The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Working Class Divided

Feb 6, 2023

The first hundred migrants of an estimated 250, many of them asylum seekers from Venezuela, moved into the Wadsworth Elementary School shelter this week in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood.

Wadsworth Elementary was one of fifty schools closed in 2013 by mayor Rahm Emanuel, almost all in working class Black neighborhoods. The building was then left to rot for the last decade.

The Democratic politicians who lead cities like Chicago make a show of running “sanctuary cities,” providing a few resources to a few migrants for the cameras—while many other migrants sleep in bus stops or are otherwise left to fend for themselves. And so, the city spent 1.5 million to fix up this shuttered school.

There have been several protests against the shelter in the past few months with as many as a hundred people turning out. One longtime resident, now a candidate for alderman and organizer of a January rally against the migrants, said “The resources that they’re pouring into the building for the migrants, we don’t have those.... So, it’s unfair to say we’re going to provide all these resources for the immigrants, but we disregard the people that are already here.”

Woodlawn is a predominantly black, working class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Its average income is half of the city average, and its unemployment is double. The people who run Chicago have shown how little regard they have for the thousands of working class folks who live in Woodlawn and neighborhoods like it. So, those who point to a lack of resources for Black people who have lived in the neighborhood for generations, get a response.

Some politicians may benefit by pitting different parts of the working class against one another—in this case Black Chicagoans against Venezuelan immigrants.

But it serves no one to try to block the few crumbs handed to needy migrants. All sections of the working class are denied the services they need in this society because the wealth we produce is stolen by the capitalist class. This same capitalist class exploits workers in Chicago and uses our tax money to build up the U.S. military and squeeze countries like Venezuela. So in fact, whatever motions politicians make to pit workers against each other, the Black population of Woodlawn and the migrants fleeing the poverty of Venezuela have the same enemies.

It may seem difficult, but workers can find the ways to unite in their common interests, against their common enemies. Together, they could be a force to be reckoned with.