Exploring the RCP's Draft Programme

Segregation USA and the Revolutionary Solution

Revolutionary Worker #1108, June 24, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org

The RCP has published its new Draft Programme, and the Party is inviting people to join in the study, discussion and wrangling over this roadmap and battle plan for revolution.

In this new RW series, "Exploring the RCP's Draft Programme," we will look at different key problems in society, and what the Draft Programme says about how people can solve them through revolutionary change.

"The history of the development of capitalism in the U.S. is a history of the most savage oppression of the Black, Native American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, Asian, and other oppressed peoples. Today this oppression continues and, in many ways, has intensified. For these reasons, the proletarian revolution in the U.S. must urgently take up this question for solution."

Draft Programme of the RCP,USA, page 91

Official America claims that racist oppression is a thing of the past. Legal reforms supposedly "leveled the playing field." And so (the argument goes) there is no need to "urgently take up this question for solution." This is, in essence, a defense of the status quo and an upholding of the intense oppression that continues.

In fact, "this oppression continues and, in many ways, has intensified." And one way this can be seen is by looking at segregation in housing.

TODAY'S SEGREGATION

Here are the conclusions from university studies on the 2000 census:

Housing in the U.S. remains intensely segregated. It has increased in many urban areas.

Segregation among children has increased across the U.S.

Millions of Black people live in inner-city neighborhoods, where there are few white people and the conditions are often intolerable.

Researchers study the different nationalities in a larger metropolitan area (which includes both city and suburb)--and determine how many of each there are. They then look at the various neighborhoods (by dividing up the area into "census tracts" of about 4,000 to 6,000 people) and study how the various nationalities are distributed within those census tracts.

They then calculate a "segregation index" (also called "dissimilarity index") that ranges from 0 to 100. It gives the percentage of one group who would have to move to achieve an even residential pattern. An index of 0 would mean that the nationalities inside the tract have exactly the same proportions as nationalities in the larger metropolitan area. Anything over 40 is considered segregated. Anything over 60 is highly segregated.

The U.S. in the 2000 census had a segregation index of 65.1, which the Brookings Institute calls "hyper-segregated."

The New York Times (April 4) summed up that "people still live in largely segregated neighborhoods."

The top ten segregated metropolitan areas were New York, Newark, Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties, Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Miami.

The Chicago Sun-Times (March 18, 2001) reported "Chicago remains one of the nation's most racially, segregated cities. Despite fair housing laws and civil rights marches, African Americans live in their neighborhoods and whites in theirs. More than four out of 10 Chicagoans live on blocks that are more than 90 percent of one race. A decade ago, it was five out of 10. Still, nearly 1.3 million people--most black-- live in one-race areas of the city."

This countrywide segregation often takes the form of the division between suburbs and inner cities. More than 70 percent of whites now live in the suburbs, compared with 40 percent of Black people.

Here are several trends within that larger picture:

First, segregation increased in at least a third of the U.S. metropolitan areas during the 1990s--especially in the Midwest and Northeast. In fast-growing urban areas of the South and West, the rapid movement of people produced more communities that were mixed.

Second, there has been an increase in the diversity of the overall U.S. population--largely because of immigration.

Third, there has been a slight decline in national segregation--from 69.4 in 1990 to 65.1 in 2000. This is mainly caused by Asian and Latino immigrants moving into both largely white and largely Black areas, and by a small number of Black people moving into white areas. Many new immigrants have joined sections of Black people at the bottom of U.S. society, and have made communities that were once heavily Black into more diverse, multinational communities of proletarian people.

Segregating Kids

"Though, over all, blacks and whites live in slightly more integrated areas now than they did in 1990, the segregation of their children worsened in the decade according to the analysis by researchers at the State University of New York at Albany."

New York Times, May 6, 2001

The national segregation index for children was 68.3 in 2000--a significant rise above 65.5 in 1990. And, as with all these trends, it is markedly worse in a number of key cities. The New York Times reports, "In a swath of northern cities from Milwaukee to Detroit to New York, segregation levels of black and white children grew sharply in the last decade, largely as a result of white flight."

