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

Culture Corner:
Reservation Dogs and Indignant Heart, Testimony of a Black American Worker

Oct 2, 2023

TV Show: Reservation Dogs, 2021—2023, streaming on Hulu

The TV show Reservation Dogs just ended with the conclusion of its third season. It is the first and only show in which all directors, writers, and series regular actors are Indigenous. It is based on the actual town of Holdenville, Oklahoma. The show appeared to be a comedy about four Native American teenagers, but it was quickly revealed as an intergenerational narrative of life, loss, and healing in rural America on the reservation. The episodes dealt with suicide, aging, drug use, friendship, societal abuse, racism, and more. It showed the healing power of generations and of community when they come together and together seek to find the way forward.

Book: Indignant Heart, Testimony of a Black American Worker, by Charles Denby, 1978

This is an incredibly powerful book of a Black militant fighter in both the South where he grew up and later in the auto plants in Detroit. The first part of the book was published under a pseudonym in 1952, at the height of the repression of the McCarthy period. The second part was written later and describes his participation and/or observations of the social movements of his time. He was born in 1907, the son of sharecroppers in Alabama. He describes life in the oppressive South and how he and his community stood up to it.

He along with others moved north to the booming town of Detroit in the 1930s and 1940s. He describes in detail the brutal work in the plants, and his wife also describes her experiences. He was a natural organizer, outwitting over and over the company foremen or supervisors and the efforts of the Reutherite UAW to stop the organizing.

Wherever he went, he brought workers together, and together, they found a way to push back the company. He understood that an attack on one was an attack on all, and he demonstrated how fighting the division of racism benefitted all. He describes his experiences as a communist around the Communist Party USA and the Socialist Workers Party, the promise and the disappointments. He was a fighter wherever he went, and made the world a better place.