Category: Struggle for African American equality
The disease killing white Americans goes way deeper than opioids


March 24

In rich countries, death rates are supposed to decline. But in the past decade and a half, middle-aged white Americans have actually been dying faster. Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton first pointed out this disturbing trend in a 2015 study that highlighted three “diseases of despair”: drugs, drinking and suicide.

On Thursday, the pair released a deeper analysis that clears up one of the biggest misconceptions about their earlier research.

The problem of dying whites can’t only be blamed on rising rates of drug overdoses, suicides and chronic alcoholism, they say. More and more, middle-aged white Americans are dying for all kinds of reasons — and the underlying issue may have less to do with opioids and more to do with how society has left behind the working class.

“Ultimately, we see our story as about the collapse of the white, high school educated, working class after its heyday in the 1970s, and the pathologies that accompany that decline,” they write.

On the streets of Chillicothe, Ohio: ‘Shooting heroin is like drinking beer’

Chillicothe, Ohio is grappling with an addiction epidemic driven by opioids like heroin. But some here aren’t letting overdoses rule. (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)
Chillicothe, Ohio is grappling with an addiction epidemic driven by opioids like heroin. But some here aren’t letting overdoses rule. On the streets of Chillicothe, Ohio, the fight against an opioid addiction epidemic means police work. And high school students taking to those streets. (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

This is slightly different than what they said in their first paper, where they emphasized that the trend of rising white mortality was “largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis.” That’s technically correct — but by focusing only on the increase in death rates, Case and Deaton distracted from the larger picture.

The alarming fact isn’t just that middle-aged whites are dying faster, but also that mortality rates have been dramatically declining in nearly every other rich country. The United States is getting left behind.

In the last 15 years, a chasm opened up between middle aged whites in America and citizens of European countries like France, Germany and the United Kingdom. While white death rates in America rose slightly, death rates in those other countries continued to plummet. In comparison to what happened in Europe, the situation for American whites starts looks much more dire — and it’s a bigger problem than opioids or suicides can explain. It’s not just about what went wrong in America, but what stopped going right.

Fifteen years ago, middle-aged whites in the United States were neck and neck with their German counterparts. Now, middle-aged white Americans are 45 percent more likely to die than middle-aged Germans.

As Case and Deaton show, the gap in mortality between white middle-aged Americans and middle-aged Germans is about 125 deaths per 100,000 people now. Every year, of 100,000 Germans between the ages of 45 and 54, about 285 die. In the United States, it’s more than 410.

Out of those 125 additional American deaths, only about 40 might be explained by the spike in deadly drug use, drinking and suicides. And the rest? It’s hard to say. In their latest paper, Case and Deaton say that heart disease is part of the problem. While other countries have cut down heart disease deaths by over 40 percent in the past 15 years, heart disease remains a significant killer for white middle-aged Americans.

There’s still much left unexplained, but the latest data tell a larger — and more troubling — story. Most of the increase in white deaths is concentrated among those who never finished college. These are the same people who have been pummeled by the economy in recent decades. It’s gotten more difficult for them to find jobs, and what jobs they do come across nowadays don’t pay as well.

Yet, it’s not entirely a matter of income either. Some of these same economic trends — driven by globalization and automation — afflicted countries like the U.K. and Germany, where the death rate has been dropping. Besides, according to a Washington Post analysis of recent Census Bureau data, white American men without a college degree still earn 36 percent more than their black counterparts. But the death rate among less-educated black Americans has actually been decreasing. In recent years, the two groups have converged — they are dying at about the same rate — even though white Americans still earn more.

So the theory comes back to despair. Case and Deaton believe that white Americans may be suffering from a lack of hope. The pain in their bodies might reflect a “spiritual” pain caused by “cumulative distress, and the failure of life to turn out as expected.” If they’re right, then the problem will be much harder to solve. Politicians can pass laws to keep opioids out of people’s hands or require insurers to cover mental health costs, but they can’t turn back the clock to 1955.

Upcoming Actions on March 24, March 25, and May 1
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Houston Communist Party, Houston Socialist Movement, Latinos Inmigrantes Triunfadores, MORENA-Houston SE, Organizacion Latino Americano Pro-Derecho Del Inmigrante, and Party for Socialism and Liberation are organizing three important actions during the next several weeks.
On Friday, March 24, from 11 am until 2 pm, we will be demonstrating against Governor Greg Abbott while he speaks to the Greater Houston Partnership at the Hilton Americas Hotel, 1600 Lamar Street. Greater Houston Democrats are also planning to protest against Abbott, so discussions about developing a unified action are under way.
On Saturday, March 25, beginning at 11 am, we will have a counter-protest against the pro-Trump Houston MAGA March scheduled at City Hall, 901 Bagby St. Some Trump supporters may be armed, but this will not stop us from standing up against exploitation, white supremacy, anti-immigrant hysteria, misogyny, anti-LGBT bigotry, and the threat of Fascism.
On Monday, May 1, from 5:30 pm until 8 pm, there will be an International Workers Day/Dia Sin Inmigrantes Rally held at a City Park. This action will combine the traditional celebration of May Day by workers of all nationalities with a special focus on solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters. An event page with the location and details for this event will be posted soon.
If your organization would like to support these actions, or if you would like more information, please call 832.692.2306 or 713.447.4106. We look forward to your participation in these events.
In Solidarity,


African-Americans more likely to be wrongfully convicted than whites, study finds

African-Americans more likely to be wrongfully convicted than whites, study finds
African-Americans are more likely to be wrongfully convicted of crimes including murder, sexual assault, and illegal drug activities than whites, according to a new study. The research blamed a number of factors, including racial bias and official misconduct.

