This interpretation also denies the real solidarity and support that the Soviet Union expressed in their assistance to liberation movements of many Black, brown and oppressed people all over the world.
Since anti-communist propaganda is easily promulgated without evidence in this country, allow me to present some of the evidence that exposes these racist lies for what they are.
The Soviet Union spanned 14 time zones and comprised many independent nationalities and ethnic groups, such as Tajiks, Kazakhs, Lithuanians, Tartars – all of whom spoke different languages, practiced different religions – and suffered terrible racist oppression under the Tsar.
The triumph of the socialist revolution and the very existence of this unique political formation was the result of a revolution carried out by united oppressed peoples, who rose up as one and took control of society away from their Tsarist and capitalist exploiters.
Of all the insults buried in that heinous Root article, the disrespect to Langston Hughes, inarguably one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, is one of the most difficult to endure.
Starr paints Hughes as a dupe, someone “recruited” to champion the Soviet Union, as if the man had not traveled all over the world, studied and written extensively and was not capable of genuinely supporting a government that he believed to be on the right track.
Starr erroneously attributes this casting to racism, saying that Hughes determined that the Soviets were so racist that they assumed that all Black people could sing and dance (and play sports?
) and so didn’t bother to check the backgrounds of the people they hired for the film. He addressed the peculiar composition of the delegation early in the chapter, stating, “That most of our group were not actors seems to have been due to the fact that very few professional theater people were willing to pay their own fares to travel all the way to Russia to sign contracts they had never seen.In one sentence, Starr describes the two as essentially the same (showing you the level of material historical analysis he’s interested in engaging in) and then for the rest of the article proceeds to whitewash the history of Black communism, using the favorite arguments deployed by racists – that Blacks who supported socialism did so because they were duped, and that the Soviet Union was only interested in Black liberation insofar as it meant spiting their enemies in the White House.These assertions deny the agency of African Americans, many of whom were amongst the most prominent Black intellectuals of their time, who looked to the Soviet system as an alternative to American racism and exploitation.But a recent entry in this canon of “Black activists are pawns of Moscow” writing is so insulting and patently false, that, as we approach the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it seems very important to reply.Last week an author named Terrell Jermaine Starr wrote a piece for The Root entitled, “Russia’s Recent Facebook Ads Prove the Kremlin Never Loved Black People.” I’ve enjoyed entries from The Root before, particularly in chronicling racist attacks against African Americans that are underreported in the mainstream media.To Black Americans, the most convincing example was the swiftness and seriousness with which the Soviets began redressing historical inequality suffered by the Jews, including immediately outlawing discrimination against them and putting an end to the violent pogroms that had plagued them under the Tsar. government had systematically ignored the pleas of Black people to pass even one federal law against lynching, when city and state governments all over the country were colluding in lynchings, race riots and allowing whites who attacked Blacks to go free, or even reap rewards – it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why many Black thinkers were genuinely excited that such a different kind of government, one that spoke to them and had taken action to support and defend its own national minorities, had come into the world.