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August 29, 2020

Racial divide

Opinion

August 29, 2020

It’s true. Too often, in too many circumstances, for too long, the lives of Black people in the United States don’t matter. Black people fill prisons; their children fill terrible schools; many are poverty-stricken. But at issue here are the killings and people being left to die.

Post-Civil War arrangements by which the victorious North settled with the defeated slavocracy ensured that many Black people would not matter much and that some would die. A thousand or so were murdered in the South in 1866, reports W E B Du Bois. Over 2000 more would be lynched during the Reconstruction years, as documented recently by the Equal Justice Initiative. (1) That organization had already documented and memorialized thousands of lynching deaths occurring between 1877 and 1950.

Epitomized by the suffocation death of George Floyd on May 25, police killings of Black people a matter of lynching under state auspices brought the Black Lives Matter movement into being. But Black people are dying quite unnecessarily in the United States in other ways.

Life expectancy is far shorter and infant mortality far greater for U.S. Blacks, for example, than for white people. And, as the Covid19 pandemic plays out, “The lives of disproportionately black and brown workers are being sacrificed to fuel the engine of a faltering economy.”

Journalist Adam Serwer, writing in the Atlantic, adds that, “workers at the front lines of the pandemic … have been deemed so worthless that legislators want to immunize their employers from liability.”

Significantly, even white people viewed as worthless may be in trouble. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, commenting on the Covid 19 pandemic, told a reporter that “there are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country.” Representative Hollingsworth of Indiana identified Coronavirus deaths as “the lesser of these two evils,” the other being economic collapse.

That white people die because they don’t matter is revealing. They too may be disposable if they are unnecessary, in the way, or far off. The victims of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden are remembered, as are indigenous peoples decimated by settlers and invaders, and civilians and combatants dying in U.S. wars. The political powers do not deal realistically with the near certainty that soon many millions will be dying due to climate change.

Dan Glazebrook, writing for CounterPunch is a witness. He asserts that, “one product has defined capitalism above all else: human waste.” Criticizing Britain’s management of the Covid 19 crisis, he notes that, “Superfluous people, not necessary for production, not able to participate in the market, and an ever-present threat to the stability of the system [are] the main output of the bourgeois epoch. … [S]urplus Europeans were exiled … to the colonies … to continue the process of exterminating surplus non-Europeans.

Excerpted from: ‘Under Capitalism Black Lives Are Adrift and Vulnerable’

Counterpunch.org