Say It Loud! is a must-have book for all socialists, anti-racists and anti-fascists.
In the first chapter the book offers a Marxist analysis of where racism comes from and how and why it is sustained by the ruling classes. This is crucial to the fight against racism and is a point returned to in the final chapter.
The book presents different arguments that have surfaced in the past and are currently re-emerging around racism today, such as black nationalism in various forms, identity politics and privilege theory. These are all discussed and we can see how different analyses lead to very different strategies being put forward to tackle racism.
One of the book's greatest strengths is its analysis of a number of key events. For example, when reading about both the racial and class elements of the August 2011 riots, I felt again the pride that I felt at the time to be a member of the SWP, a party which stood out in defence of the rioters and never sought to condemn them when they were being attacked on all fronts, as the book clearly details.
The book also examines the changing nature of racism, starting with its roots in the transatlantic slave trade and showing how racism has been targeted at black, Asian, Irish and Jewish people at different times over the centuries. It also includes a very important analysis of the rise of Islamophobia - the most blatant and "acceptable" form of racism today - showing it is not a new phenomenon that started with 9/11 but had already been on the rise for over two decades before the attacks.
Say It Loud! not only contains the essential Marxist analysis of racism and its many forms but also (as its subtitle "Marxism and the Fight Against Racism" suggests) documents the fightback against racism. In doing this the book not only deals with political theories but shows concrete examples of how these theories can be applied to the fightback - looking at past struggles and pointing out the things that have proved to work as well as the things that haven't and demonstrating the value of a Marxist approach. The book shows people resisting and fighting racism from the slave revolts all the way to the movement today - covering in great detail pivotal moments in the long history of the fight against racism, especially in the chapters devoted to the Stephen Lawrence campaign and the American Civil Rights movements which both contain arguments that are still relevant today.
The history of the anti-fascist movement is also examined closely in a chapter which looks at the growing threat of fascism across Europe. Weyman Bennett argues that, far from Britain just being less susceptible to fascism as some claim, there is a subjective reason why Britain appears to be an exception - we have a long history of strong anti-fascist movements. The chapter also has some very useful tables of figures that show the objective circumstances of Britain are not that different from many other European countries where fascist groups are much stronger. It is inspiring to read about the many successful battles we have won over the years thanks to the key strategy of the united front, the importance of which is particularly underlined by the book.
I found the photos in the middle of the book particularly moving as they visually illustrate the fight against racism and fascism with images of workers and activists striking, protesting and battling fascists on the streets that show that in the fight against racism, we are standing on the shoulders of generations who have carried the fight before us.
Another strength of the book is the way it demonstrates how both racism and anti-racism permeate and influence culture. So resistance to racism and colonialism was battled out in sport - in cricket by the West Indies team who gathered many supporters from the African diaspora across the world as they beat teams from the former colonialist countries and by the great champion Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring. Even in rap music, which contains so much offensive material, we can see how artists are raging against the racist system, as the example of some of Tupac Shakur's earlier tracks demonstrates. These sections along with other references to what is seen as "black culture" add another very relevant dimension to the book and its scrutiny of racism.
Say It Loud! arms the reader so well for the arguments that socialists and anti-racists face today (and will continue to face for years to come until we achieve real liberation) that one could consider it an anti-racist handbook for socialists.
Say it Loud! Marxism and the Fight Against Racism £9.99
by Brian Richardson (ed)
Published/Distributed by Bookmarks.