From the archives: The negro worker falls into line.

By Robert H. Hardoen

In accord with the historic tendency of a wide-spread group sentiment to crystallize into organized effort, it has long been expected that the general discontent among the American colored people would sooner or later express itself through militant bodies with the broad general object of emancipation by any or all of the means that other peoples have always employed to rid themselves of oppression.

The great danger attendant upon all the movements for group emancipation is that they may become purely nationalistic or racial in their aspects, rather than built along lines that take into consideration the economic foundations of society. This, as every class conscious worker knows, accounts for the strange anomaly that so many workers (most of them in the craft unions and some few in industrial unions too) have never lost their nationalistic tendencies, as witness the Polish workers who loaded ammunition for Wrangel, and that strange creature whom we encounter now and then, the Zionist radical.

Two points explain this anomaly: first, all of us have been thinking as races and nations for a hundred centuries, and only a very few are beginning to think as workers; secondly, the well known campaign of the capitalistic class to assiduously cultivate every line of working class division possible, which just now during the present economic crisis is being kindled into a fury of veritable nationalistic madness never known before, evidenced by anti-English, anti-Japanese, anti-Catholic, anti-foreigner, anti-Negro, anti-Russian, anti-Jew and especially anti-everything that portends social change.

Out of this pandemonium of shrieking, clawing class war, with its variegated false and real issues, from “white supremacy” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the miner’s insurrection in West Virginia, have emerged three distinct types of Negro sentiment and lines of action. The oldest of these is represented by the National Association for the Advancement of colored People. This is an organization comprised of Negro scholars and business men, together with quite a number of white journalists, liberals, philanthropists, etc. The official organ of the association is The Crisis, of which Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois is the editor. Its activities are confined largely to awakening a wide-spread sympathy for the Negro’s problem. A well managed publicity bureau endeavors to investigate lynchings, riots, etc., and carries on a ceaseless campaign against Jim Crowism, and all legislation aimed at depriving the Negro of his rights as a citizen. Further than this, the Association does not attempt to go.

By far the greatest Negro organization in the world is the Universal Negro Improvement Association, at the head of which stands a full-blooded Negro publicist of the British West Indies, named Marcus Garvey. The aim of this society organized only three years ago and now numbering two million members is a free Africa. They have adopted a flag and racial emblem comprised of red, black and green stripes, running parallel. A steamship line, made up of six vessels, all named for colored writers or poets, and called the Black Star Line is already plying between New York, Liberia, Jamaica and the northern coast of South America.

Approached with a discussion of the class struggle, the members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association insist that no mere change of social structure can be expected to eradicate a century-old race hatred overnight in America and points to that almost solid wall of opposition which the Southland offers to every progressive idea, and Garvey himself, while recognizing that the race question is basically economic, maintains that an ethical superstition forms another important factor that no possible rearrangement of society can eliminate, not even education, that is conventional education, for educated folk and educators are often prejudiced.

Of course the flaw in this reasoning is not that they seek a free Africa; all peoples desiring freedom should have it and no one can dispute Mr. Garvey’s reasoning that racial antipathy will, like every element of human consciousness, live somewhat longer than the conditions that gave rise to it and have kept it alive. But just as the decapitated serpent without its head must die and the engine that has exhausted its fuel must stop, just so the race problem bereft of its economic basis must vanish from American life.

The same danger lies hidden in the Garvey movement that is to be found in the Sinn Fein movement or the Zionist movement, namely, that in fleeing the claws of a lion in the form of foreign capitalists they may rush pell mell into the jaws of a tiger in the form of capitalists of their own group.

The third division of Negro sentiment, and by far the most prominent of all so far as vision and perspective of the true nature of their problem is concerned, is represented by a rapidly growing group who call themselves the “New Negro,” in contradistinction to the black man with the vestigial slave psychology, whom they contemptuously designate as an “Uncle Tom” or an “Old Negro.” This “new Negro” is at once the most interesting as well as the most intelligent of colored folk. The type is that of the awakening millions of toilers of the changing world, done in blacks and browns. The leading mouthpiece of this section of the race is the Messenger, a magazine published in New York City by two young Negro socialists, A. Chandler Owen and Philip Randolph who, in spite of the fact that they have gone far in putting the economic question before their people, have, nevertheless, all the shortcomings of political socialists of every race the world over.

