Often white (but not only white) “progressives” and “Marxists” will complain about how raising issues of racism or national oppression divert attention away from organizing people along class lines. How can the unity of the working class be achieved on an international level if we keep talking about racism and national oppression. There is a vulgar idealism at work here, the kind that imagines that because people think or talk about race, that’s why racism exists. “Gee, if all we did was stop thinking ourselves in terms of races, it would all go away,” or that racism and national oppression acquire a reality only on the level of discourse. This kind of view is just wrong.
When I talk about racism and class struggle I am not talking about the cute little things that a lot of us petty bourgeois racialized people like to talk about. We like to complain about white privilege as a cultural category alone, for instance. Like when white people wear blackface or wear geisha costumes. That shit is ignorant, but that is not even the primary problem of racism and class struggle. What’s more important is understanding the entire set of social relations that enable white people to even imagine thinking they can dress up as another race or culture. This is more insidious.