America needs a left-wing alternative party that represents the 99 percent of the population, US Black Live Matter political campaigner Darletta Scruggs told a meeting in Lewisham.
Scruggs said that the reluctance of US trade unions to break from the Democratic Party was letting ordinary workers down: “America has never had a genuine labour party, and a genuine labour movement that will break from big business and the status quo.”
Scruggs told the meeting in New Cross organised by the Socialist Party that America’s two biggest parties were unreformable: “They are too tied to Wall Street and big business, and they don’t represent the interests of the workers. We need a party of the 99 percent, that fights for the poor.”
According to the US Department of Justice, approximately 35 per cent of the 2.2 million male prison inmates are African American, and African Americans make up only 13 percent of the American population.
Scruggs said this racial inequality could be traced to the exploitative nature of capitalism, and white supremacy is a product of capitalism: “capitalism is the mob boss and white supremacy is the hitman.”
She said her own experiences with poverty and racial discrimination had encouraged her to become more politically active: “Two and a half years ago I didn’t know what socialism or what capitalism was. I was a poor single mother living on the south side of Chicago. And I didn’t want to carry on in the cycle of poverty.”
For a socialist alternative to succeed, Scruggs said more like her had to become politically active: “black and brown youths need to get involved in the movement. And we need a party that stands relentlessly against big business that says no to cuts, no to austerity, and no to racism.”
Scruggs talked about the challenges that socialist groups in Seattle and Wisconsin have already experienced in securing a living wage, stressing that after the election of Donald Trump, they are likely to become increasingly difficult.
April Ashley, a Black Members Representative with Unison who also spoke at the meeting linked the issues with capitalism: “Racism is a tool to divide working people, and it is the foundation of the capitalist system. In order to defeat racism, we have to defeat capitalism. “
Ashley spoke of frustration in the UK’s black community with Obama’s presidency: “Black people in Britain felt that the election of Obama was a change for the better. [People thought] if things changed in the US then things would change in Britain, and that we could live in a post-racial society.”
She said that despite the hope brought by Obama’s presidency, black people in the UK have been affected most by austerity, and a criminal justice system that disproportionally targets black youths.