The New Yorker took a bit of a break from the media’s project of advocating a total leftist takeover of America to run, “A Black Communist’s Disappearance in Stalin’s Russia”. While any exposure of Communist oppression is welcome, the article is billed as, “What happened to Lovett Fort-Whiteman, the only known African American to die in the Gulag?”
Known would be the key word. Many of the black Americans who came to the Soviet Union either as sympathizers or just for training and income did not fare very well.
Robert Robinson, one of the survivors wrote in his autobiography, “Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union”, that, “Every single black I knew in the early 1930s who became a Soviet citizen disappeared from Moscow within seven years. The fortunate ones were exiled to Siberian labor camps. Those less fortunate were shot.”
The New Yorker article paints an imaginary picture of a non-racist USSR. Robinson’s autobiography and more contemporary accounts expose that as a dangerous myth.
Black on Red is worth reading overall (if you can find a copy), but here’s another excerpt from the opening puncturing that silly myth.
“After many, many years I came to understand the Russian mind. I learned the Byzantine workings of the Soviet system, and I disciplined myself not to slip up. I can honestly say that I don’t believe I ever allowed myself a careless moment. I lived in the Soviet Union for seven years before I first won the trust of a single Russian. During all my years there, although I had many friends, I never dared to trust anyone. There were eighteen units in my apartment building, each one containing two or three families. There were informers throughout the complex, spying on Robert Robinson; watching, listening, and then reporting my every move and every sound, every day of every year. No matter what my Russian neighbors told me, regardless of how much Communist officials bragged about their system of social justice and the equality of people, I was never really accepted as an equal. I was valued for my professional abilities; nevertheless I was an oddity and a potential asset to the Soviet propaganda apparatus. I somehow adapted to all of this, even to a life without marrying, with no woman by my side warming my bed and no children at home to hug me and call me, “Daddy”.
“I dealt with all of this, and I learned to deal with almost everything else, with one big exception. I could never, ever get used to the racism in the Soviet Union. It continually tested my patience and assaulted my sense of self-worth. Because the Russians pride themselves on being free of prejudice, their racism is more virulent than any I encountered in the United States as a young man.”
“I wrote this book because I feel deeply that the way a black person was treated in a society that is supposed to be free of racial prejudice is a story that should be told. For forty-four years I observed the Russians and their political system, not as a white idealist but as a black man who had been well trained by racism in America to judge the sincerity of a person’s words and deeds. I can say as an expert that one of the greatest myths ever launched by the Kremlin’s propaganda apparatus is that Soviet society is free of racism. This message has been hammered home both to the Russian people and abroad. The fact is that all non-Russians are considered inferior. On the unofficial scale of inferiority, the Armenians, Georgians, and Ukrainians are more acceptable than other non-Russians. The eastern Soviet citizens—those with yellow skin and almond-shaped eyes—are considered to be at the bottom of society. They think of blacks as even worse.”