Progressive Labor Party on Race & Racism



Progressive Labor Party (PLP) fights to destroy capitalism and the dictatorship of the capitalist class. We organize workers, soldiers and youth into a revolutionary movement for communism.

Only the dictatorship of the working class — communism — can provide a lasting solution to the disaster that is today’s world for billions of people. This cannot be done through electoral politics, but requires a revolutionary movement and a mass Red Army led by PLP.

Worldwide capitalism, in its relentless drive for profit, inevitably leads to war, fascism, poverty, disease, starvation and environmental destruction. The capitalist class, through its state power — governments, armies, police, schools and culture —  maintains a dictatorship over the world’s workers. The capitalist dictatorship supports, and is supported by, the anti-working-class ideologies of racism, sexism, nationalism, individualism and religion.

While the bosses and their mouthpieces claim “communism is dead,” capitalism is the real failure for billions worldwide. Capitalism returned to Russia and China because socialism retained many aspects of the profit system, like wages and privileges. Russia and China did not establish communism.

Communism means working collectively to build a worker-run society. We will abolish work for wages, money and profits. Everyone will share in society’s benefits and burdens. 

Communism means abolishing racism and the concept of “race.” Capitalism uses racism to super-exploit black, Latino, Asian and indigenous workers, and to divide the entire working class.

Communism means abolishing the special oppression of women — sexism — and divisive gender roles created by the class society.

Communism means abolishing nations and nationalism. One international working class, one world, one Party.

Communism means that the minds of millions of workers must become free from religion’s false promises, unscientific thinking and poisonous ideology. Communism will triumph when the masses of workers can use the science of dialectical materialism to understand, analyze and change the world to meet their needs and aspirations.

  Communism means the Party leads every aspect of society. For this to work, millions of workers — eventually everyone — must become communist organizers. Join Us!


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LA Strike: union sells out, workers exercise power

On day one of the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles, California almost 50,000 parents, teachers, and students converged in front of LA City Hall to march to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) headquarters. As the days went by, community support grew despite a major teacher-bashing media campaign. Day five of the strike was a turning point, with more than 60,000 people rallying, and surveys showing almost 80 percent of LA County supporting the striking teachers.
LAUSD has historically been a school district with rampant racism and segregation. The rise of charter schools intensified this, taking away students with more academic skills and leaving the public schools in poor Black and Latin communities with higher percentages of students who need intensive support with less funding.
For the first time, 86 percent of public school children in LA are non-white (kidsdata.org), and California is now the state with the highest student-to-teacher ratio in the country (Education Week 1/19). Teachers, students, and the community were fed up with class sizes of 42 students or more, racist random searches, and the slashing of nursing services to just once a week, among other problems.
Liberal politicians
kill workers power
As the strike continued, misleading liberal politicians like Governor Gavin Newsom, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond jumped on the bandwagon. The role of the Democrats and liberals in periods of increased working class fight back is to pacify us and push us towards reforming the system instead of destroying it.
For example, even though he paid lip service to the plight of students and teachers, Garcetti put pressure on the teachers’ union to go back to the bargaining table in order to quickly end the strike. This just shows that Democrats are not real allies of the working class.
Democrats like Diane Ravitch blame workers rights for “bad education.” In the liberal Brookings Institute, she stated  “American public education is a failed enterprise… Test scores are low because there are so many bad teachers, whose jobs are protected by powerful unions...”(11/10).
Under Barack Obama’s Administration, Democrat Arne Duncan unleashed racist austerity measures against Chicago public schools by starving the budget, promoting charter schools, and purged Black educators from the schools (Common Dreams.org 01/19).Despite the liberals’ rhetoric in the media, conservatives and liberals are on the same page when it comes to education.
Workers solidarity should be our only allegiance
Whether Republican or Democrat, the bosses have always tried to control the educational system in the interests of maintaining capitalism. Recently, the conservative Koch network of billionaire bosses, and politicians held a ‘seminar’ in California, where they discussed “increasing technology for individualized learning” and “pluralistic school models” (Washington Post 1/19).
This would mean higher teacher-to-student ratios and less job security, resources and basic rights for teachers and students, especially at schools in  the working class Black and Latin neighborhoods.
When it comes down to it, the union leadership is no friend to the working class either. For example, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) pushed the teachers to vote in a few short hours on day six of the strike so that they would getback to work the next day as the school board and the politicians wanted.
They touted a substandard deal as a “huge win” and got teachers and students to celebrate miniscule improvements such as lowering class size by four students over the next three years and a 6 percent raise (barely covering cost of living increases in LA). This is business as usual for union sellouts: making backdoor deals, squashing militant fightback of the rank-and-file, and further dividing the working class.
That was a lesson for a lot of the teachers in our schools: do not trust the union leadership. In one school, teachers were talking about refusing to pay union dues and saying we can’t depend on the union leadership.
Although 80 percent of the union membership voted to accept the contract, because the union leadership said that it was the best we could get, many know it will not address the heart of inequity in the schools. Some of these teachers are our coworkers who read Challenge regularly, a number that doubled after the strike.
Members of Progressive Labor Party(PLP) in LA have been working inside reform movements and inside the teachers’ union for many years. After a fight (led by members of PLP) for the teachers’ union to take an official stand against the racist police, a Racial Justice Committee was formed.
From struggles to implement restorative justice programs in schools, to attempts to end the racist random search policy, PLP members have struggled regularly with union members who considered themselves to be anti-racists. It’s partially because of this work that the union bargained with the district around anti-racist issues instead of just salary and class sizes. Known as “bargaining for the common good,”this is one of the main reasons the community supported the strike.
This inclusion of the community into the fight, along with the obvious support of the students, parents, and school staff in this struggle against billionaires and privitizers, was a huge forward step for the working class here. Even if the strike ended too early and gave up too many concessions, the fight itself was worth it. At one high school, after bold militant action to identify and stop scabs, there was a stronger sense of trust and unity among the teachers and staff.
 One of the teachers pointed out more clearly how school cops and administrators in heated situations become tools of state power. The strike sparked conversations about the history of the labor movement, failed unions, communist ideology, racism, and organizing the working class for revolution. Strikes are opportunities for class-conscious ideological development, but it will take more of this sort of work to turn them into schools for communism.
In order for a wave of large strikes to turn into a revolution to change the system, we have to develop class consciousness. Small things we do can have larger repercussions down the line as we build workers’ unity, anti-racism, anti-sexism and turn cynicism into scientific analysis.
The real victory of this strike was the community, students and coworkers coming together to fight for the working class, and teaching our students about the value of class struggle.
We will continue the fight together with our working class brothers and sisters to get them to see the need for revolution and a communist system in which everything, including education, will be run by and for the working class. Getting Challenge to more people and following through with people who have expressed interest in PLP events is an important next step.


