Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Affirmative Activist: Interview with Carl Dix by Golden Gater Online (1996)

Editor's Note: This interview with Carl was done by Clint Page Henderson, and published on Golden Gater Online, February 22, 1996.

Carl Dix is a national spokesperson of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He's on a speaking tour as part of Black History Month and was invited to several Bay area schools to speak about affirmative action. He was at SF State last week.

Dix has been an activist since the '50s and '60s and served two years in prison for refusing orders to fight in Vietnam. Dix helped found the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1975. He has published numerous articles including "Thoughts on the Color Purple" in Alice Walker's new book, "The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult."

Dix answered questions in a phone interview last weekend:

Golden Gater: Why a tour? What are you trying to accomplish?

Carl Dix: What we tried to do is to bring out to the students what it was like before the civil rights movement. How what forced the government's hand wasn't realized because they knew it was the right thing to do, but that the masses wanted it. How that relates to the situation today, still today.

Professions are still predominantly white. Discrimination is still in effect today. Students need to resist today like they did in the 1960s - through fierce, determined mass struggle.

GG: Do you think people are involved today? Do they care about affirmative action and its possible demise?

Dix: I was heartened by the response to our tour. We were going into classrooms. We were invited in. After every speech there was active discussion and debate. In every class we got student leaders who wanted to hear more.

The overthrow of this capitalist system is what is needed to solve the problems. I think revolution is the solution. Politicians are part of the problem. Students wanted to get involved in doing something. If you want to get involved with the revolutionary approach, get involved with us. But you have to find the approach that's right for you. There's a need to link the problems together - affirmative action, immigrants, and cuts in social programs. The tour got a very good response, we got the names of 30 or 40 students who wanted to get involved.

GG: You've said that our political system is not working. Why?

Dix: The capitalist system feeds on and reproduces the inequality we deal with - keeping its profit prospective with massive downsizing. Throwing people out of work is enhancing the income of the stockholders. Improving profit by putting people out of work. Divide and conquer. They say the problem is immigrants, people on welfare, or affirmative action. The system uses it to set people against each other. People need to fight against (the system) together. I was around when we got affirmative action. Those gains are being snatched back.

GG: Many say that affirmative action has done its job, that things are equal now, or that it's not fair. How do you respond?

Dix: They're not facing the actual situation. Ninety-seven percent of corporate managers are white men. Two percent are white women with only 0.4 percent Latin and less than 1 percent black. What's behind that? We have continued residential segregation with inner-cities largely poor and black. Remedial education is being cut. For a lot of students it's not the fault of the students, it's the fault of the educational system. Students want to go to college. This society can't say there's no need for affirmative action.

Pete Wilson did not raise the question of qualifications when he went to law school and blacks were not allowed in.

GG: Do you feel that people are making a concerted effort to keep people of color out of schools?

Dix: It's more than an accident. Not everyone is consciously trying to discriminate, but what's required is a conscious effort not to.

GG: What is required to change things? What do you think students should do?

Dix: First off, response has to be now. People have to continue to fight to prevent ending of UC programs, to oppose the Civil Rights Initiative, to prevent the state system from scrapping remedial education, and to engage and involve other students. Take to the streets with mass demonstrations.

People want to see equality. Opponents of affirmative action are spreading misinformation. There needs to be a fight made now to bring greater equality.