In Milwaukee, for example, Black youth now make up 61 percent of the city's 60,000 public school pupils, up from 46 percent of the city's 41,000 schoolchildren in 1990. One 1999 report summed up that in the 19 largest school districts in the country, 15 are more than 75% people of color (Black, Latino, Asian). 13 are over 80 percent people of color.

This housing segregation means that Black and white kids are often separated during their school years. And this has an intense effect on the education and opportunities for Black children.

Tokenizing White Areas

U.S. cities 40 years ago presented a grim picture of racist segregation. In 1960, 61.8 percent of census tracts in metropolitan areas were less than 1 percent Black. A remarkable 17.2 percent of neighborhoods had literally zero Black people--because of racist legal "covenants" and intense violence.

Most "white areas" now have some Black people and other people of color in them. This accounts for almost all of the slight national "decrease in segregation" noted in the 2000 statistics. Roughly 45 percent of census tracts have populations that are between one and ten percent Black. In mainly white communities there has been an increase in the number of non-white people (5 percent), but only 1 percent in the number of Black people.

There is almost no sign of white people moving into formerly Black areas. And this breakdown in "whites only" barriers has only affected the lives of a small percentage of Black people. In 1960, 6 percent of Black people lived in mainly white communities: now the number is still only 13.5 percent--after 40 long years of supposed desegregation.

In fact, the 2000 census reveals that 23 percent of neighborhoods in U.S. metropolitan areas are still essentially "whites only"--with under 1 percent Black people.

Continued Ghettoization

"The decline in segregation results from the integration of formerly all-white census tracts, rather than from the integration of overwhelmingly (80 percent or more) black census tracts.... The decline in segregation does not in any sense represent an elimination of very high percentage African-American census tracts. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of census tracts with a black share of population exceeding 80 percent remained constant nationwide."

"Racial Segregation in the
2000 Census: Promising News
"

"The average white person continues to live in a neighborhood that looks very different from those neighborhoods where the average black, Hispanic and Asian live."

John R. Logan, sociologist,
State University of New York

The New York Times (April 4) summed up that a "typical black city resident" now lives in a neighborhood that is "75.5 percent minority, in which three out of five residents are black."

Lots of Black people prefer living in mainly Black communities--for different reasons, including long-standing ties, property ownership and the general cultural atmosphere. But it remains true that, in this society, the segregation of Black people is often enforced. People who live in Black communities are often very aware of the harassment and attack their families might face if they move into all-white areas.

There are certainly stable, prosperous communities that are all Black. But it remains true that the segregation of housing in this society is linked to all the many other ways in which Black people are denied equality and opportunity. Areas with heavily Black population are routinely cut off from quality health care, decent schools, home repair loans, public transportation, highway access, social services, park maintenance, street repair, etc.

Life for kids is harder, and not just because there are fewer programs and after-school activities. The cops rage through Black communities treating the kids in general as a "public enemy" just for the way they look.


WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

The statistics show that more than 40 years after the rise of the civil rights movement and decades after laws banning discrimination in housing--segregation remains, deep and oppressive, in the U.S., and especially in large urban areas where so many of the oppressed nationalities are concentrated.

The Draft Programme of the RCP has a provocative headline on page 91: "Why Imperialism Cannot Do Away with National Oppression."

That section says:

"The conditions faced today by the oppressed peoples in the U.S. are truly barbaric. They meet with discrimination at every turn, solely due to the color of their skin or the language that they speak. As members of the proletariat (and in their majority the oppressed nationalities are proletarians), they get either the lowest-paid, most dangerous, and most back-breaking jobs, or else no jobs at all. They get the worst housing, the worst of bad health care, and the worst education and other social services.... In recent years, the imperialists have literally filled the prisons to bursting with youth of the oppressed nationalities.... At the same time, the imperialists have flooded the neighborhoods and schools of the oppressed nationalities with brutalizing, murdering racist thugs in blue uniforms.... The capitalists today have thousands of laws on paper outlawing discrimination, but still discrimination thrives and intensifies. This is because they have a greater law in command--"the law of maximizing profit"--and under this law all of society is kept in a twisted state. Such deformities fully conform to their interests.