A smaller but more dynamic force among the colored radicals is the Crusader, official organ of the African Blood Brotherhood, edited by a militant, class conscious man named Cyril Briggs. The African Blood Brotherhood is an organization that was originally formed to protect the race from armed attacks by its enemies and to prevent lynching, in accord with the world-old law of self defense. The Brotherhood educates its members in the class struggle and at the same time functions as a underground answer to the Ku Klux Klan. Their motto is, “Better a thousand race riots than a single lynching!”

Lest anyone think that this is only race-consciousness, we hasten to append the following from their manifesto issued at the last convention held in New York City, August 1921. “Negroes of the World, the day the European workers rise in armed insurrection against the capitalist exploiters of black and white toilers, we must see to it that Negro troops are not available as ‘White Guards’ to crush the rising power of the workers’ revolution! On that day, Negro comrades, the cause of the white workers will be the cause of the black workers, the cause of a free Africa, the cause of a Europe freed from capitalist control.”

In no organization is the colored worker made to feel more welcome or given a better chance than in the Industrial Workers of the World. Throughout the West and Southwest as well as the docks of Pennsylvania ports such as Philadelphia, great headway has been made in lining up the colored worker. The I.W.W. tolerates no race lines, plays no politics, discriminates against no groups because of color or creed. The program is industrial organization of all the workers of a given industry into job or city branches which, in turn, are part of the One Big Union built to fight the battles of the present and so organized that at the collapse of the dilapidated old structure of capitalism the workers may assume control of industry and administer it to serve the needs of humanity and not for profit as at present.

In this program lies the greatest hope for the solution of the Negro problem, which is in reality only a special phase of the international labor problem. That this is the case cannot be disputed by any black man who will but reflect that wherever colored people live in small numbers as in France or Canada or New England, no race problem exists, but as soon as black men come in sufficient numbers to become a factor in the labor market, the race problem appears.

In conclusion, let us note this “New Negro” has completely exploded the ancient fallacious doctrine of Booker T. Washington, by showing their people, through practical demonstration, that merely getting educated, learning a trade, going into a profession or becoming a petty bourgeoisie would not solve the race problem, but on the contrary it only intensifies it. They do not hesitate to show their brethren that if the young colored medical graduate takes the patients of the white physician, the white man will not love him for it, but on the contrary is likely to join the Ku Klux Klan; that the white tradesman and white business man will hate him for taking away “their” job or patronage as long as the present competitive system stands.

They point out the folly of Du Bois’ continual petitioning of Congress to pass an anti-lynching bill which must result in allowing the spirit of revolt to grow among the cotton workers and so curtail the profits of the Southern planter.
They point to the economic roots of the World War that centered around colonies, most of which lay in Africa, and try to tell the Garveyite that without the Social Revolution a few million poverty-stricken black men cannot hope to establish a free Africa with the combined armies of the whole capitalistic world waiting to crush them.

Indeed, this “New Negro” is a force to be reckoned with in the class struggle. Already he is causing those that have used him so long as a strike breaker many a sleepless night, and the authorities are steadily “investigating.”

The writer who is one of them wishes to say to our white fellow workers: “Move over, fellow workers, move over. We’re coming in. We’ve heard that the water’s fine!”

Originally printed in “Industrial Pioneer”, October 1921. This essay is also included in Peter Cole’s book “Ben Fletcher – the life and times of a black wobbly”, 2007, Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company.

