The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party

The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party

CounterPunch: January 15, 2019

... listen to this recent episode of Clearing the Fog podcast featuring an interview with Howie Hawkins. On Thursday, January 17 at 8 pm EST there will be a National Conference Call featuring Hawkins elaborating on the Green New Deal. You can register here.


By Andrew Stewart

This is the first of a three part series regarding the Green New Deal. I will argue in the course of this series the method by which the Green Party should articulate a Green New Deal proposal that is radically different and distinct from that proposed by the Democratic Party, even its Progressive Caucus. Green voters and activists nationwide are encouraged to engage with to connect with activists and organizers emphasizing integrity, intersectional feminist eco-socialism, anti-imperialism, and independence from the Democratic Party. I make no claim that these views are representative of anyone but myself and welcome a vigorous but principled debate around alternative principles and methods of articulation. For one such alternative articulation, listen to this recent episode of Clearing the Fog podcast featuring an interview with Howie Hawkins. On Thursday, January 17 at 8 pm EST there will be a National Conference Call featuring Hawkins elaborating on the Green New Deal. You can register here.

[W.E.B.] Du Bois’s notion of double consciousness reflects a dialectical relationship, a unity and struggle of opposite forces in one dark body. We literally have the worldviews of two civilizations in conflict and struggle within the black mind. This double consciousness is a manifestation of a clash of civilizations, a contradiction that will be resolved by the decline of European hegemony and the transformation of human civilization. The working out of the dialectic within the consciousness of the black individual is a struggle between the hegemon of the modern world, the other (the African past), and the human future. Pregnant within the conflict in each black person is the future beyond European hegemony, an historical movement from the Age of Europe to the Age of Humanity.

– Dr. Anthony Monteiro (2011) ‘The Epistemic Crisis of African American Studies: A Du Boisian Resolution’, Socialism and Democracy, 25:1

As we enter 2019, wherein the preparations for the next presidential election will begin, it proves worthwhile to elaborate upon two basic questions:

1) What are the features of the Green New Deal promoted by the Green Party?; and

2) What differentiates it from what the Democrats propose?

The first distinction is in terms of what Greens must advocate for in general terms also. The Green Party argues that it is:

+ Intersectionally feminist;

+ Anti-colonial;

+ Anti-imperial;

+ Grounded in an affirmation of the nature of America as a settler-colonist society wherein the country was built upon the twin genocides of the Indigenous and Africans brought to this hemisphere in captivity as chattel bond slaves, which therefore requires a program of reparation and restorative justice.

While these are important principles to advocate for, they remain simply slogans without economic policy propositions to present a concrete illustration of what the Green Party is advocating for. Slogans remain slogans unless they are elaborated upon by concrete material demands using those particular lenses of analysis so to provide an example of the eco-socialist praxis promoted in the Green Party’s 2016 platform document. Reparations and restorative justice for these genocides cannot be addressed solely with a jobs program. However, it does provide some preliminary coordinates. Furthermore, recall the words of Combahee River Collective, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression,” meaning that the liberation of Black and Indigenous is the kernel of emancipation for all.

Furthermore, we need to be conscious of the explicitly racialized nature of the Roosevelt New Deal. In order to maintain his political coalition, Roosevelt intentionally crafted the balance of power in that coalition to favor the fascist southern Dixiecrats. He added measures to all of his New Deal programs to maintain the allegiance of southern politicians and voters. For instance, the National Labor Relations Act, which legalized the right to unionize and created the National Labor Relations Board to adjudicate labor disputes, intentionally excluded the majority of Black and Brown workers by barring domestic (butlers, maids, cooks, nannies, etc.) and agricultural workers from the right to form a union.

Consider also the point raised by the classic SDS pamphlet White Blindspot co-authored by Noel Ignatiev and Theodore Allen:

…“Fair employment through full employment” is another way of saying that job discrimination against Negroes will be maintained as long as it is possible to do so… Raising the demand for a larger slice of the pie for the working class does not in itself alter the apportionment of the slice within the working class. In fact, the ruling class has always utilized every concession won from it to increase the gap between white and black, thus turning even a victory of the working class into a cause of greater division. The shorter work week, with the promise of more jobs for those last hired, does not challenge the pattern of who shall be last hired [namely Blacks], and therefore does not alter the inequality of white and black workers.

