William E. Bohannan - A letter to american negroes

ALettetroAmericNanegroes Dear Brothers and Sisters: In recent years there have been hundreds of books and articles describing the horrible Jim Crow conditions under which we are forced to live in this country. I don't intend to repeat those descriptions here. There is no need for me to do so when we are violently reminded about the Jim Crow system every time we turn around. Instead, I am going to discuss the reason for these conditiom and the program to abolish them. Jim Crow is not a "natural" or "accidental" evil that grew up by itself, alone and without help. It had to be hatched, it had to be nursed, it had to be trained to carry out the dirty job it was intended for. All this was done by capitalism, the profit system, because it is economically and politically profitable to the employers to divide the white and colored workers so that they will be suspicious of each other and fight among themselves instead of uniting to fight against the employers who exploit both. Lynch-law, discrimination and segregation are products of capitalism - just like unemployment, high pricet1 and war - and to get rid of them we have to get rid of capitalism itself. I know that many Negroes have not yet reached this conclusion about the need to abolish capitalism. But more and more of us, on the basis of our own experiences, are beginning to see through the lies that the capitalists spread about the nature of their system. They can no longer fool us into believing that the govern• ment is impartial when we can see it promoting and upholding Jim Crowism in all parts of the world. They cannot convince_us now that their wars are fought for democracy when they demed us the most elementary democratic rights even in the armed forces during the first two world wars and continue to deny them to us while they are preparing a third. And least of all can they keep us tied to the two-party system when before our very ey~ both of the major parties are working together like a ~earn m Congress to prevent the passage of any legislation in our mtereSl. 3 Biblioteca Gino Bianco