by the most basic analysis of the data.

The New York Times’ Amanda Taub and “the crisis of whiteness”

By David Walsh, 3 November 2016

Taub’s November 1 article pins the blame for the unprecedented character of the 2016 US presidential election on “white” defensiveness and resistance to change.

Following meeting, leading Black Lives Matter activist endorses Clinton

By Gabriel Black, 25 October 2016

The meeting and subsequent endorsement express the deepening political collaboration between the Democratic Party establishment and the official Black Lives Matter movement.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: The dystopian vision of racial politics

By Tom Eley and David Walsh, 15 October 2016

With the publication last year of African-American journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, the political and media establishment quickly declared the author to be one of the country’s leading commentators on race.

Billionaires back Black Lives Matter

By Gabriel Black, 11 October 2016

The $100 million allocated by the Ford Foundation is an acknowledgment by a powerful section of the ruling class that the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement are aligned with its interests.

Detroit professor advances “structural racism” theory of Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 1 September 2016

A report submitted as evidence that the Flint water crisis was the result of racism is aimed at concealing the class issues and diverting popular outrage into establishment channels.

The socioeconomic basis of identity politics: Inequality and the rise of an African American elite

By David Walsh, 30 August 2016

A sharp polarization has emerged among African Americans over the past four decades. The privileged layer that has been produced forms an important basis for racialist politics.

Illinois community college drops racially segregated courses after public criticism

By Matthew Brennan, 13 August 2016

The decision by Moraine Valley Community College to drop segregated college-readiness courses, after an initial defense by school officials, came amid criticism from students and parents.

New York Times sees only “whiteness” at Republican convention

By David Walsh, 22 July 2016

The newspaper currently treats individuals, events, movements, books, films and everything else that comes within its journalistic grasp almost exclusively through the prism of race.

The promotion of racial politics and the US elections

By Barry Grey, 18 July 2016

The central issue in the struggle against police violence and all attacks on democratic rights is the unification of the working class in a common struggle against capitalism.

Musician-singer M.I.A dropped from Afropunk festival for criticizing Black Lives Matter

By David Walsh and Zac Corrigan, 18 July 2016

M.I.A. has every right to criticize Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, who travel in privileged circles around the Obamas and other leading Democratic Party figures.

The New York Times, Michael Eric Dyson and the politics of race

By Barry Grey, 14 July 2016

The Times is on guard and ready to denounce anything—a political development, a book, even a movie—that challenges its racialist agenda. This agenda has become more and more central as the class struggle has grown more intense.

Obama in Dallas: Platitudes and lies on police killings

By Bill Van Auken, 13 July 2016

To deliver an honest speech, Obama would have had to admit that the epidemic of police killings as well as the shootings in Dallas are either the direct product of or blowback from his administration’s policies.

“The records were full of evidence of dissent and insurrections by common people”

An interview with Victoria Bynum, historian and author of The Free State of Jones—Part 1

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 12 July 2016

We are posting a conversation with Victoria Bynum, whose research helped inspire the film Free State of Jones, about an insurrection by Southern Unionists against the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Race, class and police murder in America

By The World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board, 11 July 2016

The campaign to portray the United States as riven by racial hatred serves definite and reactionary social and political aims.

“I am against something wrong, regardless of what the color of someone’s skin is”

Protesters speak out on police killings

By Nick Barrickman and Matthew Taylor, 11 July 2016

Protesters in Washington DC and Jacksonville, Florida, among the thousands who demonstrated against police killings this weekend, spoke with the World Socialist Web Site.

The police killings in Louisiana and Minnesota: The class issues

By Andre Damon, 8 July 2016

Millions of people around the world have reacted with shock, outrage and revulsion at the latest videos and images of police murder in the United States.

Law-and-order campaign follows sentencing in Stanford sexual assault case

By Eric London, 30 June 2016

The California state legislature is poised to enact new mandatory sentencing laws that will greatly expand the prison population and the police powers of the state.