If we look back on the history of the 1963 March on Washington and strip away the multiple coats of saccharine lacquer that have transformed that memory of history into something totally divorced from its original intent and execution, one is forced to realize the true nature of the March. As a project of Black union leader and Socialist A. Phillip Randolph, it had been formulated originally during World War II as a protest against the racism of the Roosevelt administration’s job programs both during the New Deal period and also during the war years, when the entirety of American industry was transformed into a centrally-planned economy with strict rationing and quotas mandated by the federal government. And despite the mandate of the war transforming the economic landscape into something unseen before or since, the white supremacist nature of the project excluded Black and Brown workers so significantly that Randolph was compelled to organize a massive protest march that notably did not materialize during wartime because of prioritizing “national unity” over combatting white supremacy within the governing coalition.

Twenty years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. took up the banner and brought forward a successful march that again protested the racialized exclusion of Black workers from a full employment economy during a Democratic Party presidency which was maintaining many elements of the New Deal agenda. Indeed, a year later, when Lyndon B. Johnson won the presidency but lost the South to Barry Goldwater because of his passage of the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts, America witnessed the collapse of the New Deal coalition and went on to see the problematic implementation of the Great Society legislation. Johnson’s refusal to run for a second term in 1968 had multiple reasons, including the genocidal Vietnam War, but part of his collapse in popularity stemmed from the loss of a New Deal coalition to support the Great Society. The Dixiecrats that year instead elected Republican Richard Nixon as a self-described “law-and-order” candidate who began the racist War on Drugs.

I for one have no interest as a Green in proposing a color-blind economic program that seeks to replicate the logic of a racist program that was only enacted on the basis of Jim Crow apartheid’s security and maintenance for another generation.

At this juncture, the Democratic Party, even its Progressive caucus, is not proposing such a framework for their version of a Green New Deal (hereafter DGND). While some would argue that Greens should make a tactical alliance with the reformist elements in the Democratic Party (cf. Is the Green New Deal a Revolutionary Reform? by Richard Moser, 12/21/18, CounterPunch), I beg to differ with that proposition and instead argue that such an alliance would effectively and totally negate the implementation of a viable Green New Deal that makes a real impact on our climate catastrophe. The Democratic Party’s neoliberal formulation of identity politics, featuring politicians who hail from a variety of demographics while promoting war and austerity, is incapable at this juncture of creating a truly transformative jobs and works program. The proposition to the contrary is simply erroneous and easily disproved.

By contrast, our Green New Deal, grounded squarely in the Four Pillars and the Ten Key Values of the Green Party of the United States, is intended to create truly revolutionary change and alter the social landscape for the better in a permanent fashion. To do this, I argue it must emphasize political orientations it already espouses in other contexts.

The first distinction to indicate in my view is the centrality of the Indigenous and African American worker in the Green New Deal. There are three reasons for this that merit serious elaboration.

The first is in regards to restorative justice and reparations for the continuing and persistent crimes of genocide and chattel slavery. It is incumbent upon the American government to proactively affirm its responsibility for these crimes and make meaningful restitution for them in terms of lasting social and economic justice. Furthermore, we are already seeing these communities on the front-lines experience the repercussions of the climate crisis, whether it was the historic Black community in New Orleans that was displaced by Hurricane Katrina or the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe that was called the “first US climate refugees” (cf. First US climate refugees get $48 million to move by Madison Margolin, 5/3/16, Christian Science Monitor) Our Green New Deal must be attenuated to their needs rather than those of the 1%, which seems to be the inclination of the DGND.

The second pertains to demographics. We know from population data derived from censuses that the majority of the Black population is located in urban centers nationwide, such as New York, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, and Atlanta. Indigenous are found predominantly in Anchorage, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and New York City. These urban centers are important locations for deployment of renewable energy infrastructure. America is slowly but surely being re-oriented towards urban as opposed to suburban landscapes, accelerating the pace of gentrification nationwide. A jobs program centered on Black and Brown workers may be a useful systemic way to fight back against historic Black community displacement.

