How to Demand Racial Justice Right Now

How to Demand Racial Justice Right Now

Now is a moment of historical urgency, demanding action from organized socialists. If you are in a socialist organization, here are some concrete questions you could be asking in this moment to orient solidarity action:

  1. What demands by Black-led organizers and communities are at the forefront of our city’s movement, and which of those demands moves toward an abolitionist goal?
  2. How can my organization be publicly, vocally supporting the movement demands in all channels of our propaganda, and what ways can all individual chapter members incorporate themselves in that plan?
  3. Which organizational structures have the capacity to rapidly organize demonstrations on a weekly or twice weekly basis? Do new structures need to be created to facilitate action?
  4. What information needs to be communicated to the entire chapter on a regular basis to support members showing up in an organized contingent to protests?
  5. What can our union members and unorganized members do in their workplaces to provide ideological and material support to the demands identified above?

These are just questions, meant to begin the conversation. Here are some answers that come to mind:

  1. “Cops out of schools” and “Defund the police” are great demands. Give #Defund some teeth by demanding, as Mariame Kaba suggested, 50% to 75% reduction of police budgets within the first year (making sure that shrinks the actual number of police employed), and redistribution of those funds toward schools, health clinics, and other vital services in Black communities. This is only a start, but it gives us concrete and relevant goals to achieve.
  2. Infographics are one thing, but really there needs to be postering up and down every single street with the names of those murdered by the police, along with the demand (cut the city police budget by 50% to 75% within the first year) and a short URL to get involved, leading to a website that has signups for weekly (or more frequent) meetings. Use those email lists to blast out the same URL, and those meetings should be organizing the posterings as well as the demos.
  3. Probably any working group that meets more than once per month has the capacity to do this, but new structures can be thrown together within 24 hours if the political will is there (it is in the general public). Start a Signal chat, set up a meeting on Zoom or Jitsi for the following night. Invite people from other organizations, particularly Black-led organizations.
  4. Protest schedules should be posted on any organizational websites available. If there are none, start a blog. Pool some money and order a big banner, tell everyone a meeting spot near the demonstration, and march together.
  5. Draft resolutions in support of defunding and utilize any existing labor networks to get them passed. The purpose of getting resolutions passed is to gauge support among coworkers for more substantive action. If that support is already there, skip the first step and demand union coffers lend financial support to local organizing groups, and if possible, send out demonstration information to the membership and have a union contingent at the next demonstration.

Sean Larson is a Chicago-based socialist and an editor at Rampant Magazine.