[1.12.2018] Do It Like Durham!

/ Filed under Column, Prole Position




Hello, comrade subscribers! I am so happy to be able to announce a small victory in the struggle against white supremacy.

  • Do It Like Durham! The felony charges against our Durham comrades have have been DROPPED! However the struggle is not yet over. There is a new court date scheduled for February 19th, President’s Day. We must keep up the pressure against the District Attorney and the country commissioners in particular to make sure that the remaining misdemeanor charges are also dropped.


beyond bourgeois headlines

When you watch that video of our comrades tearing down that monument, did you notice how strangely crumpled? There’s a reason that piece of shit statue broke like a toy you get in a Happy Meal. The Durham monument, which was erected in in 1924, and all statues like it, were built in the 20th century by companies like Monumental Bronze Company – not out of costly granite or marble, but out of zinc, for a couple hundred bucks each. They were paid for largely by a group called United Daughters of the Confederacy, a white supremacist organization that promoted the “Lost Cause” myth in textbooks and academia. Their racist revisionism maintains that the Civil War was actually fought to maintain states’ rights and “Southern identity”. Ironically, many of these mass produced monuments were created in Northern foundries. That’s main reason that statues from this period, whether memorializing Union or Confederate soldiers, all look the identical. Monumental Bronze Company, one of the leading producers of these monstrosities, called the material they used “white bronze.” It was actually cheap zinc. And this is why when the Durham comrades toppled the statue, it caved in on itself like soft plastic. But let’s also take note of when these monuments were erected. blog_confederate_monuments4 The reason they were put up all over the South so many decades after the war is clear: to promote, mythologize, and normalize white supremacy. The erection of these monuments coincides with a period of incredibly racist reactionary backlash against the modest victories won by workers and abolitionists in the mid-19th century. By the time of Reconstruction, an organized front of white supremacists were at work enacting a new terror regime known now as Jim Crow. As Victor E. Kappeler, Associate Dean of the School of Justice Studies at the University of Kentucky, writes,

“The legacy of slavery and racism did not end after the Civil War. In fact it can be argued that extreme violence against people of color became even worse with the rise of vigilante groups who resisted Reconstruction. Because vigilantes, by definition, have no external restraints, lynch mobs had a justified reputation for hanging minorities first and asking questions later. Because of its tradition of slavery, which rested on the racist rationalization that Blacks were sub-human, America had a long and shameful history of mistreating people of color, long after the end of the Civil War. Perhaps the most infamous American vigilante group, the Ku Klux Klan started in the 1860s, was notorious for assaulting and lynching Black men for transgressions that would not be considered crimes at all, had a White man committed them. Lynching occurred across the entire county not just in the South.”

We must recognize that the struggle to destroy slavery once and for all has not yet been won. Think of how white supremacy has flourished in the era of mass incarceration. As the 13th Amendment to the US constitution, ratified in 1865, makes very clear:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Prison labor in the United States is now a billion dollar industry and the caged inmates in public and for-profit prisons are forced to work for corporations that pay them pennies or dollars on the hour. Here’s just a few of those corporations who profit from prison labor that may have heard of:

  • McDonalds
  • Walmart
  • British Petroleum
  • AT&T
  • Costco
  • Microsoft
  • Pfizer
  • UPS
  • Motorola
  • Koch Industries
  • GlaxoSmithKlein
  • Exxon Mobile

That’s not even close to being a comprehensive list. You may have also heard that enslaved workers, including many women inmates, are being paid $1 per hour to fight wildfires in California. This is incredibly back-breaking, dangerous work – two enslaved workers were killed fighting fires in 2017. This, in California, a formerly free territory where slavery was outlawed. Slavery in the form of prison labor is now legal in every state in this Union. But it should make your skin crawl when you look at the states with the highest incarceration rate. Slave-Region-1858 (1)

Click to enlarge

Prison-Rate-2016 (1)

