Your attempts to fix racism fail to produce real change– racism is institutionalized in various levels of capitalist modes of eduacation
Subotnik, J.D. (Juris Doctor) @ Columbia University School of Law, 98
(Dan, “What’s Wrong with Critical Race Theory?: Reopening the Case for Middle Class Values” Touro Law, 1/1/1998, pg 709-712, bit.ly/18wTRCk)//SGarg
CRT – Critical Race Theory
CRAT – Advocate of Critical Race Theory
We shall come back to the question of language. In the meantime, if we are to evaluate the message of multiculturalism in Peller's and Williams's work, we must look to our schools, for the schools have taken the message most closely to heart. In the name of inclusion, over the past ten years textbooks have been purged, demasculinized, and reconstructed. A wide array of new authors now grace reading lists. Ethnic holidays of all kinds are celebrated in the classroom. A more diverse group of teachers and administrators populate our urban schools than ever before. But what do schools have to show for their efforts? Have comfort levels and test scores for minorities gone up? 136 A recent video of life at Berkeley High School provides an instructive answer. Filmed during the 1993-94 school year, School Colors137 tells a story about one of the first high schools to voluntarily integrate, a school that today is 38 percent white, 35 percent African American, 11 percent Asian-Pacific Islander, 9 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent mixed race, a school that has an Afro-American Studies department that sponsors fifteen courses ranging from black economics to Swahili.'38 One cannot be sure of the extent to which the film accurately represents the school, or to which the school represents urban America, but to the extent that these are representative, School Colors gives its viewers pause about Williams's and Peller's prescriptions. Here are some vignettes from the video. A Hispanic student says it is an insult to be called an American. A black teacher tells his AfricanAmerican students that "America denotes the nation you live in... but the African part is your essence." 139 A Chinese-American boy is labeled "whitewashed" because he has white friends. A Hispanic girl breaks down when she is accused of betraying her group by dating a white boy. A white boy describes himself as "White, real white" and goes on to say he "likes to promote whiteness." 140 A Hispanic boy complains of the Greek statue overlooking the campus, while the narrator explains that owing to concerns about ethnocentrism, "Toga Day" is now "Ethnicity Day."141 These sentiments, as could be expected, are reflected in Berkeley High geography. A student, pointing, says, "This is Africa."'142 "That's Europe. I don't care to go over there. I stay here, maybe [at the] snack bar, something like that, but, that's about it."' 143 "Berkeley High is like the real world," says another. "And the real world is totally segregated. No such thing as integration when it comes to America. We all want to be with our own kind and that's the way humans are."'144 "I mean you come here and it's nothing in the middle; it's just black, white, Asian,” says a white girl. "[lt's really hard."'145 It is not surprising that several students complained about being attacked by members of other groups. To be sure, inter-ethnic harmony is not necessarily the highest social value. So we turn to the academic side; how are the kids doing? The answer is not reassuring. Eighty-five percent of the advanced placement kids, we learn, are white and Asian, while 85 percent of those in the lowest levels are black and Hispanic; in fact, the D and F rate for the latter groups is three times higher than for the former.14 6 This is not the place to discuss grading-or tracking. Our subject is what pursuing an authentic lifestyle might actually mean for young blacks-and for the rest of our community. Consider that in America today only a tiny fraction of our Ph.D.s in physics, astronomy, and mathematics are black. 147 If, as a result, science comes to be seen as a white thing, what will induce our brightest black students to enter these professions? 148 It is not only that to stay competitive we Americans need all the highly trained scientists we can get, but, to be brutally realistic, if minorities are not represented in the highest-prestige, highest-visibility occupations, what will counter the destructive conclusion that their absence stems not from lack of desire but from lack of ability? In short, can this country afford a definition of authenticity that amounts to a reification of the racial status quo? A drive for authenticity will come at no smaller cost in the humanities. Here is what Judge, a young black student at Berkeley High, has to say to Tiaye, who has just argued for the importance of knowing and using standard grammar: "Elijah Mohammed, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Huey Newton-they didn't speak what you wanna call functioning grammar-they, they function in this world. You ain't gotta speak the cracker language to live in a cracker world." 149 The accuracy of the premise aside, is this a conclusion that our students should be drawing in school? Is Judge on his way to Columbia Law School? Would even Williams want him as her student? Black economist Glenn Loury has drawn what seems to be the logical conclusion. "Anything that either incites other Americans to look upon inner-city blacks as different from themselves, or suggests to the inner city blacks that their future is in any place other than the mainstream, is a dangerous thing." 150 Once again, it is not clear whether Berkeley High is representative of the American urban high school. But even without further data one has to wonder whether life at Berkeley High as depicted in School Colors is not the natural consequence of the fear of cultural annihilation so promiscuously spread by CRATs.151