"The oppression of Black and other oppressed peoples in this country is not only a matter of racism but, even more fundamentally, of the oppression of nations and national groups. This oppression is essential to the functioning of the capitalist system in the U.S. It is built into the foundation and whole framework of capitalist society in the U.S. and the whole structure of U.S. imperialist rule and domination in the world.

"National oppression is profitable for the imperialists. The people of the oppressed nationalities are in their majority members of the U.S. proletariat, and are super-exploited due to the national oppression they suffer--that is, the capitalists use the systematic segregation, lack of opportunity, and discrimination against these workers to pay them extra-low wages and thereby get extra-high profits. The capitalists also use the existence of this superexploited section of workers to drive down the conditions of the working masses overall."

*****

This section reaches a profound conclusion with far-reaching consequences:

"For all these reasons and more, the imperialists could not do away with national oppression and white supremacy, even if they wanted to. As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, has written, 'socially as well as politically, any attempt to really sever this national oppression from the fabric of U.S. society and reshape the society without this oppression would completely 'unravel' and tear apart the whole social fabric as it now exists, as it has been historically developed under capitalist rule. Obviously, while we, representing the revolutionary proletariat, welcome this, the imperialist ruling class absolutely does not and cannot.'"

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

If this capitalist-imperialist system cannot end national oppression, then how will we end it? The Draft Programme argues that the path to ending this intolerable oppression is proletarian revolution.

In Part 1 of the Draft Programme, on page 19, the RCP says:

"...the proletarian revolution in the U.S. must move urgently to eliminate the terrible conditions facing these masses and do away with national inequality and racism. All this, of course, cannot be done overnight. But much of it can and will be."

What follows there is a sweeping vision of how national oppression will be overthrown.

And this is then supplemented by an appendix in Section 2, starting on page 91, on "Uprooting National Oppression and White Supremacy."

We urge readers to study those sections in their entirety, to get a full picture of how the revolutionary path proposed here will radically change the conditions that people face. But here are some excerpts which relate most directly to ending both forced segregation and the intolerable conditions imposed on communities where oppressed nationalities are concentrated:

Page 17: "The socialist economy will make a principle of 'raising the bottom up': giving first priority to rebuilding and improving the ghettos, barrios, and depressed rural areas."

Page 19: "Discrimination, for example, will be immediately and forcefully banned in employment, housing, and all other areas. In addition to the previously discussed policy of "raising the bottom up," the new state will provide the resources, support, and leadership required to overcome all inequalities between nationalities and all barriers to full and equal participation in every sphere and on all levels of society.

"The proletarian dictatorship will destroy the army of police, which enforces systematic terror in the ghettos and barrios, and will punish these hired thugs.

"Segregation in neighborhoods, schools, and the like will be banned and integration promoted. The proletariat will also take aim at all the national chauvinism and racist thinking, which the bourgeoisie insists is "just part of human nature." Those who organize any kind of racist movement or attacks will be crushed. As for those who are not part of such organized movements but still spout the racist ignorance so common in capitalist America, the masses will be mobilized on the spot to wage a sharp struggle with them to cast off this baggage.

"More broadly, the proletariat will promote education and struggle among the people to expose and root out the poisonous and pervasive racism inherited from capitalism. The proletariat will be aided in this by the great unity that will be forged in the revolutionary struggle to overthrow imperialism, as well as the ever closer contact between peoples of different nationalities, resulting from the integration of workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools."

