The corporate news media is obsessed with the “tea party” dominating the Republicans. This conservative movement does not attract many young people and actually seems restricted to the white, wealthier, and older base of the Republican Party, although it does try to speak to the concerns of working people under the Great Recession.

In fact, the tea party and the capitalist forces that back it hope to use fear to attack the historic victories of workers, such as Social Security. One of the most important of their “divide-and-conquer” tactics, both historically and now, is racism. Whether it takes the form of passing SB 1070 in Arizona or denouncing social spending as “redistribution” to attack an African-American in the White House, the name of their game is to scare white workers into aligning themselves with the rich.

They hope to convince people that their enemies are racial minorities who have even less, not those who have everything.

It is important to understand what this means for young people, and the perspective that Marxism offers in these times. The role that racist trickery plays in the class war is one that is different for youth today than it was for those who grew up when shameless segregation dominated large sections of the country. Today’s youth have grown up witnessing many of the fruits of the Civil Rights movement, including the election of Obama.

Today, the right wing has to be subtle when it speaks to the population about race. For example, they often hide their racism behind anti-Communism, in the style of Glenn Beck, or more artfully focus on broad economic polices, like so much of the intellectual foundation of the tea party does.

Although the struggle against racial oppression continues and takes new forms, the right-wing insists that racism is dead because Obama is President (despite millions of people of color who live under disproportionate poverty). The right wing frames class issues as traditional-morals ones, and say that we should hope for “color blindness,” simply ignoring the racial divide generated by hundreds of years of the most extreme oppression imaginable.

Will our generation fall for such lies? Maybe, without our active participation in struggles that unite people. Yet there is also a strong basis for hope. Our generation is the most multi-racial in American history. We are heirs to the noblest resistance against big money’s tyranny over the racially and nationally oppressed. According to recent polling, our generation is increasingly open to Socialist ideas. The true question is not of our limitations, but of the endless possibility that youth offers.

– Michael Ladson, Young Communist League