Left to right: Robert H. Hardoen, Margaret W. Hardoen, Ernest Powell, Martha Anne Hardoen Powell
Left to right: Robert H. Hardoen (1895-1958), Margaret W. Hardoen (1896-1989), Ernest Lee Powell (1925-1986), Martha Anne Hardoen Powell (1928-1991)
Robert Hammond Hardoen
Robert Hammond Hardoen
Margaret Watkins Hardoen
Margaret Watkins Hardoen
Clara Watkins
Clara Watkins
Clara and Margaret's Graduation Class - The Illinois College of Chiropody
Clara and Margaret’s Graduation Class – The Illinois College of Chiropody

Robert H. Hardoen (1895 – 1958) was a black research chemist with several patents to his name (Electronic rectifier (US 1815909 A), Protective Coating and Process of Producing Same (US 002812298), and Rustproof material and process (US 2275223 A)). He spoke several languages, and was – in his youth – an activist for industrial worker rights and the rights of Negro workers. He was married to Margaret W. Hardoen (1896 – 1989) who (in addition to her sister Clara Watkins, 1893-1962) was one of the first black chiropodists in the USA. Robert H. Hardoen and Margaret W. Hardoen are my beloved grandparents.

Good essay by an openly-lesbian politician: Bryt lydmuren med kunsten / Break the sound barrier with art, by Anette Trettebergstuen (Norway).


Bryt lydmuren med kunsten, skrevet av Anette Trettebergstuen

Det å leve med HIV/Aids blir formidlet svært ensidig. Med skremsel, sorg og som noe som ekskluderer en fra selve livet.
Det er ikke sant. Man dør ikke av Aids, man dør med Aids. Og
i mellomtiden lever personer med HIV/Aids like forskjellige, mangfoldige, gode og dårlige liv som alle andre. Men HIV-­‐positive møter en risiko de fleste av oss aldri trenger frykte: det å bli ekskludert på grunn av fordommer mot sykdommen du lever med. Både i den offentlige og i den private sfæren. HIV-­‐positive må oppleve å bli satt i samme bås. Som dødssyke. Farlige. De opplever å måtte “være” sykdommen.
Bære dens navn som et mellomnavn sammen med sitt eget. “Den HIV-­‐ positive”.

Kunnskapen om HIV/Aids er fortsatt forsvinnende dårlig. Et stort forskningsprosjekt fra 2009 viste oss at svært mange tror viruset spres ved deling av tannbørste, eller ved å sitte på samme toalettskål. En for stor andel nordmenn svarte at de verken ønsker at en HIV-­‐positiv passer ungene deres eller det å ha en HIV-­‐positiv side ved side på samme arbeidsplass. Med middelaldersk kunnskap om smitte er det ikke rart fordommene gror videre. Av fordommer vokser det igjen stigma og aktiv og passiv diskriminering. Fra enkeltpersoner og myndigheter. Tilfeldig og systematisk. HIV-­‐positive nektes for eksempel innreise til en rekke stater. Kun fordi de er smittet. Resultatet av slik lovgivning er intet annet enn at folk fortsetter å reise, men uten medisiner, og velger bort åpenheten om diagnosen. Lovgivning basert på gamle og foreldede holdninger og kunnskap skaper ikke, men tvert imot hindrer, det FN peker på som det viktigste virkemiddelet i kampen mot smitten: åpenheten.
Norsk lovverk skaper også slike hindre.

HIV-­‐positives sexliv er fortsatt i realiteten kriminalisert i Norge. I 2013. Akkurat det er noe av det flaueste i norsk politikk, men enda verre: den såkalte HIV-­‐paragrafen i straffeloven er en av de direkte årsakene til at åpenheten taper, og at arbeidet mot smitte går trått. Men svært få vet. Og enda færre gjør opprør. Og lovene består.

Å leve livet igjennom med diagnosen blir derfor for svært mange ikke bare en vanskelig, men en hemmelig reise. Åpenhet koster for mye for mange. Koster venner, koster arbeid, koster familie, koster deltagelse i fellesskapet.