The third is a synthesis of these two. It is incumbent upon sustainability-focused public policy to implement renewable energy infrastructure in the major urban centers and place emphasis upon affirmative action hiring practices, including in particular, as a constituent element of a wider reparations package, the elimination of any hiring practices that prevent the formerly incarcerated from being given meaningful employment in the various Building and Trades unions as well as other sections of the labor market. A jobs and public works program is incapable of making a significant reparation with regards to the twin genocides that birthed the United States; however, such a program can provide the preliminary coordinates for such efforts.

Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report says in an interview:

You won’t see any frontal assault on the mass Black incarceration state from those aspects of Black American political activity that revolve around the Democratic Party. What we’ll see is a lot of hooplah about ‘prison reform’, tinkering on the edges. That does not directly address the absolutely undemocratic nature of policing as it exists in the United States, a policing system that is at its core designed to contain and terrorize and subjugate at every possible level the Black American population. That is the purpose of the mass Black incarceration state, although it has economic aspects in terms of making profits from prisons. But the central purpose is to contain and terrorize Black folks. And with that kind of mission, the tinkering around with reform measures, although useful but avoiding the central demand of Black community control of the police who patrol the Black community, will be ineffective in dismantling that whole structure.

As such, the Green Party can and should utilize this shortcoming within the Democratic Party policy agenda to their advantage and link the articulation of a Green New Deal with the radical emancipatory liberation struggle of the working class that is prison abolition and Black community control of the police.

At this current moment, we know that the majority of Black workers are employed by the public sector and that Black women make up the largest membership demographic of the AFL-CIO. As such, the Green New Deal proposed by the GPUS should aim to fulfill the promise to create a “Marshall Plan for the Cities” that has been a longtime aspiration in Black political discourse. The Green Party proposes a paradigm that will be focused on public infrastructure and works projects, something that is therefore able to be synoptic with the Marshall Plan for the Cities framework.

Ford explains that the Marshall Plan for the Cities, first proposed by Rep. John Conyers, “Became a perennial Black Democrat rallying cry and others in Black civil society. We heard it every year, in fact it got kind of boring and hollow. It was basically an economic and social policy that was directed at the folks in the cities (and that meant Black folks) who had been bypassed by all of these redevelopment schemes of the American post-World War II world, which seemed to be developing everything in the nation except Black people. That’s the way it looked to Black people in the cities which they inherited from white folks after white flight and those cities were immediately de-invested. And so that was the rallying cry every political cycle.”

“What was noteworthy was that, with the advent of the first US Black President, even the possibilityof one during the 2008 campaign, we stopped hearing about a Marshall Plan for the Cities. In fact, we didn’t hear anything from Black Democrats who were afraid, frankly, to make any demands on this incoming and then incumbent Black president because those demands, the mere utterance of them, might tend to embarrass or put too much pressure on this Black president. We saw the neutralization of Black Democratic politics and Black politics in general with the coming of Obama a great silence, great realhollowness of Black politics,” Ford continues.

In James Forman, Jr.’s recent Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, one aspect of the Marshall Plan for the Cities policy proposal was a combining of the promised urban revitalization policy package with racist Tough on Crime legislation. “That book, Locking Up Our Own, is indispensable and I found it so interesting and, in fact, it made me do some soul searching myself because much of the book is centered on Washington DC in the ’70s and ’80s and that is where I was based and I knew most of the actors who he talked about,” continues Ford. “I was somewhat embarrassed that I had not seen these ‘Lock Up Our Own’ precursors to the full-blown mass Black incarceration state, that is some of these proposals coming straight out of the Black community! I didn’t remember history that way and I’m still questioning what kind of reporter I was back then,” says Ford.

“But it is interesting that the Congressional Black Caucus’s ‘Marshall Plan for Black America’ has a Division B, which is focused on criminal justice and policing reform,” Ford continues.

