Student campaigns to push democratic socialists further left

A student at Virginia Commonwealth University is running for Co-Chair of the Young Democratic Socialists of America on the platform that the organization is not socialist enough.

“YDSA’s silence on lynchings has not gone unnoticed. National’s inability to provide local chapters with meaningful resources is not ok. Our exclusive ‘in’ culture cannot continue,” VCU student Ulysses Carter declared in a tweet last week, adding that “This is why I’ve decided to run for National co-chair.”

The YDSA National Coordinating Committee has two “Co-Chairs” and four “at -large” members, all of whom are elected annually at the organization’s Summer Convention. The Committee oversees “activities, fundraising, publications, education, general political direction, and coalition work” of YDSA chapters nationwide.

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Carter’s Twitter bio notes that he is currently the vice chair of the VCU YDSA chapter, and also declares that “RVA POLICE MURDERED #MarcusPeters.”

The VCU student launched a website that further explains who he is and the future he sees for the YDSA organization at a national level, asserting that “as a white passing black man” he believes that in “our society being black places you squarely behind what DuBois coined ‘The Veil,’ knowing that blackness is something which casts you separately away from mainstream white society.”

“We cannot hope to achieve liberation and equality for all without addressing racism as the separate entity which it is,” Carter adds. “While capitalism may have created racism, racism has shown time and time again that it can and will propagate itself without the need of capitalism. We must be steadfast in our work of eradicating both.”

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Carter’s platform focuses on racial justice, classism, inclusivity, accessibility, and accountability, with an overarching emphasis on the need to “make a positive material change in the lives of poor and marginalized people” so that they can “participate in the revolution.”

“Individuals who are simply fighting every day to survive cannot take up the fight to achieve liberation,” he points out. “When the entirety of your energy is spent on making enough money to survive, to pay rent, to feed your children, to pay the bus fare, how can you expect them to then come out and organize?”

Accusing YDSA of paying “lipservice [sic] to racial justice,” Carter that while “capitalism creates racism and cannot function without it,” destroying capitalism will not eradicate racism, because racism “will continue to propagate itself, and by proxy, capitalism.”

He also claims that YDSA is guilty of the very “classism” that it purports to fight, claiming that socialist “meme culture” tends to appeal to “a certain demographic of middle class and higher white men.”

“Our organization needs to fundamentally change our culture from the cliquey, exclusionary social club it currently is to an inclusive organization which opens its arms to people from all walks of life, of all class, color, identity, and orientation,” Carter declares. “I believe that rather than simply having diversity mandates in our offices, we must actively work to elevate and prioritize the voices of our marginalized groups, particularly people of color. The dominating white culture in this organization will only prioritize itself and its goals, which will never match those of us people of color.”

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On the “About” page of his website, Carter notes that in just the first semester of the YDSA at VCU chapter’s existence, he was involved in campaigns opposing VCU’s Master Plan, which he claims is about “gentrifying he [sic] entirety of Richmond’s Broad Street,” and supporting the Adjuncts for Fair Pay movement, “in which professors fight working conditions and pay so inadequate some professors are homeless.”

He also notes that he coordinated a protest against “the tuition hike passed to pay for VCU’s real estate acquisitions” and “began work on his campus with William and Mary’s initiative to eliminate prison slave labor in Virginia.”

Campus Reform reached out to Carter, who declined to comment. YDSA has not yet provided a response.

Follow this author on Facebook: Zachary Thomas Petrizzo and Twitter: @Zach_Petrizzo