As I watched throngs of fascist-led Trumpians tear into the Capitol on Jan. 6, my first concern was for the safety of the frontline workers of color who maintain the Capitol. It was infuriating, but not surprising, that the media did not seek their thoughts on the assault. I am Mexican American, a retired federal worker. My job was as a custodian for the majority of my more than 30 years in civil service.
Exploited and marginalized, when have we ever not been seen as extraneous by the powers-that-be? Racism, like its twin sibling sexism, governs our daily lives. No amount of reform can purge these malignancies from the system they are rooted in. They are mainstays of capitalism.
The looming threat of fascism is embedded in the inequalities of capitalism and is rising up to squelch dissent and impose a straitjacket on everyone’s civil liberties. Social justice struggles, most recently the Black Lives movement, fight against a racist police state.
We of color know the cops aren’t there to protect us. My fear of the police began before I reached adolescence. As a child of eight, I was viewed with suspicion and presumed guilty of crime where there was none. Over the years, I have been stopped numerous times, had my life threatened, been maced and knocked to the ground while protesting right-wing bigotry. These bad boys and girls in blue exist to preserve, protect and maintain the status quo. They are the servants of the 1% and as such relish using the gun or the club on us.
What can we do to turn the tide of fascism? What power do we have as working people? I believe in fighting for reforms but I have seen them being eroded since the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. The two major political parties derail us, lull us into believing in the capitalist economic system that oppresses us and turns us away from revolution.
I believe the humane world we all yearn for is attainable if we see through the myths we have been fed. Schools taught me to believe in the virtues of living in the “land of the free.” Racism inculcated me with feelings of innate inferiority. Living with racism taught me to fight back. Activism and my socialist feminist studies have allowed me to see through the web of misbeliefs and false morality that permeate and uphold every aspect of our institutions and sustain the rule of the elite.
The attempted ultraright-led coup on the Capitol, the erection of a gallows outside of Congress, the waving of the Confederate flag, shirts emblazoned with Camp Auschwitz and shouts of “Sieg Heil” shook belief in the system and highlight the dire need to fight back, to marshal our forces.
The workers’ movement is the ultimate target in the fascist crosshairs. Unionized and unorganized workers need to come together with all the communities under threat — Blacks, Asians, Latinx, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, women, LGBTQI+ people, immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, and leftists.
History shows Black women are essential leaders. They have always challenged the system and fought the divide-and-conquer tactic of sexism intended to weaken the Black struggle for liberation. We need to reject ideologies of separatism and of belief in the status quo.
Today, civil unrest is heightened by the system’s glaring inequalities and failures, from the collapse of the privately owned power grid in Texas, to delays in Covid vaccinations, to unfettered police violence, homelessness, and a failing for-profit healthcare system.
The people’s confidence has been shaken and a mass movement of people of color and whites cries out to coalesce. Once in motion, differences previously seen as insurmountable will fall to the wayside.
A multiracial movement can break the capitalist chokehold on our lives and usher in real humanity. It is unquestionable that the Black struggle coupled with a social movement aimed for socialist feminist revolution is the antidote and the road to freedom.
The author is a member of the National Comrades of Color Caucus, a joint body of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women. Send comments to him at FSnews@socialism.com.