Cede the Political
Postmodern identity politics re-entrench oppression by justifying the policies of the right
Hill 9, teaches at Middlesex University and is Visiting Professor of Critical Education Policy and Equality Studies at the University of Limerick, Ireland (Dave, “Culturalist and Materialist Explanations of Class and "Race"”, Cultural Logic 2009 http://clogic.eserver.org/2009/Hill.pdf ***CRT is Critical Race Theory)
Young (2006) notes that “in terms of race, an Althusserian account is presented in Stuart Hall’s, 1980 article, “Race, Articulation, and Societies Structured in Dominance”: by the 1990s, Hall shifts to a semiotic notion of race, and sees race as a “floating signifier.” In many ways, Hall’s intellectual trajectory on race mirrors the larger shift from the “material” to the “semiotic” in social theory. (from Young, 2006) In a similar critique of Hall’s “New Times” analysis, I also trace the Stuart Hall’s (and other post-Marxist and postmodernist) progression from materialist analyses to semiotic/culturalist analyses) (Hill, 2001, 2005a). So does Jenny Bourne, in her discussion of the rise of cultural studies, the “Hokum of New Times,” and her critique of Hall over his post-Marxist position on “race,” “identity,” and difference. She writes, The politics of identity and difference were now being clearly used to justify the break with class politics and, indeed, with the concept of Left politics altogether. (idem) The “personal is the political” also helped to shift the center of gravity of struggle from the community and society to the individual. “What has to be done?” was replaced by “who am I?” as the blacks, feminists and gays, previously part of the pressure groups in Left parties or in social movements campaigning for rights, turned to Identity Politics. Articulating one’s identity changed from being a path to political action to being the political action itself. (2002:200) Bourne, continues, Sivanandan critiques postmodernism not so much in terms of the inward looking self-referencing type of debate, beloved of academics, as in terms of the danger it spells to anti-racist practice. First, he takes issue with those intellectuals who, at a time when racism against the black working class is getting worse, “have retreated into culturalism and ethnicity or, worse, fled into discourse and deconstruction and representation – as though to interpret the world is more important than to change it, as though changing the interpretation is all we could do to change the world.” And in an acerbic aside Sivanandan adds: “Marxists interpret the world in order to change it, postmodernists change the interpretation” (cited in Bourne, 2002, p. 203). Class is absolutely central to Marxist ontology and epistemology. Ultimately, it is economically induced and it conditions and permeates all social reality in capitalist systems. Marxists therefore critique postmodern and post-structural arguments that class is, or ever can be, “constructed extra-economically,” or equally that it can be “deconstructed politically” – an epistemic position which has underwritten in the previous two decades numerous so-called “death of class” theories, arguably the most significant of which are Laclau & Mouffe (1985) and Laclau (1996). I am not arguing against the complexities of subjective identities. People have Different subjectivities. Some individual coalminers in Britain were gay, black, Betty Page or Madonna fetishists, heavily influenced by Biggles or Punk, their male gym teacher or their female History teacher, by Robert Tressell or by Daily Porn masturbation, by Radical Socialists or by Fascist ideology. But the coal mining industry has virtually ceased to exist in Britain, and the police occupation of mining villages such as Orgreave during the Great Coalminers’ Strike (in Britain) of 1984-85 and the privatisation of British Coal and virtual wiping out of the coal mining industry was motivated by class warfare of the ruling capitalist fraction. It was class warfare from above. Whatever individuals in mining families like to do in bed, their dreams, and in their transmutation of television images, they suffered because of their particular class fraction position – they were miners – and historically the political shock troops of the British manual working class. Postmodernism’s rejection of metanarratives can be seen as symptomatic of the theoretical inability to construct a mass solidaristic oppositional transformatory political project, and that it is based on the refusal to recognise the validity or existence of solidaristic social class. More importantly, this general theoretical shortcoming is politically disabling because the effect of eschewing mass solidaristic policy is, in effect, supporting a reactionary status quo. Both as an analysis and as a vision, post-modernism has its dangers – but more so as a vision. It fragments and denies economic, social, political, and cultural relations. In particular, it rejects the solidaristic metanarratives of neo-Marxism and socialism. It thereby serves to disempower the oppressed and to uphold the hegemonic Radical Right in their privileging of individualism and in their stress on patterns and relations of consumption as opposed to relations of production. Postmodernism analysis, in effect if not in intention, justifies ideologically the current Radical Right economic, political, and educational project.
