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.
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.
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
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?
to military careers
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.
P. Fancher chairs the National Conference of Black Lawyers’
Section on International Affairs and World Peace.
address is [email protected]