Charles Blow of the New York Times

The right-wing, racialist attacks on the film Free State of Jones

By David Walsh, 30 June 2016

Free State of Jones, about a white farmer in Mississippi who led an insurrection against the Confederacy from 1863 to 1865, has come under sharp attack from the “new right” of identity politics advocates.

Divided Supreme Court rejects challenge to affirmative action

By Tom Carter, 27 June 2016

The protracted and embittered litigation over affirmative action highlights the policy’s central importance to the political, corporate and military establishment.

Political prisoner Gary Tyler freed from Angola prison after 41 years

By Helen Hayes, 2 May 2016

Gary Tyler’s frame-up and decades-long incarceration expose the brutal class character of the American judicial system and its vast prison complex.

The political agenda behind the racial politics of the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof

By Niles Williamson, 5 April 2016

Amid mounting signs that interest in socialism is on the rise, Kristof is doing his best to promote racialist politics to divide the working class and block the development of class consciousness.

The New York Times on race and art

By Hiram Lee, 4 April 2016

A review published in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review advances a racialist view of art and culture with thoroughly reactionary implications.

“This is not a race issue—we need everyone to support this”

Detroit Public School students take a stand with teachers, spreading protests

By Nancy Hanover, 1 February 2016

High school students throughout Detroit speak up, walk out and protest to make their stand with teachers.

The class character of the student protests on US campuses

By David Walsh, 17 November 2015

The student protests initiated over the past two weeks have a decidedly upper middle class character, aimed not at fighting for social equality but at carving out greater privileges for relatively privileged African American and other minority professionals.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution: No lessons learned

By Clare Hurley and Fred Mazelis, 9 October 2015

Riveting video footage along with complacent commentary adds up to a misleading account.

Grace Lee Boggs dies at 100 years old

By Shannon Jones, 9 October 2015

Boggs passed briefly through the Trotskyist movement in the early 1950s before becoming a supporter of black nationalism, feminism and the Democratic Party.

Hillary Clinton and Black Lives Matter: A revealing confrontation

By Patrick Martin, 22 August 2015

The much-publicized encounter sheds light on the essentially right-wing character of both the Democratic frontrunner and the proponents of identity politics.

Democratic Party moves to drop “Jefferson-Jackson” name from fundraisers

By Tom Mackaman, 13 August 2015

The move to disassociate the Democratic Party from the two figures it has long claimed as its founders, allegedly because they were slave-owners, marks a new milestone in the party’s embrace of identity politics.

How the New York Times distorted its own poll on race relations

By Barry Grey, 28 July 2015

A careful reading of the actual poll indicates that racial animosities are continuing to fade and basic class issues are coming to the fore.

Why the politicians have united to take down the Confederate flag

By Barry Grey, 30 June 2015

The rush to take down symbols of racism that the American political establishment has kept in place for decades is a defensive response to an outpouring of public horror over the Charleston killings and popular hostility to racism.

Race and class in America: The case of Rachel Dolezal

By Niles Williamson and Barry Grey, 24 June 2015

The revelation that the head of a local NAACP chapter, since forced to resign, is a white woman has driven the purveyors of identity politics into a furor.

The social roots of racism in America

By Andre Damon, 23 June 2015

The political establishment has seized upon the tragedy in Charleston to promote the conception that race is the fundamental category in American society.

Fraternity banned, students expelled from University of Oklahoma after racist video appears online

By Nick Barrickman, 11 March 2015

Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which has historical ties to the antebellum South, has been involved in a rash of incidents of a reactionary character.

Selma and the legacy of the US civil rights movement

By Fred Mazelis and Joseph Kishore, 9 March 2015

Obama’s commemoration of “Bloody Sunday” was a political farce aimed at sanctifying a corrupt apparatus with the blood of those who made great sacrifices as part of the civil rights movement.

