If 50% Unemployment in the Black Community Doesn’t Make You A Socialist, What Will?

50% unemployment in the black community. With existing inequities of income and wealth, it will take generations for African American families to get back to where they were a year ago. Even assuming that there is going to be some kind of “normal” to get back to.

We need systemic change of all kinds. The focus is on racism in policing these days. This cannot be emphasized enough. With people of color being stopped, harassed, beaten, shot, arrested, and imprisoned at horrific rates, there is no more pressing issue on the agenda for change.

But things don’t happen in a vacuum. Racism and poverty go hand-in-hand. Black people are kept in poverty because systemic racism offers them fewer choices, when they are already 400 years in arrears. Keeping white people in poverty sets up a dynamic in which whites think they are in competition with blacks for jobs and services. This stokes the racial conflict and prevents both races from working together. The same thing is true of our Hispanic population.

In capitalism, poverty is necessary. It’s not an unfortunate consequence, it’s part of the design. Marx called it “the reserve army of the unemployed.” Employers can count on having a large number of people who will work for substandard wages because it’s the only job they can get. This puts more money in their pocket.

So racial injustice and economic injustice are two sides of the same coin. We can’t fix one without fixing the other. The pandemic has made this abundantly clear. When so many people have lost their jobs, what are they do do? If you were barely making it before, you are sinking fast now, and nothing is being done to prevent it. Billions to bail out corporations. $1200 for you and me.

Once you understand that the capitalist system is working as designed, even though it doesn’t work for most of society, you have a choice. You are either a socialist, or you don’t care about other people and “I’ve got mine” is your guiding principle. Which will it be?