The study from the National Registry of Exonerations examined cases from 1989 to October 2016, finding that 47 percent of the 1,900 defendants convicted of crimes and later exonerated were African-Americans – a figure which is three times their representation in the population.

The research also found that African-Americans were about seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than whites.

“African Americans imprisoned for murder are more likely to be innocent if they were convicted of killing white victims,” the study noted.

Study author Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan Law School professor, noted that official misconduct was rampant in homicide cases involving African-Americans.

“In the murder cases we examined, the rate of official misconduct is considerably higher in cases where the defendant is African-American compared to cases where the defendant is white,” Gross said, as quoted by Reuters.

He went on to state that unconscious bias, institutional discrimination, and explicit racism were also factors in some of the wrongful convictions.

The study noted that most wrongful convictions are never discovered, but that “judging from exonerations, half of those innocent murder defendants are African-Americans.”

When it comes to sexual assaults, the study found that 59 percent of exonerees were African-Americans – representing four-and-a-half times their proportion in the population.

“In half of all sexual assault exonerations with eyewitness misidentifications, black men were convicted of raping white women, a racial combination that appears in less than 11 percent of sexual assaults in the United States,” the study noted.

It went on to state that black defendants convicted of raping white women are about eight times more likely to be innocent than white men convicted of raping their own race.

African-Americans were also found to be about 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted in drug crimes than innocent white people.

The study comes as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign continues throughout the US, following numerous protests last year and allegations of police brutality towards African-Americans.

New Orleans can remove Confederate monuments, court rules

New Orleans can remove Confederate monuments, court rules
Authorities in New Orleans have every right to take down monuments to Confederate leaders, a federal court has ruled, dismissing claims by historic preservation societies. The push to remove the monuments followed the 2015 Charleston church shooting.

Sons of Confederate Veterans, Monumental Task Committee, Louisiana Landmarks Society and the Foundation for Historical Louisiana argued that removing the monuments would cause irreparable harm and that the land they were located on may not be city property.

The three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that both claims “wholly lack legal viability or support,” according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The groups “have also failed to show that any irreparable harm to the monuments – even assuming such evidence – would constitute harm,” the court said.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu pushed for the removal of the monuments in 2015, dubbing them “nuisances” in the aftermath of the racially-inspired mass shooting at the Charleston Emanuel AME church.

The city is now free to request bids for removal of the monuments to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard. Another monument, commemorating a white uprising against the Reconstruction government, will remain standing pending unrelated litigation. The Battle of Liberty Place monument was previously moved as part of a federal transportation project.

“This win today will allow us to begin to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future,” Landrieu said. “Moving the location of these monuments – from prominent public places in our city where they are revered to a place where they can be remembered – changes only their geography, not our history.”

The mayor hailed the court’s ruling as affirming “the city’s ability to control its property” and said the monuments will be preserved at a city warehouse until an appropriate place for them can be found.

Activists pushing for the monuments’ removal were likewise pleased with the verdict.

“This is a huge teachable moment for the nation to learn about the dangers of white supremacy,” Michael Quess Moore, founding member of Take Em Down NOLA, told AP.

The Monumental Task Committee and the Louisiana Landmarks Commission said they were considering requesting an en banc hearing from the 5th Circuit, in which all 14 judges would be asked to reconsider the panel’s verdict.

“Despite this setback, the non-profit organizations that filed the original suit will continue to argue that all the City’s historic monuments and cultural sites should be preserved and protected, and that a more appropriate response to calls for the monuments’ removal is a program to include explanatory plaques and markers to present these individuals in the context of their time,” the organizations said in a statement, quoted by the Times-Picayune.

Louisiana was one of the 11 states that seceded in 1861, protesting the election of Abraham Lincoln and vowing to preserve the institution of slavery in the Confederate States of America. New Orleans, the Confederacy’s second-largest city, was captured by Union troops in 1862 and remained under military occupation until the war’s end in 1865.

While Beauregard was born in New Orleans, Lee never visited the city. Jefferson Davis, the first – and last – president of the Confederacy, died in New Orleans in 1889.

International Women’s Day and the Trump regime

by James Thompson

In memory of Bernadette Steward


The International Women’s Day (IWD) has a glorious history and this article will compare and contrast this important holiday with President Trump’s attitude towards women.