“We can’t expect anything but a replay of what James Forman, Jr. was recounting from the ’70s and ’80s in terms of Black Democratic proposals in the criminal justice arena. We know what the recent history of the Congressional Black Caucus has been in that regard. In 2014, when there was a chance, a bill came up in the House that would have abolished the infamous Pentagon 1033 program, which funneled millions and it turned into billions of dollars worth of weapons and gear, full battle gear and weaponry, into the cities. Thatis the militarization of the police,” he says.

“In 2014, 80%, 4 out of every 5 Congressional Black Caucus members voted not to shut down the 1033 program but to continue it,” he continues. “This year, we saw a bill come before the House that 75% of the Congressional Black Caucus voted for that made police into a protected class! Now here we have the police, the group in US society that has the most institutionalized, legalized impunity now becoming a protected class as if they are somehow a class that is endangered.”

“So we know the political character is of the Congressional Black Caucus today regarding policing and mass Black incarceration and that’s part of their bill for a Marshall Plan for Black America. So I am sure James Forman is taking note of the latest iteration of that political tendency.”

Part 2: January 16, 2019

Legislators in Washington are currently proposing a Democratic Green New Deal (hereafter DGND) project that continues to implement neoliberal policy, including anti-union measures and fiscal benefits for the 1%. (cf. Corporations See a Different Kind of “Green” in Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” by Whitney Webb, 12/18/18, Mint Press News) This would most likely include either quasi-privatization of infrastructure, known in popular press discourse as public-private partnerships, or outright privatization, passed off in public relations as a fair exchange of infrastructure ownership for installation and maintenance of renewable energy implements and devices, such as solar panels or windmills.

It also appears that the DGND includes within its framework further weakening of labor union and worker protections. Whitney Webb writes “Another indication that there is nothing ‘progressive’ about the Ocasio-Cortez-backed plan is the fact that it is stocked with neoliberal buzzwords that are catnip to modern-day American robber-barons. For instance, the plan states that it must ‘include additional measures such as basic income programs, universal health care programs and any others as the select committee may deem appropriate to promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism…’ [emphasis added] The term ‘labor market flexibility’ is a neoliberal buzzword that disguises a corporation’s ability to hire and fire at will as an exercise in ‘flexibility’ as opposed to an exercise of corporate power. As Investopedia notes, ‘A flexible labor market is one where firms are under fewer regulations regarding the labor force and can, therefore, set wages, fire employees at will and change their work hours.’”

This is another opening for the Green Party to take advantage of. Right now, the pseudo-alternative press outlets that function as auxiliaries and free public relations agents of the Democratic Party’s Progressive caucus, from Vox to Jacobin Magazine to The Nation, are promoting a multi-media meta-narrative that articulates an argument for a Popular Front with the Democratic Party to oust Donald Trump in 2020.

While there certainly are undeniable and painful aspects to the Trump administration that have fascistic features, one element missing from all of these social democratic venues and reporters/analysts is a true socio-political diagnosis of fascism as a symptom and outgrowth of austerity policies. This is probably because austerity has been most successfully and brutally promoted in the past decade by the political candidates these social democratic venues have regularly and unfailingly endorsed. The Democrats willfully enable the growth of fascist political trends with financial policies that incubate white nationalism within the public over an immiseration that has a very real material basis. This immiseration is borne out in metrics regarding suicides, birth rates, substance abuse rates (most notably being the opioid epidemic), and the precarity of finances that demonstrate many are living paycheck-to-paycheck and are one major accident away from bankruptcy. While this loss of quality of life does not mean that so-called whites are in any way close to facing the kinds of struggles that African Americans and Indigenous people deal with, it does demonstrate that the ‘wages of whiteness,’ as W.E.B. Du Bois explained white privilege, are coming up short and no longer delivering in the fashion they once did.