Critical pedagogy hides systems of class oppression behind concepts of individualism
Zavarzadeh 3 - retired professor of English at Syracuse University (Mas'ud, “The Pedagogy of Totality” Journal of Advanced Composition Theory 2003 JAC Online ***“the event” Zavarzadeh refers to is 9/11)
These pedagogues theorize desire, the affective, trauma, feelings, and experience, which are all effects of class relations, as spontaneous reality and deploy them in teaching to outlaw lessons in conceptual analysis of the social totality-which is aimed at producing class consciousness in the student (the future worker). The classroom is then constituted as the scene of desire where the student is interpellated as the subject of his or her affects which, in their assumed inimitability, ascribe to him an imaginary, matchless individuality. The un-said exceptionality of affect in the classroom of desire becomes an ideological alibi for the negation of collectivity grounded in objective class interests, and the student is taught to "wage a war on totality" by activating "the differences," and in "the honor of the name" identify with himself as an unsurpassable singularity that exceeds all representations (Lyotard, Postmodern 82). The pedagogy of totality is the negation of the negation. Berube's stories of a political CIA are narratives of capitalist desire aimed at fragmenting the internationalism of class connectedness among working people by dehistoricizing and localizing affects (suffering of the same and cheering of the other). However, the event has a history and, as an objective materiality, cannot be understood without placing it in the world-historical class struggles. But in the classroom of "enlightened false consciousness" constituted by desire, class has no place. Any explanations of the event as a moment in the unfolding of international class struggles, as a moment in which "two great classes" (the rich and the poor) are finally "directly facing each other," is suspended in silence (Marx and Engels, Manifesto 41). To put class back into teaching of the event is to move beyond dissipating history through "trauma" and anecdotes of affect and thus to put an end to the teaching of savviness, which masquerades as a curing of ignorance. The task of the pedagogy of totality is to teach the abstract relations that structure the concrete material reality and not be distracted by the details of appearance because "abstractions reflect nature more deeply, truly and completely" and bring the student closer to grasping social totality: "the relations of production in their totality" (Marx, Wage Labour 29), which is constituted by class antagonism, and therefore its unity is a "unity of opposites" (Lenin, "On" 358). The hostility to conceptual analysis and particularly to class critique in contemporary pedagogy goes well beyond the teach-ins on the event. It is the fundamental dogma of "radical" bourgeois pedagogy. Henry Giroux, for example, wipes out class from pedagogy on the grounds that class is part of what he calls "totalizing" politics (Impure 25-26). To be so totally opposed to totalizing is, of course, itself a totalization. But totalizing in opposing totalization does not seem to bother Giroux and other anti-totalizing pedagogues because the issue, ultimately, is really not epistemological ("totalizing") but economic ( class). In contemporary pedagogy, "totalizing" is an epistemological cover for the class cleansing of pedagogy. The pedagogy of affect is always and ultimately a ruse for pragmatism, which is, as the writings of Richard Rorty demonstrate, an apologetics for what actually "is"-the dominant system of wage labor (see Achieving). Pragmatism deploys the affective to naturalize the existing social relations of property by teaching affect as the only site in which the "hopes and aspirations" of the subject of learning can be fulfilled (Brooks): a site in which class is "dead" (Pakluski and Waters), and desire is sovereign (Gallop, "Teacher's"). Sovereignty, however, is not the sovereignty of the individual of affect but of consumption, which is eroticized to interpellate him or her as the individual of affect. "Ideologically, we see the same contradiction in the fact that the bourgeoisie endowed the individual with an unprecedented importance, but at the same time that same individuality was annihilated by the economic conditions to which it was subjected, by the reification created by commodity production" (Lukacs, History 62).