Organize against racism
Members of PLP recently went to Accelerated Charters Schools in South Los Angeles to join their strike against deplorable working conditions. This is the first charter school in LA to strike, a positive development in teacher resistance against the racist capitalist education system, since one in five students in LA are now in charter schools. The Accelerated Charter Schools suffer from 50 percent yearly teacher turnover, no health insurance, huge class sizes, and firing of teachers on the spot.
This particular school has a mainly Latin student population. This is typical of charter schools. Since schools in the United States in neighborhoods with whiter and wealthier students usually get more resources, families from those neighborhoods don’t rely on charter schools. This has led to charter schools creating even more segregation and racism in schools.
One math teacher at the school told us “... good teachers are not asked to come back. They stay for one to two years before leaving. Last year, the 8th graders had six teachers (substitutes) for the first half of the year, one credentialed teacher for one month, then another teacher for the last three months.” This has created an apathetic environment, and students reject the teachers due to the high turnover. The same teacher said,“It’s just a business. If you speak up for the students and talk about shortages in the classroom, they get rid of you.”  
After 10 days of picketing, Accelerated teachers successfully forced through a contract that will both improve their working conditions and their students’ learning conditions. Some of this included: annual signing bonuses of $10,000 for teachers, the formation of a Collaborative Consensus Committee for stakeholders to discuss issues and implement improvements to school wide practices, and annual increases in the employer’s share of healthcare costs (UTLA.net 01/19). Even though they received these bonuses and necessities such as arbitration, teachers will still have enormous class sizes, short staff, and salaries that do not keep up with inflation. There is still work to be done!
PLP members have gone to both public and charter schools to show the need for unity in both sectors. The Democrats and Republicans want us to see public and charter school teachers as natural enemies. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that “... the elite types who use charters as a force for competition will see this as a big blow. We’re now seeing a mainstream shift toward neighborhood public schools with the goal being: let’s make them work for all kids.” (utla.net 01/19) However, this is a false paradigm.
In all schools they teach our kids to accept capitalism and push them into low-wage jobs, prisons, or the military. We can never have “fair contracts” under capitalism whether you are in public or charter schools. In this, public and charter school teachers are natural allies, and should continue to organize together against these racist teaching and learning conditions. To get the schools we need and deserve for all of our students and our teachers, we need to use these strikes as lessons in a school for communism.

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