Lynne Stewart: Some Thoughts for May 1, 2012

May Day, a celebration of the Worker and May Day, a commemoration of the Immigrant migration has now become a single holiday—and how appropriate that is !! The massive immigrant influx of the late 19 century was primarily  a new supply of workers for the unending appetite of capitalism. Cheap Labor.  Europe had become a dead end — wars, a class and land system that allowed no upward mobility and less and less opportunity for their children to learn or be somebody.  My own Swedish great grandparents came over as indentured workers–having to pay for their passage by the sweat of their (yes, women too) brows doing farm labor for two years.  This is a story that had been repeated through all the waves of immigrants–Italian, Greek, Slavic, Eastern European, Asian (Chinese, Filipino), Caribbean and now Latin American and African.  What has shifted is the structure that now has the United States as the Great Imperialist, first ravaging their homes militarily and economically and then casting large numbers of newly created displaced people adrift on the economic seas.  As one Jamaican friend and immigrant once said to me “Why shouldn’t we come here?  You have everything stolen from us !!”

Before I go further, I have a word for two special groups of workers and their paths and current status in America.  Blacks were kidnapped and brought here 400 years ago because it was “difficult “to enslave native Americans on their own lands.  Africans were readily identifiable-and thus if you were  Black you were a Slave.  That has not changed much in 400 years.  Just Ask Travon Martin and the other “targets”. Through all the years and all the continued resistance and struggle, that simple fact has always been determinative.  Today, it is also being used as a wedge to separate natural allies into enemies.  In the days preceding the Civil War,  Workers and Abolitionists fought side by side to achieve equality for both.  And that of course continues to be the goal–to demonstrate convincingly that all the media and all the tricks cannot divide the 99%.  Black people can rightfully claim their fair share of all the wealth, they slaved for no pay, but that does not mean that others are not entitled as well.  Mexicans, whose land was stolen from them, the other special group that must be mentioned, have this year almost stopped coming to the US.  Does that mean more jobs for those already here?—NO NO NO that is a cruel and cheap hoax.  Mexican immigrants do not take jobs that Blacks and other Americans want. Like all newcomers they do the grunt and dirty work — no-one in New York City could have a meal in a restaurant if it were not for the immigrants–mostly Latino, who provide the infrastructure. This is not a competition for jobs except so far as those who control the dollars make it so.

Two warnings to all from my own experience.  First, as immigrants anxious to be part of the American dream DO NOT join the part of it that says I can get past on skin color and I can advance myself by being racist and exploiting “those” people just as every preceding immigrant group has done.  My other alert is to People of Color—Do not blame the immigrants for your plight in white America, they came to work and made themselves indispensable. It is the same old white power structure that exploits both labor and race and racial differences for their own advancement that is responsible. Don’t adopt convenient scapegoats when the battle is there to be fought with the courage to do so against the true enemy.

The only PROGRESS to be sought on May DAY 2012 by all of us is a unity of purpose, by truly believing that an injury to one is an injury to all and acting in self defense against the powerful, unscrupulous forces who seek to destroy our movement.  This year we are once again confronted with a Presidential Election that for many is choosing the “lesser of two evils”.  Let me remind you that as James Baldwin, the Black author, once said–evil is always evil and the politicians including Mr. Obama have demonstrated their total untrustworthiness over and over and over.  Promises ?– a hollow joke; and Programs?– on paper or words of the air — never put into practice.  This is not to be Tolerated!!!
May Day is for the beginning of new offensives and we certainly have a vast choice — there is so much wrong, so much that needs fixing.  We must band together until they are more afraid of OUR power than their greedy fear of losing their vast fortunes.  This we Must do — our children and grandchildren assure us there is no choice, if there is to be a world for them to live and work and raise the next generations in.

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