Page 93: "For instance, in tackling the task of rebuilding neighborhoods after the seizure of power, Party members and other class-conscious people will not only struggle with others who do not grasp the urgent necessity for this but will set an example in practice, in self-sacrifice and voluntary labor, in order to see to it that the neighborhoods at the very bottom are rebuilt and improved first. If this policy is not actively applied, then the basis for proletarian power would be seriously undermined, because the oppressed people would rightly feel that things were no different than before--with the oppressed still on the bottom."

Page 92: "The new socialist state will take immediate and special measures to change the situation of social inequality. For instance, as opposed to the way in which capitalism enforces systematic discrimination and essentially closes off whole spheres of society to the oppressed nationalities, the new proletarian state will provide the resources, support, and leadership required to overcome all inequalities between nationalities and all barriers to full and equal participation in every sphere and on all levels of society. This will have nothing in common with the hypocritical tokenism of the bourgeoisie, but will be based instead on recognizing the crucial importance of fully overcoming the legacies of discrimination and national oppression and backing this up with the power and moral force of the proletarian dictatorship."

*****

The Draft Programme writes about how these revolutionary policies within the communities operate within the context of larger issues about how power and the new socialist state will be organized:

Page 19: "The proletariat favors the establishment of a unified socialist state in the largest possible territory. But this unity must be real, not forced, and the legitimate rights of the various oppressed peoples must be honored. The new proletarian dictatorship will uphold the right of the Black and Chicano peoples, as well as the Native American peoples, to autonomy--that is, to forms of self-government in their areas of historic concentration, within the larger socialist state. Such self-government will be carried out under principles and policies that promote equality and not inequality, strengthen unity and not division between different peoples, and serve to eliminate and not foster exploitation and oppression. The new state will provide resources and special assistance in developing these autonomous areas.

"Black people, who were forged together as an oppressed nation in the Black Belt South, will also have the right of self-determination, that is, the right to secede and form a separate African-American Republic. Though the proletariat does not favor this under now-foreseeable circumstances, it is firmly opposed to deciding this question through the use of force, as the imperialists do. Instead, the proletariat will rely on the masses, especially in this case the masses of Black people, to resolve this question."

"These land and autonomy policies will not mean that the oppressed peoples will have to live in these areas, as this would amount to a new form of segregation. Instead, the proletarian state, while favoring and encouraging unity and integration, will ensure formerly oppressed peoples the right to autonomy as part of the policy of promoting real equality between different nations and peoples."

"At the same time, the socialist state will foster and provide for the development of communities and neighborhoods, as well as workplaces, schools, and other institutions, where people of all races and nationalities not only live and work side by side but actually develop close and deep relations of friendship and mutual support. This will be in the context of the overall struggle to revolutionize society and to eliminate and eradicate all inequalities and oppressive divisions among people."

Page 95: "All the specific land and autonomy policies regarding different oppressed nationalities will NOT mean that the oppressed peoples will have to live in these areas--that would amount to a new form of segregation. And it will be the case that many, many people of these nationalities will want to live, work, and struggle side by side with people of all other nationalities in other areas of the new multinational socialist state, participating in this way in the unprecedented remaking of all society, including the struggle to uproot national oppression. But the proletarian state, while favoring and encouraging unity and integration, must and will ensure formerly oppressed peoples the right to autonomy as part of the policy of promoting real equality between different nations and peoples."


Sources

"Racial Segregation in the 2000 Census: Promising News," by Edward L. Glaeser, Harvard University and the Brookings Institutute, and Jacob L. Vigor, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University, April 2001, published by the Brookings Institute

"Analysis of Census Finds Segregation Along With Diversity," Eric Schmitt, New York Times, April 4, 2001, an analysis of a study by researchers at the State University of New York at Albany.

"Segregation Growing Among U.S. Children," Eric Schmitt, New York Times, May 6, 2001, an analysis of a study by researchers at the State University of New York at Albany.

"Chicago still trying to break racial boundary," Scott Forner, Chicago Sun-Times, March 18, 2001

Draft Programme of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA, May 2001, RCP Publications, available online at rwor.org


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