In this article for Jacobin, David Stein, lecturer of African American Studies and History at UCLA asserts that class and economic struggles are, and have always been, central components of the black radical tradition. In this review of black radical and leftist politics, Stein points to the radical economic proposals of black freedom fighters throughout history.
The recent exchanges between Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cedric Johnson, and Brian Jones are part of a growing discussion about the exploitation, exclusion, and oppression of black people in the US. Centrally concerned with questions of race and class, these debates draw on a distinguished intellectual pedigree that includes scholars like Cedric Robinson, whose concept of “racial capitalism” emphasizes how “the development, organization, and expansion of capitalist society pursued essentially racial directions.”
Black freedom struggles, acting on this analysis without necessarily giving it the same name, have placed employment and economic sustenance at the core of their agenda since at least Reconstruction. Indeed, arguably no social force in American society has fought as strenuously for these goals as the multifaceted black left.
Read more of this article at Jacobin.