Once again, the meaning of Independence Day in the United States is clear. The freedom we are told the Pentagon sends troops around the world to protect (which is a load of bullshit anyway) is again revealed to be mostly for men, especially white-skinned ones. Yeah, there are those women who will celebrate just as hard as the five men on the Supremacist Court will this 4th of July, but it’s the aforementioned men who will be raising their glasses the highest. In their toasts, they will note that women are finally being returned to their proper place; as handmaidens of their Lord Almighty and servants of the patriarchy. How dare they have the right to decide whether or not to bear children. Next thing you know, they’re wanting to be presidents and priests.
There’s a part of me that finds it almost impossible to believe that we are back to this situation in 2022, fifty years after the woman’s right to choose was decided. I remember reading jill johnston’s fascinating essays and the ads in the Village Voice placed by doctors providing abortion services when I lived in the Bronx in 1973 and 1974. However, when I look around the nation and recall its history since the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down, I’m actually more surprised it took so long to overturn it. After all, the return to the white capitalist paradise that was partially undone in the 1960s and early 1970s was already well underway by 1982, ten years after Roe v. Wade. Ronald Reagan and his band of troglodytes were making certain of that. They were setting the stage for the future to come. On top of that, there really weren’t too many laws protecting LGBTQ people on the books back then. By the end of the decade, Reagan and his crew of corrupt crackers were intentionally letting gay men die, as they denied and even fought the reality of the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Ronnie didn’t care. His god was on his side.
In the past couple years, some companies and public agencies have begun to address systemic racism in the United States. These efforts came as a result of the summer of protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Like virtually every other effort along these lines, the seminars, workshops and discussions such efforts feature leave out the most important aspect of this racism—the economic element. In other words, they address the racism, the history of racism and the nature of racism. However, they don’t tell the participants that this nation’s economic development was founded in the kidnapping, trading and breeding of Black Africans and their descendants. Slaves were not just work animals, they were actual collateral, with a cash value that enabled slaveowners to get mortgages, begin businesses, and conduct trade in goods they produced. It was not only the slavers (owners, traders, etc.) that made a profit from this trade. Banks in the north and the south of the United States accumulated wealth because of the business of slavery. By not acknowledging this essential economic foundation, we can pretend that US capitalism can eradicate white supremacy. In a similar manner, we can also pretend that it can eradicate an even older oppression—the oppression of women.
The fact that this aspect of US white supremacy is not discussed in most current anti-racist pedagogy in the ruling class’s fight against the proles’ freedom means that those freedoms are never secure, no matter how hard they are fought for and no matter what laws are made to protect them. This fact is understood by the authors of the court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. In a particularly ironic turn of events, the opinion written by the only Black judge (Clarence Thomas) on the court understands this the best. His opinion calls for a re-examination of many rights only recently expanded: gay marriage and the right to contraception foremost among them. Some of Thomas’ friends in various legislatures seem to have gone even further in their challenges to any rights granted by the courts under the Fourteenth Amendment. Indeed, they are discussing challenging judicial decisions that overturned legal segregation of the races. The US civil war is not over. Those who side with the system established by the slavers have been fighting a guerrilla war ever since that surrender at Appomattox. Whether they call it states rights or originalism and whether they fight it in legislatures, the courts or in the streets of DC, these champions of white supremacy believe it should return as the law of the land.
I said earlier that there is a part of me, however small, that can’t believe we are back to the days when women had no final say over their bodies under US federal law. This doesn’t mean I’m surprised about the recent turn of events. In part, because anyone with half a brain could see it coming. The question is: what the hell are we going to do about it?
One thing’s for sure, I won’t be flying any red, white and blue.