The Nation - August 28, 2019
Teddy Ostrow: What is Black Socialists of America, and what are you hoping to achieve with it?
Z: Black Socialists of America is a network of anti-capitalist black Americans who are not just interested in building up a platform for black American leftists or getting the ideas of black American leftists out into popular dialogue; we’re also trying to push mass education in poor and working-class black and brown communities to dismantle capitalist relations and the capitalist state.
We’re not advocating for a black nation state, but we believe that black people need to be able to build in self-determination—in coalitions with people from other communities—to ensure that our particular needs and interests are met and that we have space to implement the various ideas, organizational structures, and approaches that we know best fit our communities.
TO: What does Black Socialists of America do on a day-to-day basis? What are the main activities and operations?
Z: What we want BSA to be as time goes on is essentially a national collective and network for black leftists who are trying to build on what we’re calling “dual power projects” and Cooperation Jackson. Some of their members are a part of our organization, and we’re formally partnered up with them. Their project—a federation of predominantly black-owned worker cooperatives based out of Jackson, Mississippi—is utilizing the tools of what we call the “solidarity economy movement” in order to build on this idea of economic democracy and community control. They’re doing it under an explicitly eco-socialist, anti-capitalist politics.
And so we want to catalyze the development of Cooperation Jacksons throughout the country, and we want to be able to support and connect these various initiatives.
TO: Why do you think poor and working-class communities of color need to mobilize with socialism as a guiding philosophy?
Z: There’s a lot of ways I can answer that question, but I want to start by quoting one of the first black socialists of America, who was a preacher by the name of George W. Woodbey. He has a quote, and mind you, he said this in 1909: “Negroes…are yet under the impression that the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few Negroes will solve this problem…notwithstanding the fact that a few white men have all the wealth and the rest of their brothers are getting poorer everyday.”
First and foremost we have to understand that we—poor and working-class black people—are in the position that we’re in because of capitalist relations and a capitalist logic in tandem with white supremacy and various other systems of oppression that we’ve been dealing with since chattel slavery. You can’t use exploitative methods to transcend a system of exploitation. ...
Read full interview at The Nation