Samtidig bidrar nettopp fortellingene om hvor mye det koster, og hvor lite folk vet, fortellingene om alt de HIV-­‐positive risikerer selv til å gjøre livet vanskeligere, til å båssette, og stigmatisere. Ingen er like. Alle har forskjellige historier, og liv. Gode og dårlige. Med eller uten HIV/Aids.
Fordommenes verste fiende er kunnskap. Kunnskapen om det å leve med HIV/Aids må formidles mindre ensformig enn i dag.

Det er et stort behov for flere stemmer i debatten. For andre vinklinger, andre formidlingsformer. Som kan bryte lydmuren oftere! Slik at HIV/Aids-­‐ saken får den oppmerksomhet den fortjener i den offentlige debatten. Slik at flere kan forstå, lære, og kjenne hva dette handler om. Slik at politikere kan ta de rette valgene, basert på kunnskap og ikke ubegrunnet redsel.
Kunsten og kulturen som formidler av kunnskap åpner nye øyne, og den åpner øyne på nye måter. Fortellinger om det å leve med HIV/Aids trenger vi flere av. Som viser mangfoldet, oppturene, nedturene, de gode og de dårlige livene.

HIV/Aids formidles i dag mest med statistikk. Med tall. På smittede. Som går opp.
Jeg vil at det å leve med HIV/Aids skal formidles oftere gjennom kunsten. Lyrikken. For å åpne flere øyne, øke kunnskap, skape nærhet. Adams måte å bruke kunsten som middel til opplysning er nok en gang virkningsfullt, vakkert og svært kjærkomment.

Anette Trettebergstuen Stortingsrepresentant Arbeiderpartiet Oslo, Norge


Break the sound barrier with art, written by Anette Trettebergstuen.

Information about living with HIV / AIDS is transmitted in a very one-sided way. With horror, grief, and as something that excludes one from life itself.
That is not true. One dies not from AIDS, one dies with AIDS. And in the meantime, the lives of persons living with HIV / AIDS are as different, as diverse, as good and bad as those of everyone else. But HIV – positive persons encounter a risk most of us never need to fear: to be excluded because of prejudice against the disease they live with. In both the public and the private sphere. HIV – positive persons are all put in the same box. As terminally ill. As dangerous persons. They thus feel the need to “be” the disease.
And carry its name as a middle name, together with one’s own. “The HIV-positive –“.

Knowledge about HIV / AIDS is still astonishingly poor. A large research study from 2009 showed us that many believe that the virus is spread by sharing toothbrushes, or by sitting on the same toilet bowl. A large percentage of Norwegians responded that they neither want an HIV – positive person to babysit or to have an HIV – positive person as a work colleague. With medieval knowledge regarding modes of infection, it is not strange that prejudices continue to grow. As prejudices grow, so do stigma and both active and passive discrimination. From individuals and governments. Randomly and systematically. HIV – positive persons are denied entry into a number of countries. Solely on the basis of infection. The result of such legislation is nothing more than that people continue to travel, but without medication, and avoid openness about their diagnosis. Legislation based upon old and outdated attitudes and knowledge does not create openness, but is rather a hinder, while the UN points out that the most important tool in the fight against infection is – in fact – openness.
Norwegian legislation also creates such obstacles.
HIV – positive persons’ sex lives are, in effect, still criminalized in Norway. In 2013. And that is one of the most embarrassing things in Norwegian politics, but even worse, the so-called HIV – article in the Criminal Code is one of the direct reasons for loss of openness, and that efforts to prevent infection go slowly. But very few people know. And even fewer rebel. And the laws still exist.

To live a life with this diagnosis is therefore not only difficult for many persons, but it is also a secret journey. Openness costs too much for many. Costs related to friends, to work, family, and participation in the community.
At the same time, stories about how much it costs, stories about how little people know, and stories about how much HIV – positive persons risk can also make life difficult, and can also contribute to classification and stigmatizing. No two persons are alike. We all have different stories and lives. Good and bad. With or without HIV / AIDS.