Click to enlarge

Slavery has never been abolished in this country.In order to maintain slavery, all that was needed was to criminalize Black life: non-violent drug offenses, vagrancy, driving while Black, all manner of meaningless “offenses” that are used as a pretext to kidnap, cage, and enslave Black people. US-and-Prison-Populations

Click to enlarge

Thus the conjoined twin forces of capitalism and white supremacy have conspired to create a new form of modern slavery, and to put back in shackles and cages the people who won their nominal freedom in 1865 and again in 1964. Think of how the police harass, humiliate, assault, and murder Black men and women in this country. To reiterate Kappeler: “the Ku Klux Klan … was notorious for assaulting and lynching Black men for transgressions that would not be considered crimes at all, had a White man committed them.” The slave catcher is the Klan member is the police officer. White supremacy and slavery are still the law of the land in this country. For standing up to this vile system and tearing down their monuments, we salute our Durham comrades. Do It Like Durham!

Infographics for Prole Position by Bethany DiLello

recommended reading

  • Say Her Name!

    • When Trump took to the podium after the murderous Unite the Right rally last summer to decry the destruction of the Durham Confederate monument, he said, “”So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I notice that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down I wonder: Is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?” God, I hope so. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson were the militant leaders of a pro-slavery insurrectionist force. George Washington infamously tried to recapture his escaped slave, Ona Judge, while President. Thomas Jefferson was a slaver – and a rapist. While some people, like those Hollywood dupes in the above article, try to romanticize Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings, anyone with average moral intuition knows that as long as Ms. Hemings was property, owned by a man, she could not consent to anything that was done to her. She is one figure in the regime of sexist violence that continues to be visited against Black women. Recy Taylor is another. Read about the legacy of Recy Taylor here. Workers World also has a tribute to Ms. Taylor and Ms. Erica Garner here.



If we’ve spoken about it in the last few years, you’ve probably heard me try to get the message across that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a modern Gestapo organization that terrorizes oppressed people in this country. But as host of the Age of Napoleon podcast @trillburne wryly noted: ice A worthy correction. And with that metaphor in mind, it’s scary and disgusting that ICE continues to terrorize people and commit a series of small-scale Kristalnaachts every day. This week, ICE agents stormed into over one hundred 7-11 convenience stores across Los Angeles simultaneously, in what appears to be an even new aggressive and fascist putsch. ICE must be resisted at all costs.



ask a prole

Following up on a subscriber’s question about further new source recommendations, I want to add to the list some sources I was remiss in excluding last week.

  • Pan-African Newswire, an excellent news blog run by Workers World comrade Abayome Azikiwe.
  • Electronic Intifada, your go-to source for Palestinian resistance news.
  • Zoom In Korea, for stories about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that aren’t imperialist horseshit.
  • Venezuela Solidarity Network, for stories about Venezuela that aren’t imperialist horseshit.
  • Al-Masdar, for stories about the Arab world that aren’t…you get the idea.
  • The Forge, a news site run by our comrades down South.

I also want to give you some more to chew on regarding my criticism of Jacobin. Again, this gets more into the deeper sectarian politics among contemporary “radicals”, but check these out.

And finally, shout out to my Workers World comrades who have subscribed! It was a pleasure to meet and listen to you all at the party conference in November. Comrade subscribers, you can find all the excellent speeches and reports from my new comrades on the Workers World YouTube channel here, including my own modest contribution of an excerpted reading of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin”. I particularly recommend listening to the talks by First Secretary Larry Holmes, the POP’s Larry Hamm, Deirdre Griswold on developments in the DPRK, Abayome Azikiwe, and Philly comrade Berta Joubert-Ceci’s report on Puerto Rico. And speaking of the Workers World Party, everyone who contacted me to receive a copy of the Workers World paper should have received theirs last week. I sent out another batch of the new edition this morning. If you’d like me to send you a copy, just drop me a line with your mailing address.

In militant solidarity,

TK xo


Submit your feedback here: Ask A Prole!

Want to read previous issues of Prole Position?

You can find the entire archive at tedkelly.info.

Share Your Thoughts