Race, class and police violence in America

By Joseph Kishore, 9 December 2014

In response to popular anger over police violence in the US, the Obama administration has strengthened the apparatus of repression while deploying the practitioners of identity politics to obscure the basic class issues at stake.

Man charged in killing of 19-year old Detroit resident Renisha McBride

By Lawrence Porter, 26 November 2013

The killing of McBride, who was shot on the doorsteps of a suburban home, is being seized on by sections of the political establishment to promote racial politics.

Alabama posthumously pardons Scottsboro Boys

By Matthew MacEgan, 25 November 2013

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole decided unanimously to posthumously pardon three of the “Scottsboro Boys,” who were wrongfully accused of two rapes during the early 1930s.

At University of Michigan symposium Angela Davis offers political cover for Obama

By Helen Halyard and Shannon Jones, 31 January 2013

In recent years, Davis has been brought forward as part of an effort to give an oppositional gloss to the Democratic Party.

The Sherrod affair and American social reality

By David Walsh, 27 July 2010

The Shirley Sherrod affair, the case of the black US Department of Agriculture official fired July 20 because of an allegedly racist remark, is profoundly discrediting to every wing of the American establishment.

Arizona immigration bill: A frontal assault on democratic rights

By Patrick Martin, 26 April 2010

The new anti-immigrant law passed in Arizona last week and signed by Governor Jan Brewer is a blatantly racist and anti-democratic measure authorizing police-state methods against the Hispanic population of the state.

Trial begins in killing of Ecuadorean immigrant in New York suburb

By Peter Daniels, 24 March 2010

A trial began last week in a tense courtroom in the town of Riverhead, Long Island, in connection with the killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant 16 months ago.

Obama administration reaches $3.4 billion settlement with Native American landowners

By Hiram Lee, 14 December 2009

The US government will settle a class action lawsuit brought against it by the American Indian owners of land trusts who say the government has deprived them of billions of dollars in royalty payments.

The black “insiders” and the Obama administration

By Lawrence Porter, 17 November 2008

The Obama presidential campaign carefully cultivated the illusion that an African American president would prove sympathetic to the plight of average working people. However, the social layers that Obama represents have different class interests; far from being sympathetic to the conditions of the working class or the poor, they have used their connections to take advantage of the very people they claim to defend.

US Supreme Court clears way for execution of likely innocent death row inmate

By Kate Randall, 16 October 2008

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear the appeal of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis. The case against Davis, convicted in the 1989 killing of an off-duty Savannah police office, has gained worldwide attention, with demands by human rights activists and high-profile figures for his life to be spared.

Affirmative action and the right to education: a socialist response

By Joseph Kay and Patrick Martin, 3 May 2001

Conflicting rulings by two federal district court judges on lawsuits against the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan may well provide the vehicle for a major ruling by the US Supreme Court on the subject, for the first time in 23 years.

The University of Michigan Law School case and affirmative action: the politics of race

By Joseph Kay, 3 May 2001

During the University of Michigan (U-M) Law School case and afterward, U-M and various radical groups on campus have taken up the defense of affirmative action, advancing a political perspective that in no way addresses the basic crisis of education in the United States. What is their program? That the University should remain off limits to the majority of working class and most middle class youth, but that it should be made “diverse” through the selective admission of a small percentage of minority students, who are given preference over qualified white students.

Ebonics and the danger of racial politics

A socialist viewpoint

By Helen Halyard, 21 April 1997

The main issue in the dispute over Ebonics is not language, but perspective. Those who base themselves on the permanence of capitalism are seizing upon racial differences in order to make them a barrier to unifying working people in the struggle to change society. They promote the conception that the great division in American society is between black, white and Hispanic or American born and foreign born.

Who is promoting Ebonics and why?

13 January 1997

Until very recently, the term Ebonics (literally, black sounds) was unknown to all but a handful of academics and black cultural nationalists. Within the last month, however, the public has been bombarded with news reports, talk shows and opinion columns all dealing with the issue.