Black Lives Matter Solidarity Statement from the Working-Class Studies Association

The Working-Class Studies Association releases the following statement (also downloadable as a PDF here) in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and standing in solidarity with people around the world who are protesting against racist violence and fighting for racial justice:

Black Lives Matter

The Working-Class Studies Association supports the Black Lives Matter movement and stands in solidarity with people around the world who are protesting against racist violence and fighting for racial justice. Racism and racialized violence is, and has always been, interconnected with capitalist and colonial systems of oppression and exploitation.  In this regard, we stand strongly in support of the interconnected movements that are working to transform these violent and rapacious structures of racial capitalism which continue to perpetuate violence against racialized communities of color and formerly colonized peoples on every continent.  It is long past time to end that system, and bring a new world from the ashes of the old.

Black Lives Matter.

The history of the United States is a violently racist one, beginning with white settler colonists committing genocide on and dispossessing Native people from their lands, and violently enslaving and exploiting the labor of Black people. American society is still fundamentally structured by the continuing oppression of Black and racially minoritized peoples, systemic institutional racism, and economic exploitation.   This historical and ongoing structural racism creates the violence seen in police forces across the country and is responsible for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the many other predominantly Black and Brown victims of police brutality. Such killings are a part of a long and ongoing history of lynching where violent racist white men – both police and civilian – murder Black people with impunity.

This kind of violent structural racism is not confined to the United States. In the UK, the police also disproportionality target Black and racialized ethnic minority people.  The police killing of Mark Duggan in 2011 sparked days of protest across the UK. In 2018 the British government unjustly deported members of the Windrush Generation – Black workers from the Caribbean who were invited to emigrate to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. Australia was also built through white settler colonial violence.  The state continues its long history of murdering and incarcerating Indigenous people.  Since 1991, 437 Indigenous people have died in police custody in Australia. For centuries, racial capitalism and white settler colonialism have engaged in the systematic looting of the resources of the majority of the world’s Black, Brown and working-class communities. It has created misery and despair for Black and Brown peoples around the globe.  This must end.

Black Lives Matter.

In addition to being a contemporary example of racist police violence, as a working-class Black man, George Floyd’s situation of being laid off and looking for work due to the Covid19 pandemic also exemplifies another dimension of racial inequality that has been experienced disproportionately by Black and racially minoritized working-class people. The current crisis has clearly shown that Black and racially minoritized  people are made particularly vulnerable to the virus and to the economic effects of the pandemic by ongoing structural racism across nearly every institution. It reveals the ways that insecure work, homelessness, food insecurity, lack of adequate medical care, and underfunded educational institutions, lead to the poverty and despair that is then left to be solved through police violence, especially in racially minoritized working-class communities.

While the privileged few of the white and wealthy have been able to shield themselves from the worst effects of the pandemic, Black, Brown and working-class people have lost their jobs or have been forced to risk their health and lives by continuing to work  in essential roles, often for low wages and in unsafe conditions. We are not in this together. Black and Brown working-class communities have been brutally exploited for their labor and have suffered and died in disproportionate numbers due to these ongoing and institutionalized systems of inequality.

Black Lives Matter.

The Working-Class Studies Association is an international organization which promotes the study of transnational, multiracial working-class people and their cultures. We are a group made up of academics, activists, teachers, writers, poets, journalists, practitioners, students, artists and a wide range of others interested in developing the field of working-class studies. The aim of the Association is to highlight the diverse lives and experiences of multi-racial and multi-ethnic working-class peoples around the world. It also seeks to reveal how class works by examining capitalist class-based systems of inequality in order to advocate for a more just world for multiracial working-class peoples. Members of the Working-Class Studies Association live and work in many different countries and contexts and work to fight race and class-based inequalities and discrimination in our respective communities.

The Working-Class Studies Association loudly and with one voice condemns all forms of racist oppression and calls for an end to racist police violence. We commit ourselves, as both individual members, and as an organization, to working in solidarity with Black, Brown and working-class communities to dismantle ongoing systems of racial capitalism.

Black Lives Matter.