First, here is the history. Wikipedia notes that the first Women’s Day observance was held on Fairbury 28, 1909, in New York. “It was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union.”

Clara Zetkin made the proposal for the IWD at the International Women’s Conference which preceded the Second International in Copenhagen in August, 1910. It was originally called International Working Women’s Day.

In his introduction to the book Clara Zetkin: Selected Writings, Philip S. Foner wrote “March 8 each year would be celebrated in all countries as international women’s day and would be organized chiefly around the demand for women’s suffrage. The date March 8 was chosen because of an event that had occurred on that day in the United States. Under the leadership of women workers in the New York City needle trades, a number of whom were socialists, a women’s demonstration was called on Sunday, March 8, 1908. Hundreds gathered in Rutgers Square in the heart of Manhattan’s lower East side to demand the vote and to urge the building of a powerful needle trades’ union. So successful was the 1908 demonstration that it came to the attention of socialist women abroad and Clara Zetkin, who had learned of it, made the motion at Copenhagen that the day of the demonstration of American working women become an International Women’s Day and that March 8 each year be dedicated to fighting for equal rights for all women in all countries. Her proposal was accepted by the majority of the delegates and the following year, 1911, the first International Women’s Day took place.” (pp. 31-32)

Zetkin wrote about IWD, “In agreement with the class-conscious, political and trade union organizations of the proletariat of their respective countries, the Socialist women of all countries will hold each year a Women’s Day, whose foremost purpose it must be to aid the attainment of women’s suffrage. This demand must be handled in conjunction with the entire women’s question according to Socialist precepts. The Women’s Day must have an international character and is to be prepared carefully.” (p. 108)Zetkin_luxemburg1910









The Great Soviet Encyclopedia wrote about the IWD “The USSR and other socialist states celebrate International Women’s Day to mobilize women who have been liberated from the social yoke and have received equal rights with men for active work in all areas of economic, sociopolitical, and cultural life. On this day women in socialist countries review their participation in communist and socialist construction. In nonsocialist countries, International Women’s Day is observed as a day of struggle for the rights of women and for social progress within the state’s specific conditions and situation. Women in all countries hold March 8 as a day of solidarity with the struggle for peace.” (15, p. 76).

In 1975, the United Nations declared March 8 to be their International Women’s Day.


Let us fast-forward over 100 years to 2017. It is appalling that this holiday is not widely recognized in the United States. We must remember that over 17 million women live in poverty in the United States. Over 600,000 women and girls are trafficked internationally each year. 70% of women internationally report that they are subjected to physical and sexual violence. 


And then there is this new President of the United States (POTUS) named Donald Trump. He ran a campaign which featured sexist rhetoric as well as racism, xenophobia and other extreme right wing tactics. He has been quoted repeatedly as referring to women in demeaning language. He has a history of calling women pigs, slobs, and has made disgusting comments about women’s physical appearance. At the same time, he has been the first POTUS to publicly refer to his own penis as well as women’s genitals.

Although he is extremely early in his administration, he has made a number of proposals which if enacted would greatly affect women in the United States as well as in many other countries.

He has proposed harsh immigration policies which potentially could be devastating to immigrant women. His policies could prove devastating to families in the United States as well as around the world. When immigrant families are detained in this country, it is standard procedure for their children to be separated from them and placed in the care of Children’s Protective Service. This means that mothers, fathers and children are separated forever since the parents are typically deported.

There is a new proposal that would separate mothers and children if they are caught trying to cross the border. Again, the children would become wards of the state while their parents would be deported.

There is a current push to privatize Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans’ benefits. If enacted, this would result in diminishing the social safety network and would be particularly devastating to women and children.

There is a current push to reduce public education. This has resulted in and will result in further devastation of communities and will have an extremely harmful impact on women and children.

The continuation and expansion of the government policies of mass incarceration have been devastating to communities and families. Men, particularly African-American men, are the most likely to be incarcerated. However, their absence leaves a void which is difficult to fill so that stable families can be formed and maintained.

The rightward political swing has resulted in and will result in a further downward swing of communities and women and children will bear the brunt of this.

On the other hand, it must be recognized that Pres. Trump’s opposition to war with Russia and China is positive. War with Russia and China would be catastrophic to the women in the United States as well as every other living creature on earth. We can all be cremated equally. 


As usual, the dismantling of the social safety network will impact African-American communities, and most especially women and children, most harshly.

How will working women respond to this multifaceted crisis which has been created by unbridled capitalism? Is it acceptable in the United States for progressive gains to be ripped away with a few strokes of the pen by a misogynistic POTUS? Do we want a society which celebrates the accomplishments, achievements and contributions of women or do we want a society which denigrates women?

Working men and women must unite to fight for their rights or face a society drifting downward into anarchistic chaos.


James Thompson is the chairperson of the Houston Communist Party.

Bernadette Steward was an officer of the Houston Communist Party. She was an activist in Houston and fought for women’s rights and was involved in the struggle for African-American equality. She died on Easter Sunday, 2014 after a long struggle with amyloidosis.





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