My mother was a kitchen girl//My father was a garden boy//That’s why I’m a communist//I’m a communist//I’m a communist! – Popular apartheid-era song still sung today
The recent armed conflicts between miners and police in South Africa are part of a long legacy of class struggle against the capitalist state. Recently we in AS along with our comrades in La Pena 2nd Gen organized a forum to tap some of our comrades’ knowledge on the incredible history of South African working-class resistance, both against apartheid and against the neoliberal African National Congress.
The first presentation “The Birth of the Modern Trade Union Movement in South Africa”, by former Black Panther Gerald Smith, is a very useful initial overview of South African history from a class struggle perspective; it’s also a more specific history and analysis of Black labor militancy in the 1980s under apartheid. Learn something from his dynamic speaking style!
The second presentation, “Social Struggles and the Capitalist State in South Africa since 1994”, by UC Berkeley PHD student Zachary Levenson, focuses on post-apartheid history. Levenson recently returned from 6 months in South Africa and describes the terrain of struggle and nature of the capitalist state after apartheid.
When we think about the victims of police brutality in our communities, names like Oscar Grant and Sean Bell come to mind. We know that young black men are constantly victimized by the police, but we don’t often talk about the way police violence is used against womyn.
Police brutality, when it happens to a Sean Bell or Oscar Grant, quickly takes a certain shape in the public’s mind…(he was a drug dealer, a gang banger, etc.)
But what about the womyn who are victims of police brutality? We don’t talk about police violence that happens to womyn enough or at all, so we’d like to spark that discussion.
This first video is of police deputy Paul Schene, beating this teen girl, who’s been incarcerated. This happened last year, but he went to court back in March, and pleaded not guilty to 4th degree assault. This was before the video was leaked. Before this he had been investigated for shooting people twice, killing one, in the line of duty. Both times his acts of violence had been justified. How surprising.
The second video is news footage of the cops beating another black teen, Sheila Stevenson, whose crime was bicycling on the sidewalk at night.
We need to start talking about the ways in which police brutality is used to discipline womyn’s bodies. Whether it be strip-searches, cavity-searches, pat-downs, rape, sexual harassment, or just straight up assault and murder, womyn are systematically targeted by a police apparatus that represents and is a reflection of the racist, sexist, capitalist state it serves.
Here’s a report (with video) discussing the recent May Day Protest in Calcutta where sex workers marched demanding the legalization of sex work.
The question of sex work is touchy in general, but amongst the Left and Feminists in particular. There are groups denouncing those who seek de-criminalization of sex work in the Bay Area due to the entanglement of human trafficking which they claim goes unchecked if sex work is decriminalized.
These Indian sex workers are demanding the right to be able to earn a legal wage in return for their work. If they were to get this, wouldn’t it represent a more accessible terrain for class struggle on their part?
You must be logged in to post a comment.