As such, Greens can argue their form of the Green New Deal is intended to present the preliminary coordinates for a program of reparations and restorative justice while actively and constructively opposing the turn towards chauvinism with meaningful employment. I would here emphasize the point first raised by Du Bois and later articulated by projects like the Combahee River Collective, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression,” and later Partrisse Cullors of #BlackLivesMatter as “If Black people get free, everybody else gets free.” In other words, a symptom of reparations and restorative justice for Blacks and Indigenous is an end to the material hardship of not just those two groups but also other nationalities and so-called whites.

As a contrasting example, I would point to the self-destructive 1968 New York City teachers union strike, led by Albert Shanker and abetted by many longtime Socialist Party members, including Michael Harrington, A. Phillip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Tom Kahn, and Max Shachtman. Stanley Aronowitz writes in The Death and Life of American Labor:

One of Shanker’s major actions as local president had been to call teachers out on strike in 1968 to oppose three community-controlled school boards, in Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant, and the Lower East Side, that had attempted to exercise jurisdiction over the assignment of teachers. Shanker and his colleagues preferred to deal with the central Board of Education rather than with the black and Latino leaders of these newly created local boards. The union succeeded in crippling community control over education for the next forty-five years.

Shanker and his Socialist comrades caused the controlled demolition of Gotham’s historic Black-Jewish alliance. In that episode, white supremacy made a short-term and long-term impact. In the short-term, it further polarized the relationship between faculty and student body, fomenting antagonism between the two. In the long-term, it provided American capital the opening necessary to begin the implementation of neoliberal education deform policies, something that will ultimately be the ruin of the public school teaching profession, a unionized career that is predominantly composed of white membership. The ultimate lesson of the 1968 teachers strike is that white supremacy is not just harmful to people of color, it ultimately proves to be harmful poison to the well-being of those who perpetrate white supremacy and maintain its social standing. Or, to borrow wording from Aimé Césaire classic polemic Discourse on Colonialism, “colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism.”

Eco-socialism and the Green New Deal with an intersectional anti-imperialist framework have the capacity and ability to articulate that our efforts are to increase the material well-being of absolutely everyone and not to socialize poverty by reducing the material well-being of some to benefit others.

The DGND, by contrast, in fact does seek to socialize poverty by utilizing progressive slogans to promote more neoliberal austerity.

The Green Party seeks in this effort to de-commodify and entirely eliminate the market that exists for renewable energy by making it part of the public commons. Projects like cooperative electricity systems that were created in the southeast during the first New Deal provide a template for such projects, as do contemporary public wireless internet networks in government buildings like libraries. In the latter instance, public library wi-fi is integrated into the wider operational structure and budget of the facilities, meaning users can log on for no cost and with no obligations besides basic user agreements. The model of currently existing wi-fi held in the commons is a wonderful example for a Green New Deal to follow for rolling out renewable energy infrastructural improvements.

Part 3: January 17, 2019

The Green Party should seek, within the policy initiatives of the Green New Deal, to strengthen worker rights. As Whitney Webb writes in Corporations See a Different Kind of “Green” in Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” the Democratic Green New Deal (hereafter DGND) actually contains within its policy proposals further neoliberal assaults on worker rights and austerity measures, both of which have fostered the growth of white nationalism historically in American politics.

Along with Improved Single Payer Medicare for All, the Green Party states they would also pass the Employee Free Choice Act, otherwise known as “card check,” which makes union organization easier. They should furthermore repeal the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 while amending the 1926 Railway Labor Act so to return the right to strike to railway and airline workers. The Green Party goal is to guarantee a living wage job for every American willing and able to work. To do this, the national party would establish a full employment program that will create 25 million jobs by implementing a nationally funded, locally controlled employment initiative. This would also include measures to create fair trade treaties and strengthen workplace safety laws. Job training would be in combination with a guaranteed tuition-free public college education and granting of student debt forgiveness. They would reform tax codes and laws to assure fair taxation, distributed in proportion to one’s ability to pay. And finally, we would provide all Americans with decent, accessible, affordable, and sustainable housing and democratically run, publicly owned, not-for-profit utilities

Another distinction is the role of anti-imperialism within the coordinates of the Green New Deal. The DGND makes no reference to de-linking the American dollar’s value from the Saudi Arabian oil barrel’s price on the international exchange market. Unless a serious effort is made to disconnect the link between the dollar and Saudi oil, otherwise stated as eliminating the petrodollar, it is fundamentally against the best interests of the American government to engage in any sort of project that would reduce the worldwide value of Saudi oil. American capitalism since the termination of the Bretton Woods system during the Nixon administration has been one that only can be maintained by the perpetuation of a fossil fuels-based economic system. Sustainable energy policy from Democratic Party that does not take on this issue will not take on what actually drives climate change.