The worst enemy of prejudice is knowledge. The knowledge of how to live with HIV / AIDS needs to be conveyed in a less monotonous way than it is today.
There is a great need for more voices in the debate. For other angles, other forms of communication. Ones that can break the sound barrier more often! This so that the HIV/AIDS issue can get the attention it deserves in the public debate. This so that more people can understand, learn, and know what this is all about. This so politicians can make the right choices based upon knowledge rather than upon unfounded fears.
Art and culture that conveys knowledge opens new eyes, and opens eyes in new ways. We need more stories about living with HIV / AIDS. We need more stories that show the diversity, the ups, the downs, the good and the bad lives.
HIV / AIDS is today mostly illustrated with statistics. With numbers. Of infection. On the rise.

I wish that stories about living with HIV / AIDS be communicated more frequently through art. Through poetry. This in order to open more eyes, to increase knowledge, to create intimacy. Adam’s way of using art as a means to enlightenment is once again powerful, beautiful and most welcome.

Anette Trettebergstuen, Member of Parliament – Labour Party, Oslo, Norway.

(translated by editor)

(This essay is part of my new poetry book “JISEI — death poems and daily reflections by a person with AIDS”)

Read excerpts from the book HERE!

Adam Donaldson Powell: Essays on activism for a shift of consciousness


Bryt lydmuren med kunsten, skrevet av Anette Trettebergstuen

Det å leve med HIV/Aids blir formidlet svært ensidig. Med skremsel, sorg og som noe som ekskluderer en fra selve livet.
Det er ikke sant. Man dør ikke av Aids, man dør med Aids. Og
i mellomtiden lever personer med HIV/Aids like forskjellige, mangfoldige, gode og dårlige liv som alle andre. Men HIV-­‐positive møter en risiko de fleste av oss aldri trenger frykte: det å bli ekskludert på grunn av fordommer mot sykdommen du lever med. Både i den offentlige og i den private sfæren. HIV-­‐positive må oppleve å bli satt i samme bås. Som dødssyke. Farlige. De opplever å måtte “være” sykdommen.
Bære dens navn som et mellomnavn sammen med sitt eget. “Den HIV-­‐ positive”.

Kunnskapen om HIV/Aids er fortsatt forsvinnende dårlig. Et stort forskningsprosjekt fra 2009 viste oss at svært mange tror viruset spres ved deling av tannbørste, eller ved…

View original post 1,215 more words

Shout-out to Per Eidspjeld: artist and aids activist.

In Norway, a National Commission has been considering legal reforms regarding prosecution for HIV exposure or transmission. The recent report from this Commission has fallen short of the goals set by Norwegian AIDS activists in their longterm fight to stop criminalization of transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus, and would – in the opinion of myself and many fellow activists – possibly rather serve to increase transmission because it could reduce openness amongst persons with the virus and scare others from testing themselves. The international reactions speak for themselves: we need to decriminalize, and not criminalize people living with the HIV/AIDS virus.

We need broad national debate before we move to implement a new law and penal code in Norway that would only serve to further stigma and fear. Such implementation is – in my opinion – a BIG step in the wrong direction. I also firmly believe that it would send a dangerous message to the world, and especially to homophobic countries that are looking to Norway and UNAIDS for political guidance. As a pathfinder in regards to equalization of human and civil rights for the LGBT community, Norway now risks blemishing much of the good it has done by sending a mixed message and creating possible conflict of interest, which can be difficult to come to reason with.

Persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs), friends and supporters of PLWHAs, gays, heterosexuals, politicians and human and civil rights activists alike need to work to counteract and void this law and any new law proposal aimed at criminalizing persons living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B., and hepatitis C, and which is also against UNAIDS recommendations.

People need to wake up! Together we can gain better control over the further spreading of HIV/AIDS, and initiate greater healing, equality and humanity in our society. Criminalization is clearly not the way to achieve this.

For more information about this read HERE and HERE.

Please share…

– Per Eidspjeld, Norway, international AIDS activist and visual artist.


(photo courtesy of Per Eidspjeld)


as well as the following Norwegian presentation of some of his work: