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“Necessary Trouble” and a Long, Hard Struggle: Talking Movements With Sarah Jaffe at Truthout

Truthout has been running my stories for quite a few years, supporting my coverage of the Chicago Teachers Union, my trips to the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy, my long-form reports on what happened after Occupy, and much more. Necessary Trouble is a Progressive Pick at Truthout, meaning that you can order the book through them and donate to progressive reporting (including my own). Joe Macaré interviewed me about the book, the writing process, the value of electoral politics, and more.

You also show how white people’s reluctance to acknowledge racism as an issue has caused setbacks, from labor’s Operation Dixie to Oath Keeper groups that split over whether or not to show solidarity with Black protesters in Ferguson. What have been the hallmarks of movements and campaigns where solidarity across racial lines has been possible?

My favorite example is in Robin D.G. Kelley’s Hammer and Hoe, a book everyone should read about the Communist Party in Alabama during the Depression years. The Communist Party had a lot of problems in the US, but what it did in the South, particularly, was take the struggles of Black workers and Black sharecroppers as key to the class struggle it wanted to wage in the US. So the Communist Party in Alabama was made up of those workers, and they fought against lynching and police violence and false arrests alongside labor struggles for fair wages and equal treatment and inclusion for Black workers in unions. That wasn’t a sideline struggle, it was the¬†struggle.

I was saying that we tend to personalize racism. We think of racism as people who say racist things or join racist groups or show up at a Trump rally with a sign saying “Build the Wall.” We don’t think of racism as where houses are built, what kind of a mortgage you get and what kind of air you breathe. We spend a lot of time trying to cleanse ourselves from the original sin of racism rather than trying to come up with ways to fight to change the systems that maintain it.

Read the rest at Truthout.

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