Recovering the Dialectic of Race and Class Struggle in the USA

Joseph G. Ramsey

Cedric Johnson’s contributions to this New Politics Symposium challenge us to confront the complexity of actually existing Black political life without falling back on the homogenizing assumptions of a “Black exceptionalism” that denies African Americans the same level of class, cultural, regional, and ideological diversity routinely extended to other similarly-sized groups (such as, for instance, the entire population of Canada). Johnson further urges us to recognize, in light of “Black Lives Matter,” that slogans which may “galvanize” street mobilization can also “enshroud” crucial underlying issues.  Just because a banner or slogan is suddenly popular is not a reason to refrain from critical thinking about it—which is not necessarily to say that such a slogan should be dropped entirely, either.  The question then, is how to approach such “race-first” tendencies in light of our broader historical and materialist analyses and socialist politics.

[Read Ramsey's complete response at the New Politics website. For his original study addressing Cedric Robinson's appraisal of Richard Wright, see 'Sifting the “Stony Soil” of Black Marxism: Cedric Robinson, Richard Wright, and Ellipses of the Black Radical Tradition' which appeared is S&D #83-84.