TTT Vol 2 #3 April 1989
WHERE WE STAND
P.A.R.T. tries to make a distinction between “racism” and “prejudice”. Prejudice is a problem of individuals, often psychologically rooted in a lack of self-esteem, and a corresponding need to put someone else down so you can feel “superior.” But racism is much more than this; it is a system, a set of relations between nations and groups of people, based on the denial of a decent life or even life itself to one group so the other group can enjoy privileges. In U.S. and world history, racism is rooted in a process of colonialism, conquest and slavery on the basis of skin color. Racist thinking and ideas were encouraged in people to justify and enforce this system by dehumanizing its victims.
When we say racism is white people’s problem, it’s in this sense: that the powerful groups that have created and benefited from this system have always tried to convince all white people that it’s in their advantage to participate, because that makes us superior to other races. This is a process that exploits prejudice and fear. It is similar to the way kids with a weak sense of identity and self-respect get manipulated and organized by the nazis, WAR and the KKK as shock troops or a power base.
But too many white people have always bought this. Because racism is designed to put white people on top, we have a special responsibility to oppose and uproot it, not because we pity Black people, but for the sake of our own humanity as well as that of all people, and for the sake of a decent future. No one can be free while continuing to identify with their own and others’ oppressors. We believe there is only one race, the human race; but the way for the human race to unite is to recognize and overcome the oppression created by the very real system of racism.
The problem is not only racism against Black people. Men have a special responsibility to oppose male chauvinism, violence against women and homophobia. Jews have a special responsibility to oppose Zionism and brutality against Palestinians. Christians have a responsibility to oppose anti-Semitism.
The U.S. is not the only race conscious society on the planet. We can see fighting in many countries, involving the Sikhs, the Tamils, the Hindus, the Moslems, the loyalists and the Republicans in Ireland, and so on. But based on the slogan, “Think globally, act locally”, P.A.R.T. is composed of white people trying to do what we can about a big problem right here that we can and should deal with. Mostly, we think anti-racist action involves not so much just fighting with committed racists, as in carrying out education and organizing to prevent people from becoming hard-core racists in the first place, and in challenging the racist economic and political power structure.
The issue of the use of force by the anti-racist movement is a complicated one. Nazis often try to use physical violence to isolate and intimidate anti-racists. At certain times, we believe that the tactics of non-violence are correct, especially when that draws a clear distinction and helps to organize people into active opposition to nazis. On the other hand, P.A.R.T. upholds the right of people being victimized or attacked by the KKK and other racists to defend themselves and fight back.
Using weapons like knives and guns, which introduce an element of life and death, is very serious. It’s always been easy for infiltrators and provocateurs to try to sabotage people’s movements and anti-racist activity by trying to identify and involve the most militant people in unprincipled, illegal activity. People shouldn’t carry guns or similar weapons unless they know very well who they are with, and how, why and when to use weapons, and are prepared to do so effectively, to deal with a life-threatening situation. This means more than simply technical training in proficiency, but political and personal development and consciousness raising. Many people quickly turn into the opposite of what they claim to be when they are armed, and go on a power trip of their own.
We hope this helps clarify “where we stand” and would be delighted to get letters or calls about these or other issues. We also want to thank those of you who’ve been communicating about your activities and developments in your areas, and we’ll try to keep sharing it with the readers of T.T.T.
RACIST VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN L.A.
by Michael Novick
A steady drumbeat of racially motivated violence continues to grow in southern California. In October, L.A. was the scene of a cross-burning on the lawn of a Chinese family in Arcadia, a fight between several nazi skinheads and some Black and Hispanic youths in which 3 of the skinheads were shot, one critically by one of their own gang members, and repeated incidents of neo-nazi vandalism at a high school in the Simi Valley where the son of an L.A. teacher whose home was brutally vandalized by nazi skins last month attends classes.
Swastikas, racist graffiti and white supremacist slogans were painted on the tennis courts at Simi Valley High School on Oct. 12. When the school administration hushed the incident up and quickly painted over the slurs, a second round of vandalism hit the school. Walls were defaced with nazi symbols, anti-black slogans and KKK logos. Police are investigating the possibility of a connection to two earlier attacks in the area. In May, a synagogue was vandalized, and in August, $20,000 in damage was done in an episode of systematic destruction at the home of Louis Boss, a Black junior high school teacher who lives in the area. Boss’s son attends the school where the latest graffiti were put up.
The same weekend as the latest incident in Simi Valley, a synagogue in Burbank was also the target of racist vandals. Swastikas and nazi slogans and stickers defaced the doors of a temple in the suburban city. A day later, BB-pellets were fired into the home of Ted Chiang in Arcadia, where there are only a few Asian families in a mostly white neighborhood. A four-foot cross was set ablaze on their lawn. Police have no suspects.
In the most serious incident, a group of nazi skin heads from around the L.A. basin who were attending a party in Van Nuys attacked a group of Black and Hispanic youth in the parking lot of a supermarket near the party. When they got the worst of the fight that ensued, the skins ran back to the party being chased by several people. One of the other nazi-skins, according to eyewitness reports to the police, pulled out a weapon and opened fire. However, all the wounded were nazi skins. Geremi Rineman, 18, was paralyzed from the neck down, and two others were less seriously injured in the ankle and shoulder. Police have made no arrests.
In related news, the L.A. County Human Relations Commission released a report on the results of a survey of all schools in the county as to the incidence of hate crimes. About 1000 of the county’s 1500 schools responded, and almost 40% reported hate crimes and incidents in the last school year. In junior high schools, more than 50% reported such incidents, mostly against Black and Hispanic students. Black students, who are less than 15% of the student population, were the victims of more than 30% of the incidents.