Towards a Socialist Anti-Racism: Activist Advice

Campus Activist Projects for Anti-Racist & Socialist Struggles

As you may know, we have decided to focus this year on anti-racist politics as a national project for YDS. To assist in this endeavor, the Coordinating Committee (CC) has been collectively working on a set of resources that can help you to establish your own campaigns, adjusted to your own local settings.

Whenever possible, the CC recommends the following to YDS chapters:

1) Link Worker Movements to Anti-Racist Struggles: YDS Chapters should aim to establish genuine relationships with on-campus workers, many who tend to be of color, in order to support attempts at unionization. This means finding out from both the unions and workers themselves what priorities they currently have in their organizing campaigns, if any campaigns exist. It also means understanding the larger context in which workers and their institutions exist and are able to effectively organize. Here, the Student Labor Action Project and some of our YDS locals have experience that we can learn from on effective labor organizing alongside racial justice.


2) Work Directly with Black Lives Matter and Other Related Anti-Racist Groups: With DSA having officially endorsed the Movement for Black Lives policy platform, YDS chapters should make it a priority to work with groups that make that platform central to their organizing. The combination of an anti-racist and anti-capitalist critique alongside concrete policy demands makes it one of the most important ways that chapters can engage in anti-racist movement building. At the same time, the CC highlights that although chapters should work with BLM chapters, we should not fall trap to a solely black-white paradigm that makes further attempts of multiracial solidarity invisible. We should also emphasize that, although multiracial solidarity is what we aim for, specifically anti-black racism and immigrant blaming are the leading forces to combat in all racial justice work.


3) Make the Pedagogy Political: YDS chapters can engage in ethnic and gender studies campaigns both within their school and the broader community. Chapters should aim to establish genuine relationships with organizations led by people of color in order to understand and support the organizing activities that they have prioritized. It is crucial that if no such a department or requirement exists as of yet to understand racism and sexism, in addition to class, then YDS chapters should push for the establishment of such spaces. Furthermore, any already existing departments constantly face the risk of losing their funding without the demands of student radicals to back them. These departments or requirements are important for a socialist vision because they attempt to recognize the politics and histories of people of color in a world that has delegitimized their agency in world history. For a socialist vision to emerge there needs to be the recognition of an agency that mediates the relationship between the working class and the dispossessed.

4) Build a Campus Culture of Debate and Discussion: Chapters can establish monthly events that provides an ongoing theme to connect campaigns to anti-racist political education. These events can be co-created with other organizations or independent, but they should focus on the larger context of why these campaigns are important. One such event could be a screening of the movie No Mas Bebes in order to examine the connection between race, sex, and working class dehumanization. Another could be a history of socialists of color who have struggled to unite both an anti-capitalist and racial justice vision when white leftists of the past denied these as corresponding themes.


Internal Education and Collective Study

In addition to anti-racist organizing, the CC recommends that chapters use this opportunity to engage in anti-racist collective study. Currently, the Young Democratic Socialists Virtual Reading Group is deciding between one of two books: The Black Radical Tradition, a collection of works from various radical black authors over the past century, including the Combahee River Collective, Claudia Jones, C.L.R. James, Huey Newton, and W.E.B DuBois. The other is From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an analysis of Black Lives Matter and the underlying issues that created the movement.

To choose which book you and/or your chapter would rather read, please fill out this form. In addition to those books, the CC will include additional readings on a Google Drive. Please feel free to contribute to the folder by sending the CC links which we can then add. A democratization of educational work on anti-racism cannot come into existence if only the leadership provides the work material. You all have better understanding of what pertains to effective local activism and political education material than we do.

In Conclusion

We wish you good luck on your semester. Please remember to let us know about your campaigns! We highly recommend that each chapter publish a short piece for the Activist blog and/or their own school newspapers to report on their political activism. Publishing projects do not necessarily require specific campaign around racial justice, but rather are an attempt to revitalize the blog and the student community around you. This way you can see the different campaigns throughout the country, and those in your school, to establish a deeper network and solidarity that go beyond our Google Hangouts and Winter/Summer conference.


Young Democratic Socialists Coordinating Committee