At 11:24 20/03/99 -0500, Charles wrote:

> I don't see anyway but through Black/White unity. However, from
experience in trying to win that unity, I have found that I had to move to
a tougher pro-Black stance. There is just such a heavy contradiction in
reality that I can't help but have a contradiction in my position. I try to
be honest with white comrades that I am pushing them to focus on racism
more, because of my experience, not out of self-centered resentment. Also,
as a Black person, I have found that in order to enjoy life , I have to
stay with Black people more. Even the best white people can't help but to
treat me somewhat worse than the average white person. Nonetheless, I have
genuine white friends and comrades. I was even closer to white people when
I was younger, It was from that genuine experience that I concluded that
for my own mental health I had to spend most of my social time with black
>I'm sorry if this sounds contradictory, but I am trying to be truthful. I
don't feel the same on e-mail. 
>Politically this means what I say. I focus on white/black unity, but my
method of pursuing it , after much experience, has more emphasis on my own
self-respect than in the past. In the end, white workers will want to join
with black wokers who have self-respect. Self-respect begets respect from
>I raise black /white unity in the Black Radical Congress, but I also raise
the obligation of white radicals to fight racism more fiercely than ever.

Well that certainly sounds truthful. And contradictory in the best sense of
the word. I think we carry political, social, and economic contradictions
around inside us.

I am interested and encouraged that Charles finds the internet at its best
a way to exchange marxist ideas across particular groups and struggles. At
its best it could fulfil that role which used to be provided by a more
hierarchical democratic centralist communist party. To assist
workers/working people to unite. 

I wonder if both Charles and I  have tried too hard to solve these problems
consciously. What Charles writes makes sense to me, that *in practice* it
is necessary to work with and alongside a particular group, (probably your
own for maximum effectiveness and peace of mind) and to accept that there
will be some contradictions with other groups and other comrades. That is
OK so long as they are handled non-antagonistically.

I think we get our self respect, and I think Marx said that too, from how
we see ourselves reflected in other human beings. 

I certainly agree that  black assertiveness is necessary to build
white/black unity. 

I was thinking of Robeson's New Deal type song "Ballad for Americans", when
I read the black assertive post that Charles forwarded from Nelson Peery.
The song is about white/black unity, and in himself Robeson embodied black
assertiveness magnificently. But he was not sufficiently linked into the
black movement in his own country, and as a person became a symbol in other
countries, and could not resist being made a victim in his own. 

If Charles and Nelson Peery and many others can work more effectively with
a wider more consciously assertive black movement in what does seem to be a
united front, then that is progress. 

I note that Louis Farrakhan is unwell and maybe his impetus will pass to
more conscious forces. I was also struck by the assertiveness of Martin
Luther King's son (Dexter?) in his meeting with the white James Earl Ray.

On a personal note I experience this from another angle. As a son of the
administrative/managerial intelligentsia I was fortunate to go to an
academically good school rather than the most snobbish. The contradictions
of education placed Forster's Passage to India on the syllabus. This
electrified my sense of disquiet at the hypocrisy of English "middle class"
life and placed it in an international context of manifest injustice, which
challenged all imperialist self-satisfaction.  The story ends with
circumstances, and the very land, appearing to reinforce Aziz' view that a
friendship between members of oppressed and oppressor nations is impossible. 

I read Charles post to say that to the extent this is possible, it is wise
to be aware of the contradictions and not fight them too hard.

Chris Burford


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