This week readers continued to engage with the role of Kwanzaa, responded to arguments about race and class in the criminal justice system, and the possibilities of political party boycotts. Comments came in for “Why I Can’t Celebrate Kwanzaa,” “Yes, White People Are Also Killed By The Black Mass Incarceration Regime,” and “Those Who Boycott Facebook Should Also Boycott The Democratic Party.”
In “Why I Can’t Celebrate Kwanzaa” Bruce Dixon sheds light on why the dubious character of the holiday’s founder, Ron Karenga, and his US organization stop Bruce from celebrating it. Reasons include Karenga’s convictions for torturing female members of his organization and the role of members of US in the murder of Black Panthers John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter.
Mary Kelley-Bibra writes:
“I concur with everything you've said in this article. What I would like to add, however, is my concern that in general in the US there is in some real sense ‘too much religion’ (as evidenced, for example, by absurdities such as ‘Atheist Churches’). While I agree that people ‘do have a perfect human right to adopt or make up the cultural and religious practices that suit them’ and I do understand that people everywhere have a general need to have various rituals for a variety of legitimate socio-psychological reasons (nothing to be sneezed at), I am less enamored of the idea of making up quasi-religious rites merely as a substitute for others already in practice that one has opted for whatever reasons to reject. Why do Black people feel the compulsion to have such a celebration in December that mimics (far too closely, to my mind) Christmas and/or Chanukkah? Wherein lies the sense of this? Despite its noble principles, all of which I subscribe to, the tendency nevertheless has been for Kwanzaa to succumb to increasing commercialization - something not really surprising in America. But in so doing, it reveals the extent to which it is still embedded in and inseparable from the dominant capitalist/corporatist socioeconomic system which, in addition to thriving on religious holidays which keep the cash registers ringing and the ATMs humming, governs and determines everything social, cultural, and political -- a system that I believe the majority of Black people in general reject because it is based on the perpetuation of White supremacy and privilege, institutionalized socioeconomic injustice and inequity, and cultural dominance.”
In “Yes, White People Are Also Killed By The Black Mass Incarceration Regime” Glen Ford critiques a study conducted by the World Socialist Website that argues police killings are driven by poverty rather than race. Glen argues that the centrality of black oppression.
Adam Rose Tree writes:
“Well, the truth is somewhere in between. Race and class are intersectional. That was what Michelle Alexander argued. Class construction and exploitation was central to her thesis, both historically in slavery and immediately in the turn towards Reaganomics. She argued at length the drug war as a means of terrorizing a community newly re-disenfranchsed by deindustrialization.”
In “Those Who Boycott Facebook Should Also Boycott The Democratic Party” Solomon Comissiong uses the occasion of the NAACP’s call for boycotting Facebook due to allegations of Russian trolls influencing black voters to call for a boycott of the Democratic Party.
Garret Connelly writes:
“My first boycott was South Africa, it was mostly a spiritual idea for me but I was thrilled when it worked. Yes, I knew Nelson Mandela had been in prison for years and many had suffered terribly for a long time, even so, I was personally thrilled when apartheid fell.
Now you call for a boycott of the democratic party; ‘A mass exodus of black people from the Democratic Party plantation is long overdue.’
Three cheers. Let’s look at the numbers and know we can win freedom for everyone.
Approximate US voting age figures shows a large pool ready to toss a monkey wrench into a very strange machine relationship between representative democracy, Earth, and all people who love life, health, dignity and fun;
50% of voting age people boycott or are disenfranchised
25% are registered independents
The trick is to engage those who boycott and encourage those who have been disenfranchised. Help tens of millions register as non partisan ecological socialists. Define it using few words. Will you argue against balanced budgets for democracy efficiency reasons having nothing to do with economics? Register and reregister as nonpartisan. Millions who can actually stand together and win are ready. We can and will move by 2020,”
Debates on religiosity, boycotts, and mass incarceration animate our movements. These questions will continue to be relevant in the year ahead.
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