Turn: talking about race as an immutable or special category reifies racism—it’s oppression with a different name
Fields 90 (Barbara Jane, professor of American history at Columbia University, “Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America”, New Left Review 181, May/June 1990, JSTOR)//AS
Those who create and re-create race today are not just the mob that killed a young Afro-American man on a street in Brooklyn or the people who join the Klan and the White Order. They are also those academic writers whose invocation of self propelling ‘attitudes’ and tragic flaws assigns Africans and their descendants to a special category, placing them in a world exclusively theirs and outside history— a form of intellectual apartheid no less ugly or oppressive, despite its righteous (not to say self-righteous) trappings, than that practised by the bio- and theo-racists; and for which the victims, like slaves of old, are expected to be grateful. They are the academic ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ in whose version of race the neutral shibboleths difference and diversity replace words like slavery, injustice, oppression and exploitation, diverting attention from the anything-but-neutral history these words denote. They are also the Supreme Court and spokesmen for affirmative action, unable to promote or even define justice except by enhancing the authority and prestige of race; which they will continue to do forever so long as the most radical goal of the political opposition remains the reallocation of unemployment, poverty and injustice rather than their abolition. The creators and re-creators of race include as well a young woman who chuckled appreciatively when her four-year-old boy, upon being asked whether a young friend whose exploit he was recounting was black, answered: ‘No; he’s brown.’ The young woman’s benevolent laughter was for the innocence of youth, too soon corrupted. But for all its benevolence, her laughter hastened the corruption whose inevitability she laments, for it taught the little boy that his empirical description was cute but inappropriate. It enacted for him, in a way that hand-me-down stereotypes never could, the truth that physical description follows race, not the other way around. Of just such small, innocuous and constantly repeated rituals, often undertaken with the best of motives, is race reborn every day. Evil may result as well from good as from ill intentions. That is the fallibility and tragedy of human history—or, to use a different vocabulary, its dialectic. Nothing handed down from the past could keep race alive if we did not constantly reinvent and re-ritualize it to fit our own terrain. If race lives on today, it can do so only because we continue to create and re-create it in our social life, continue to verify it, and thus continue to need a social vocabulary that will allow us to make sense, not of what our ancestors did then, but of what we ourselves choose to do now.*
Lack of Marxist understanding of race reifies racism—ignores other forms of oppression and the true way racism operates in society
Young 06 (Robert, Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature. At New York University, “Putting Materialism back into Race Theory: Toward a Transformative Theory of Race”, The Red Critique 11, Winter/Spring 2006, http://www.redcritique.org/WinterSpring2006/puttingmaterialismbackintoracetheory.htm)//AS
McGary's desire to place black subjectivity beyond Marxism creates contradictions in his text. McGary asserts that the economic structures of slavery and Jim Crow shape cultural norms. Thus in a post-slavery, post-Jim Crow era, there would still be an economic structure maintaining contemporary oppressive norms—from McGary's logic this must be the case. However, McGary remains silent on the contemporary economic system structuring black alienation: capitalism. Apparently, it is legitimate to foreground and critique the historical connection between economics and alienation but any inquiry into the present day connection between economics and alienation is off limits. This other economic structure—capitalism—remains the unsaid in McGary's discourse, and consequently he provides ideological support for capitalism—the exploitative infrastructure which produces and maintains alienation for blacks as well as for all working people. In a very revealing moment, a moment that confirms my reading of McGary's pro-capitalist position, he asserts that "it is possible for African-Americans to combat or overcome this form of alienation described by recent writers without overthrowing capitalism" (20). Here, in a most lucid way, we see the ideological connection between the superstructure (philosophy) and the base (capitalism). Philosophy provides ideological support for capitalism, and, in this instance, we can also see how philosophy carries out class politics at the level of theory (Althusser Lenin 18). McGary points out "that Black people have been used in ways that white people have not" (91). His observation may be true, but it does not mean that whites have not also been "used"; yes, whites may be "used" differently, but they are still "used" because that is the logic of exploitative regimes—people are "used", that is to say, their labor is commodified and exchanged for profit. McGary's interview signals what I call an "isolationist" view. This view disconnects black alienation from other social relations; hence, it ultimately reifies race, and, in doing so, suppresses materialist inquiries into the class logic of race. That is to say, the meaning of race is not to be found within its own internal dynamics but rather in dialectical relation to and as an ideological justification of the exploitative wage-labor economy. This isolationist position finds a fuller and, no less problematic, articulation in Charles W. Mills' The Racial Contract, a text which undermines the possibility for a transracial transformative political project. Mills evinces the ideological assumptions and consequent politics of the isolationist view in a long endnote to chapter 1. Mills privileges race oppression, but, in doing so, he must suppress other forms of oppression, such as gender and class. Mills acknowledges that there are gender and class relations within the white population, but he still privileges race, as if the black community is not similarly divided along gender and class lines. Hence, the ideological necessity for Mills to execute a double move: he must marginalize class difference within the white community and suppress it within the black community. Consequently, Mills removes the possibility of connecting white supremacy, a political-cultural structure, to its underlying economic base.
