by Bill Fletcher Jr.
The campaign of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America has surfaced as a critically important issue that has faced progressives in the USA since the 19th century: can the question of economic injustice stand alone as the platform for a progressive movement? In fact, it is the #BlackLivesMatter movement that has elevated this question to a national discussion point.
On the April 15 national day of action for Fight for $15, members of New York City’s DSA chapter went to the rally and march, then headed down to The Barrow Group Theater in Midtown for a staged reading of Clifford Odets’s Waiting for Lefty and a panel discussion on why unions matter.
The first performance of this 1935 play is a legend in the American theater, a testament to the power of art. Performed for a one-night benefit for New Theatre Magazine, Lefty was loosely based on the New York City taxi driver strike of the previous year. Odets used the story as a springboard to declare open war on capitalism in the midst of one of the most difficult economic periods in U.S. history and to uncover an unspoken rage just below the surface, a sense that the lives of working people were overly determined by their dependence on a system bent on keeping them in their place. It was performed by The Group Theatre—itself a somewhat radical collective of artists who lived together, made work together, and developed what became known as an “American acting technique.” Contemporary accounts describe the play seeming to unleash something dramatic, communal, and undeniable. By the end of the performance, the 1,400 audience members were stomping and raising their fists to “Strike!” with such vigor that the performers worried the balcony would fall down. It would soon become a much-produced and popular play in small theaters and union halls across the country.
|Reid Freeman Jenkins
Book review: The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists
Stephen Eric Bronner, Yale University Press, 2014.
By Michael Hirsch
Late last year in Florida, following a federal court’s overturning the state law banning same-sex marriage, footage aired on MSNBC of protesters demanding that the odious law be restored. One clip showed a dorky Walter Mitty type getting up in the face of a gay Florida couple filing marriage papers. “Two men and two women can’t marry. It’s perversion,” he shouted. “Don’t you understand that it’s perversion?”
Here in New York, more than a few of our neighbors have been willing to blame Eric Garner for his death-by-cops, allegedly deserved because he was selling loosies on a Staten Island street corner and put his hands in the air when cops sought to arrest him. In letters to the editor of the Daily News, usually the less rancid of the city’s two tabloids, there was a clear subtext that New York is full of lesser breeds whose control is the police’s job, no questions asked. Some letter writers weren’t even subtle, saying that “they” can’t control themselves or their kids, and that New York’s Finest needed respect, not second-guessing about officers’ proclivities for murder.
In a companion feature to its obituary, The Washington Post on Monday August 17, shared a story from Pamela Horowtiz, Julian Bond's widow. As she was leaving the intensive care unit where her husband had died, a nurse stopped to offer condolences, the first person to extend sympathy:
“She told me, ‘I want you to know it was a privilege to take care of him,’ ” recalls Horowitz, voice wavering. “She said, ‘As a gay American, I thought he was a hero.’ And for her to say that, for her to be the last person who was with him, I thought it was a nice way to end."
For many of us in the struggles for social justice, Julian Bond was a hero and a role model.
The National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America stands in solidarity with our Honorary Co-Chair Dr. Cornel West, Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou and the other activists arrested in Ferguson, MO on Aug. 10 demanding justice for Michael Brown. We urge that the charges against them be dismissed; that all police who murder African Americans be charged and tried for their crimes; that police throughout the United States protect, not assault, black youth and black communities; and that structural racism be dismantled in all its aspects. DSA continues to participate actively in #BlackLivesMatter and stands in solidarity with all those fighting for social and racial justice in the United States and around the globe.
August 13, 2015
By Lawrence Ware
After being accosted in Seattle by #BlackLivesMatter protesters, Bernie Sanders released a thoughtful, thorough statement about issues facing black people in America. It's exactly what he needed to do.
Good for him. But this isn't directed toward Bernie Sanders. This is to the supporters of Sanders. The 'Sandernistas' as Jeffrey St. Clair calls them.
These are the people that think Sanders can do no wrong. They are uncritical of his electoral strategy. They rebuff #BlackLivesMatter protesters with the 'you need to do your research' retort. These individuals have been known to say things like 'Sanders is your biggest ally in American Politics.'
Seriously, you need to chill. Let me tell you why.
By Cecily McMillan
Last summer, I was inmate 310-14-00431 of the Rose M. Singer Center, the women’s facility on Rikers Island. I was only there 58 days, but it was long enough to experience and witness firsthand almost every form of abuse that has since surfaced in the news — and much more that hasn’t yet.
|Cecily McMillan speaks to reporters on Rikers Island on July 2, 2014.
(Credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)