A letter from New Haven

Reader’s corner

I was born in Alabama. My father, who wanted better opportunities for our family, was recruited by Winchester, the rifle manufacturer, to come to New Haven and work. And many other African Americans from the South went to different locations seeking better opportunities for themselves.

I was very young at the time, but I realize now, through the stories that my father told me, the racism he faced coming from the South to the North. Some people told him to go back down South. But through determination and the help of people who saw through the racism and came to his rescue and helped protect him, he stayed and raised his family.

But now, in our times, we continue to face this dreadful racism that still lurks at our doors. Why do people say it’s racism? Because that is exactly what it is: we are judging people by the color of their skin and not their character.

People come to America the same as African Americans came up from the South to the North, for a better opportunity. Who we really should be angry at, and join forces together with our brothers and sisters to fight, is the corporations and the Bush administration. These corporations pollute the Mexican land, and make the Mexican people work like slave labor. It’s happening to other countries too.

In China, the unions are now standing up to these large corporations who have gone over there to exploit them. The labor laws have been changed there, and now this should open up doors for workers in the United States and China to build strong international solidarity.

When we can educate more people, that’s when a victory will come. The immigrants are not taking our jobs. They are working at minimum wage, at backbreaking jobs, in hopes of a better tomorrow. Big corporations and the Bush administration are trying to divide workers. The only way we can have equality is by everyone coming together, joining forces.

The race card has been used for so long. It’s time now to stop. These are difficult times. Even with decent jobs, people are having a hard time making ends meet. What we must build in our society is solidarity with all workers in the world. Some unions started this years ago, educating their members on how to make this the world that we dream about.

When I worked at Circuit Wise in North Haven, Conn., we had workers from all different countries around the world. How did we win anything? By understanding that we are human beings and want exactly the same things. We united and we fought the boss and we won. This is the lesson that many of my co-workers will never forget. Through the education of the union, United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 299, they understood what solidarity for all workers meant.

No one was born with racism. Through the years people are taught this dreadful disease. But people can be untaught and put on the right path to justice for all.

Here in New Haven, we are also hoping that more African American ministers will preach and teach about our immigrant brothers and sisters and help give people knowledge and common sense.

We are going to stand strong in the struggle with the immigrants. We are going to march, we are going to protect them, and we are going to have a voice for them.

Dorothy Johnson is the former president of UE Local 299