Furthermore, owing to the precarious nature of the House of Saud’s grip on that country’s government, American foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia has always been extremely militarist and imperialist. From the start of the Cold War, when Saudi Arabia and Israel were positioned in the region as two poles that would oppose secular Arab nationalism, to contemporary times, with the ongoing genocidal war on Yemen and the jingoistic bipartisan saber-rattling towards Iran, the House of Saud has exchanged the security of American oil supplies for allowance of the most reactionary type of absolute monarchism on earth. Saudi Wahhabism has been a fundamentalist current promoting anti-Black racism, misogyny, trans/homo/bi-phobia, and feudal judicial practices across the Islamic world. The Saudis have been a key player in American imperial policy across Asia and Africa.

These coordinates can inform the preliminary coordinates for a long-term and coordinated program of international reparations between the Global North and South. For five centuries, the North has maintained white supremacist hegemony at the expense of the South. It is incumbent upon activists at the heart of empire to struggle so to dismantle the imperial project piece by piece in a fashion that is cognizant of the ecological cost of the system. The Pentagon is the world’s largest carbon polluter and is exempt from the major climate treaties. The South currently faces tremendous hardship and losses caused by climate catastrophes that the North created with their over-dependence and over-use of greenhouse gas-based energy systems. A truly just Green New Deal must address itself to the reparations towards the Global South and make its aims international in scope. For in the totality of things, climate catastrophe does not stop at borders and lines drawn on a map, instead its storms are the international onslaught that must unite people of all nations in a coordinated and robust opposition.

Unless the DGND includes an internationalist intersectional feminist principle of anti-imperialism, one which reverses the system of worldwide alliances that emerged at the end of World War II, very little will be changed in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. It is simply a matter of what is in the best interests of the American political economy as it now exists.

A second distinction is the emphasis on the role of self-determination and national liberation. It is the longtime view of the Green Party that the multiple peoples of color within the United States should have their human rights respected as defined by international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ajamu Baraka, the 2016 Green Party vice presidential nominee and national organizer with the Black Alliance for Peace, writes:

…I argue that if human rights are to have any incredibility, any “universal” applicability, any value, they must be seized from the barbaric grip of Europeans and de-colonized. The cognitive dysfunctionality of the white supremacist consciousness renders Europeans infected with this malady unable to “see” the contradictory history of liberal thought from the Enlightenment to the contemporary period that continues to stratify human beings and human civilizations and cultures. The assumed superiority of Western cultures and peoples are not even a point of contention. Its material development, the wonders of its science, the variety of its consumer goods are all testimonies to its innate superiority. The problem is that all of this is based on lies. As Franz Fanon reminded us, Europe is a creation of Colonialism… We must embrace and exercise the black radical human rights tradition and its subsequent expression in what I call “People(s)-Centered Human Rights (PCHRs). People(s)-Centered Human Rights (PCHR) are those non-oppressive rights that reflect the highest commitment to universal human dignity and social justice that individuals and collectives define and secure for themselves through social struggle. This is the Black Radical Tradition’s approach to human rights. It is an approach that views human rights as an arena of struggle that, when grounded and informed by the needs and aspirations of the oppressed, becomes part of a unified comprehensive strategy for de-colonization and radical social change. The feature that distinguishes the people-centered framework from all of the prevailing schools of human rights theory and practice is that it is based on an explicit understanding that to realize the full range of the still developing human rights idea requires: 1) an epistemological break with a human rights orthodoxy grounded in Euro-centric liberalism; 2) a reconceptualization of human rights from the standpoint of oppressed groups; 3) a restructuring of prevailing social relationships that perpetuate oppression; and 4) the acquiring of power on the part of the oppressed to bring about that restructuring.