No Absolute Race
Race was created to sustain slavery, not vice versa—it’s an undoable social construction
Fields 90 (Barbara Jane, professor of American history at Columbia University, “Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America”, New Left Review 181, May/June 1990, JSTOR)//AS
Racial ideology supplied the means of explaining slavery to people whose terrain was a republic founded on radical doctrines of liberty and natural rights; and, more important, a republic in which those doctrines seemed to represent accurately the world in which all but a minority lived. Only when the denial of liberty became an anomaly apparent even to the least observant and reflective members of Euro- American society did ideology systematically explain the anomaly. But slavery got along for a hundred years after its establishment without race as its ideological rationale. The reason is simple. Race explained why some people could rightly be denied what others took for granted: namely, liberty, supposedly a self-evident gift of nature’s God. But there was nothing to explain until most people could, in fact, take liberty for granted—as the indentured servants and disfranchised freedmen of colonial America could not. Nor was there anything calling for a radical explanation where everyone in society stood in a relation of inherited subordination to someone else: servant to master, serf to nobleman, vassal to overlord, overlord to king, king to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was not Afro-Americans, furthermore, who needed a racial explanation; it was not they who invented themselves as a race. Euro- Americans resolved the contradiction between slavery and liberty by defining Afro-Americans as a race; Afro-Americans resolved the contradiction more straightforwardly by calling for the abolition of slavery. From the era of the American, French and Haitian revolutions on, they claimed liberty as theirs by natural right.38 They did not originate the large nineteenth-century literature purporting to prove their biological inferiority, nor, by and large, did they accept it. Vocabulary can be very deceptive. Both Afro- and Euro-Americans used the words that today denote race, but they did not understand those words the same way. Afro-Americans understood the reason for their enslavement to be, as Frederick Douglass put it, ‘not color, but crime’.39 Afro-Americans invented themselves, not as a race, but as a nation. They were not troubled, as modern scholars often are, by the use of racial vocabulary to express their sense of nationality. Afro- American soldiers who petitioned on behalf of ‘These poor nation of colour’ and ‘we Poore Nation of a Colered rast [race]’ saw nothing incongruous about the language.40
Ideas of unbridgeable difference are essentializing and racist themselves
Mullings 05 (Leith, Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York, “Interrogating Racism: Toward an Antiracist Anthropology”, Annual Review of Anthropology 34, 2005, University of Michigan Libraries)//AS
Although overt racism has diminished in many countries, racial inequality continues and has in some instances worsened. Perhaps the most significant new feature isthe transformation of practices and ideologies of racism to a configuration that flourishes without official support of legal and civic institutions. Struggling to interpret these complex new forms of racism, scholars have bestowed such appelations as “laissez-faire racism” (Bobo 2004, p15); postracism (Winant 2001); racism in consequence rather than by formal institution (Bowser 1995b); “unmarked racisms” (Harrison 2000, p. 52); neoracism or cultural racism (Balibar 1991); and cultural fundamentalism (Stolcke 1995). Observers agree that often coexisting with flagrant forms of racism and genocide, “unmarked racisms” have been the trend in the colonial metropoles and former white settler societies. For example, Cowlishaw (2000) describes the postracial view that emerged in the 1970s as part of the modern repositioning of the Australian state, where the trend has been to expunge or conceal references to aborigines as a race,mystifying historically constructed differences and thereby obscuring the reasons for contemporary inequality—and the need for restitution.6 In South Africa, where the rationale for apartheid was a racialized cultural essentialism, the society remains deeply stratified by race. The rhetoric of multiculturalism and color-blindness (Sharp 2001, Erasmus 2005) is employed to suggest that the playing field is now level, facilitating the widespread opposition by whites to affirmative action, redistribution, and other forms of compensatory justice (Fletcher 2000). In Europe, observers have described a “new racism” that does not rely on notions of biological inferiority but rather appropriates the concept of culture and the “right to be different” to undergird a neoracism that essentializes culturaldifferences as unbridgeable. There has been some difference of opinion about whether this is a new formulation of racism (e.g., Balibar 1991); a reversion to pre–eighteenth century scientific racism in which cultural differences were seen as unbridgeable (Fredrickson 2002); or as Stolcke (1995) contends, a cultural fundamentalism based in notions of citizenship and distinct from traditional racism, which is grounded in biology.
