Socialism is the Best Medicine

Socialism is the Best Medicine

Tookie Was Right. They Want You to Blame Yourself

November 8, 2006


The labor movement has a slogan, an injury to one is an injury to all. Capitalism has a different slogan, it’s all your fault. Blaming the victim protects the system, especially when victims blame themselves.

Injured workers suffer massive victim-blaming. One injured worker told me that she hates it when people ask her what she’s doing. She feels ashamed to admit that she is living on disability benefits. She thinks that being unable to work makes her a loser. She does not call her employer a loser for creating unsafe working conditions. She blames herself, even though she knows the injury was not her fault.

During the1960s and 1970s, injured workers organized to fight for benefits, access to treatment, and safer work. The shame of being injured gave way to anger at the criminal negligence of employers and the doctors and politicians who back them. Similarly, the Black freedom struggle transformed the stigma of racial oppression into Black Pride, and the gay liberation movement transformed the stigma of homosexuality into Gay Pride. We must return to these principles.

An injury to one is an injury to all. When anyone is harmed, we all suffer. Blaming ourselves for being oppressed, unemployed, overworked, poor, sick, injured, or needy, enables the system that causes these problems to continue hurting people.

In his book Blue Rage, Black Redemption (2007), Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams explains that he became a feared gang leader because of deameaning racist stereotypes of Black men. When he realized that his gang activities were terrorizing other Black people and being used to justify a racist penal system, he spent the rest of his life urging young people to stay out of gangs and stand together as advocates and champions for their people. Williams was nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-gang activism. As he stated,

“Instead of our killing each other, that energy can be harnessed to oppose poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, discrimination and other social and judiciary injustices.”

The State of California executed Williams in order to silence his message of solidarity. The greatest fear of all rulers is that ordinary people will stop blaming themselves and stand together against their oppressors.



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