A Green New Deal must create conditions that grant peoples of color self-determination in their communities, recalling the words of the Combahee River Collective, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” It must allow for these communities of color to define and develop on their own terms and accord the structures of self-government by which they desire to live and thrive. In practical terms, this means a proactive embrace of police and prison abolition, meaning eliminating from the list of possible construction projects police stations and barracks, jails, prisons, and other elements to the police-prison industrial complex. As part of this logic, it must also end the school-to-prison pipeline by eliminating from federal, state, and municipal budgets funding for police presence in schools, the criminalization of Black/Brown youth, and increased surveillance on students. It must instead re-deploy these budget line-items to pay for increased counseling staff, instruction of teachers in restorative justice practices. Furthermore, teacher training must be reformulated and redesigned so to address white supremacy and racism within the profession and remove that poison from the workplace.

A useful proposition to consider for integration into the Green New Deal is the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)-endorsed Community Schools model. The AFT designates as Seven Principles of Community Schools:

1) Community schools provide more than one type of service to students and the community. Better yet, the services are unique to each school and community, and will most likely change over time as the needs of your student and family population changes. Examples of these services could include:

-Academic services like tutoring, community-based learning and other enrichment activities;

-Medical services like primary, vision, dental and nutritional services;

-Mental health services like counseling and psychiatrists; and

-Adult education classes.

2) Community schools better support and enable a strong, academic curriculum. Strong ties with the community lead to more partnerships and programs outside the classroom, which in turn can be utilized to directly support instruction and empower students to learn. Examples include project-based learning and service learning activities.

3) Partnerships are coordinated and purposeful. The community school infrastructure enables the coordination and integration of programs that enrich and support learning and instruction while meeting the needs of students, families and the community.

4) Community schools share a vision and mission and are results-driven. Everyone involved—community partners, families, school staff and administration—shares responsibility for accountability and continuous improvement. The results are not just focused on academics, but also include the non-school-related outcomes.

5) A site resource coordinator makes sure that all of the service and community providers are working together, focusing on the same set of results to ensure that students are getting the service most attuned to their needs. The coordinators are the glue and the anchor for the community school. They have strong relationships with school staff, parents, administrators and the community.

6) Community schools work with students but also engage families and communities. When families and community members are a part of the process of planning and implementing a community school, they begin to have a deeper investment and ownership in the success of their own children and the school community.

7) Effective community schools are governed at the local level, and decisions are made by consulting with all stakeholders, including teachers and other school staff. Teachers and school staff are often the best acquainted with students and their particular needs, so your input on the local site decision-making team (local governing team, etc.) is invaluable.

This also would require that a Green New Deal eliminate funding of charter schools and efforts that support further school privatization, such as high-stakes testing and Race to the Top programs. We should seek to strengthen and expand the commons in the public domain rather than weaken and eventually privatize them.

In his magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America, W.E.B. Du Bois places as the cornerstone of the text, for ideological, literary, and political reasons, the Black worker, naming the opening chapter after that laborer. Du Bois was not writing just a heterodox Marxian account of a contentious postbellum moment in American history. Through careful framing and formulation, he positions Radical Reconstruction and particularly that aspect led by Black workers as a proletarian revolution equivalent to the events seen in Russia in 1917. The destruction of the revolutionary current was caused by the white nationalist Ku Klux Klan, aided by the reactionary presidency of Andrew Johnson, and wrought another 150 years of terror for workers of all skin pigmentations.

It is my opinion that any system change that the Green Party proposes should therefore follow the Du Boisian schematic and be premised on the Black and Brown workers as those leading the way to liberation, otherwise we are all doomed to not just repeat the dire mistakes of the first New Deal but also create something that simply will be inadequate in addressing climate change.

Andrew Stewart is a documentary film maker and reporter who lives outside Providence.  His film, AARON BRIGGS AND THE HMS GASPEE, about the historical role of Brown University in the slave trade, is available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video or on DVD.

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