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The ink was barely dry on the Supreme Court affirmative action decisions when, from sea to shining sea, there was a collective sigh of relief by civil rights activists and organizations. For months, many have been on the edge of their seats, fingernails gnawed to the nub, waiting for what they were certain would be a dreadful moment in history. Thus, when a right-wing court declined to eliminate affirmative action, there was surprise, if not shock, in many quarters. However, for we revolutionaries, these rulings came as no surprise. Once we observed the most elite elements of the military-industrial complex lining up to support affirmative action, it became clear to us that the cases could have only one outcome.

During this period, there is real danger in assuming that the battle is won. The truth is that the real fight has just begun. To understand this, one must look beyond the gentle smiles of corporate executives and military generals who stand before cameras expressing their delight with rulings that allow them to pursue their supposedly noble goal of "diversity." If one understands the history and dynamics of the corporate and military worlds, one understands that, in these worlds, there are no circumstances which occasion acts of pure benevolence. In every case, there is an ulterior motive that is driven by a never-ending quest for power and profits.

“Rainbow” imperialism

Even before dozens of multi-national corporations filed briefs in support of affirmative action, their executives explained quite frankly that as the globalization scenario continues to unfold, people of color will be needed to represent big companies in the southern hemisphere. It is much more likely that, in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, it will be possible to negotiate agreements that allow for exploitation of resources and markets if a corporation can send a "brother" as its spokesperson. The pool of people to play this role would certainly diminish if affirmative action could not facilitate the matriculation of people of color at major universities.

As for the military, it works hand-in-glove with the corporations to secure control of vital resources like oil – by force if necessary. The invasion of Iraq was only one chapter in a continuing saga. As we witness the quiet, but growing presence of the U.S. military in Africa, we need not speculate long about the future combat locations. Affirmative action ensures the possibility of putting a face of color on U.S. attacks by providing a steady stream of future military policy makers and spokespersons. If, for example, the U.S. decides to effect a "regime change" in Zimbabwe, how can it be racist if Colin Powell is the primary spokesman? All of this undermines a long history of international solidarity of the oppressed. In 1979, when the Sandinistas took power in Nicaragua, one of their first acts was to declare Martin Luther King’s birthday a holiday because of their strong identification with the struggles of African people in the U.S. In that same year when militant Iranians took hostages at the U.S. embassy, Blacks were released almost immediately for the same reason. How much solidarity will remain if people of color become the face of U.S. imperialist aggression?

Alternatives to military careers

Thus, the task that lies squarely before us is to compete with the military-industrial complex for the hearts and minds of young beneficiaries of affirmative action. For its part, the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) has resolved to steer young people away from careers in the military. The organization’s resolution calls for: "...an educational campaign that uses historical data to demonstrate the misuse of people of African descent by the U.S. military and to promote the proposition that U.S. military service of any kind is highly undesirable and should be avoided by descendants of enslaved Africans." The resolution also pledges the organization’s assistance with identifying and developing alternative career opportunities. This is a mammoth, but essential task that NCBL is determined to perform. The organization invites assistance by all persons and organizations willing to help throw a monkey wrench in the military-industrial complex’s affirmative action strategy.

Mark P. Fancher chairs the National Conference of Black Lawyers’ Section on International Affairs and World Peace. His e-Mail address is mfancher@sugarlaw.org

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