Archive for the ‘Racism and anti-racism’ Category
by The Spark
Before electronic computers, and multifunctioning calculators, there were human computers. Black and white women mathematicians were tasked with turning numbers into meaningful data for NASA. Their calculations made possible many ground-breaking missions. These calculations, done by hand, with pencil and paper, often took more than a week to complete, filling six to eight notebooks with data and formulas.
Hidden Figures follows three black women “computers”: Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – and their work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia in the ‘60s.
All three of these women were brilliant mathematicians living and working in segregated and sexist Virginia. The film gives a sense of the indignities and humiliations these women endured. At one point Katherine Johnson is sent to a new department to calculate the trajectories for Alan Shepard’s space flight. The men – all white – were not (more…)
by The Spark
Before taking office, Barack Obama pledged to wind down the war in Iraq and redouble efforts to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan. “As president, I will make the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be,” he said in a major foreign policy address in July 2008 during his electoral campaign, promising to finally defeat and destroy “all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan.”
Obama also promised to help the Afghans build their own government institutions to keep order: “I will focus on training Afghan security forces and supporting an Afghan judiciary…[to] sustain their own security.”
Lasting peace, Obama assured his audience, would depend on not only defeating the Taliban but helping “Afghans grow their economy from the bottom up.” He added, “We cannot lose Afghanistan to a future of narco-terrorism.”
He went on to emphasize: “This is a war that we have to win.”
Judging from the lack of news coverage in this country about Afghanistan, one would assume that Obama’s strategy had (more…)
The PFLP released the following statement on November 26:
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine extends its condolences to the Cuban people, the Palestinian people and the revolutionary movements of the world upon the loss of the former prime minister and president of Cuba and the historic international revolutionary leader, Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, on Friday, November 25, 2016.
Castro’s internationalist revolutionary commitment to fighting imperialism and capitalism – manifest in the revolutionary victory against US imperialism and its puppet Batista regime in the 1959 Cuban revolution – consistently stood with the oppressed peoples of the world in their confrontation of imperialism, Zionism, racism and capitalism. Throughout his life, Fidel was a supporter and an example of revolutionary struggle in (more…)
On this blog, and in previous incarnations, we have consistently argued that Labour and National are parties which are utterly dedicated to the management of capitalism. The main difference between them is that National are the frontstabbers and Labour are the backstabbers. Among those whom Labour has consistently backstabbed are migrant workers from the Pacific. The piece below is from October 2008, when a number of us constituted the central leadership core of the Workers Party and two current Redline writers and editors were WP candidates. It is a WP press release about Helen Clark lying over who started the notorious dawn raids on Pacific Islanders in the 1970s.
“Remember the National Party initiated dawn raids in the 1970s?” Ms Clark told reporters on the election campaign trail in South Auckland on 23 October.
“Either Ms Clark is ignorant of the facts or she is knowingly concealing the truth,” says Daphna Whitmore, Workers Party candidate for Manukau East. “Labour was in government from 1972 until 1975, and the dawn raids on Pacific Islanders began in 1974.”
A quick check of the Samoan history section of the Encyclopedia of NZ confirms that, indeed, Labour began the raids nearly two years before National came to office.
The raids continued under National, and in 1982 Muldoon stripped 100,000 Samoans of NZ citizenship. Although some individual Labour MPs opposed this, when Labour got back into power in 1984 it didn’t reverse Muldoon’s policy.
“National and Labour have an appalling history of attacking immigrants,” says Whitmore.
The Workers Party is campaigning against Labour’s Immigration Amendment Bill, and says it is a (more…)
This article first appeared in one of the predecessor publications to this site, namely revolution magazine, issue 21, August-October 2003. While the names of Labour’s bigots have changed, their political position on the issue remains.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Samoan protests for the return of their NZ citizenship point up the need for a campaign for open borders and workers’ solidarity as against Labour’s denial of Samoan (and other migrants’) rights, argues Philip Ferguson
In late March, thousands of Samoans protested in Wellington, Christchurch and in Samoa itself, calling for the repeal of the NZ Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act of 1982. This legislation, introduced by Muldoon’s National Party government, had stripped 100,000 Samoans of NZ citizenship rights. The abolition of these citizenship rights was part of a miserable 70-year record of NZ dealings with the Samoan people.
NZ had invaded Samoa in 1914 and was the colonial power there for the next five decades. Just after WW1, the NZ administration bore responsibility for an influenza epidemic that wiped out a quarter of the population. The NZ government then viciously suppressed the mass movement for Samoan independence, including gunning down unarmed independence protesters in 1929.
After independence, NZ continued to act as lord and master of Samoa and other former NZ-ruled countries in the Pacific. For instance, in the 1970s NZ governments masqueraded as generous aid donors to the Pacific. Yet, at that very same time, for every dollar of aid the Pacific countries of the Commonwealth received from New Zealand, they lost $3.74 in trade with this country. Most of the NZ aid was actually spent on NZ commodities, services and personnel. Moreover, it had little impact on expanding Pacific islands exports to NZ. The 1970s also saw mass raids on Pacific islands ‘overstayers’ in NZ and large-scale deportations.
Last year Helen Clark apologised to Samoans for the crimes committed against them under NZ colonial rule and for the raids of the 1970s. In response to the recent round of marches for the re-establishment of Samoans’ citizenship rights, Clark and her Ethnic Affairs minister, Chris Carter, have emphasised how much they “value” the Samoan contribution to NZ society and the Labour Party. However, they claim, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since 1982 and nothing can be done to reverse that legislation!
Labour’s stance should come as no surprise. Despite masquerading as ‘friends’ of ‘ethnic communities’, Labour’s actual record, from the time it was founded, is one of campaigning for racist immigration policies when out of office and implementing them when in office.
Labour was founded in 1916 and very quickly began campaigning for the ‘White New Zealand’ (more…)
by The Spark
Forty-five years ago, prisoners rebelled in Attica, a New York state prison. The rebellion lasted five days until it was savagely repressed, leaving 31 prisoners and nine guards dead, all shot by the police.
There had been previous revolts in the prisons. From 1950 until Attica, there were some 50 other prison uprisings. But that didn’t prevent a prison official from declaring in 1966, they were “proud, satisfied and happy” with their system.
In fact, as events were to show, the prisons were becoming a breeding ground for revolt.
By 1970, many prisoners had begun to call themselves “revolutionaries.” The black movement and the U.S. war in Vietnam led to political radicalization for many. These attitudes had spread throughout the population, including among prisoners.
A new type of prisoner appeared: those condemned in ordinary criminal cases whose political consciousness (more…)