Assuming that white/black interactions are necessarily negative is a fallacy that prevents any change in ideology or politics
Fields 90 (Barbara Jane, professor of American history at Columbia University, “Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America”, New Left Review 181, May/June 1990, JSTOR)//AS
Perhaps most intellectually debilitating of all is a third assumption: namely, that any situation involving people of European descent and people of African descent automatically falls under the heading ‘race relations’. Argument by definition and tautology thereby replaces argument by analysis in anything to do with people of African descent. Probably a majority of American historians think of slavery in the United States as primarily a system of race relations—as though the chief business of slavery were the production of white supremacy rather than the production of cotton, sugar, rice and tobacco. One historian has gone so far as to call slavery ‘the ultimate segregator’.7 He does not ask why Europeans seeking the ‘ultimate’ method of segregating Africans would go to the trouble and expense of transporting them across the ocean for that purpose, when they could have achieved the same end so much more simply by leaving the Africans in Africa. No one dreams of analysing the struggle of the English against the Irish as a problem in race relations, even though the rationale that the English developed for suppressing the ‘barbarous’ Irish later served nearly word for word as a rationale for suppressing Africans and indigenous American Indians.8 Nor does anyone dream of analysing serfdom in Russia as primarily a problem of race relations, even though the Russian nobility invented fictions of their innate, natural superiority over the serfs as preposterous as any devised by American racists.9 Loose thinking on these matters leads to careless language, which in turn promotes misinformation. A widely used textbook of American history, written by very distinguished historians, summarizes the three-fifths clause of the United States Constitution (article 1, section 2) thus: ‘For both direct taxes and representation, five blacks were to be counted as equivalent to three whites.’10 The three-fifths clause does not distinguish between blacks and whites—not even, using more polite terms, between black and white people. (Indeed, the terms black and white—or, for that matter, Negro and Caucasian—do not appear anywhere in the Constitution, as is not surprising in a legal document in which slang of that kind would be hopelessly imprecise.) The threefifths clause distinguishes between free Persons—who might be of European or African descent—and other Persons, a euphemism for slaves. The issue at stake was whether slaveowning citizens would hold an advantage over non-slaveowning citizens; more precisely, whether slaves would be counted in total population for the purpose of apportioning representation in Congress—an advantage for slaveholders in states with large numbers of slaves—and of assessing responsibility for direct taxes—a disadvantage. The Constitution answered by saying yes, but at a ratio of three-fifths, rather than the five-fifths that slaveholders would have preferred for representation or the zero-fifths they would have preferred for taxation. When wellmeaning people affirm, for rhetorical effect, that the Constitution declared Afro-Americans to be only three-fifths human, they commit an error for which American historians themselves must accept the blame. When virtually the whole of a society, including supposedly thoughtful, educated, intelligent persons, commits itself to belief in propositions that collapse into absurdity upon the slightest examination, the reason is not hallucination or delusion or even simple hypocrisy; rather, it is ideology. And ideology is impossible for anyone to analyse rationally who remains trapped on its terrain.11 That is why race still proves so hard for historians to deal with historically, rather than in terms of metaphysics, religion or socio- (that is, pseudo-) biology.
Race Focus Bad
Focus on race is a convenient political device that assuages liberal’s egos while ingoring the true problem—the aff’s insistence on race as the defining factor only makes the situation worse
Reed 05 (Adolph L., professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, “The Real Divide”, The Progressive, November 2005, http://progressive.org/mag_reed1105)
And neither wing of the labor movement—original recipe or extra crispy—has come near probing at the roots of the catastrophe in New Orleans in the last two decades of bipartisan neoliberal policy. While both admirably mobilized humanitarian aid, the AFL-CIO’s initial statement was pro forma and tepid in its criticism of the Bush administration. Change to Win’s was small-minded and opportunistic; it called on everyone to contribute to the Red Cross and Salvation Army and demanded that the rebuilding effort not suspend worker protections. This is especially sad because the labor movement is the one vehicle we have for reaching and crafting the broad base of working people who must be the foundation of any political movement that can hope to turn this tide. And it’s failing miserably. Race in this context becomes a cheap and safely predictable alternative to pressing a substantive critique of the sources of this horror in New Orleans and its likely outcomes. Granted, the images projected from the Superdome, the convention center, overpasses, and rooftops seemed to cry out a stark statement of racial inequality. But that’s partly because in the contemporary U.S., race is the most familiar language of inequality or injustice. It’s what we see partly because it’s what we’re accustomed to seeing, what we look for. As I argued in The Nation, class—as income, wealth, and access to material resources, including a safety net of social connections—was certainly a better predictor than race of who evacuated the city before the hurricane, who was able to survive the storm itself, who was warehoused in the Superdome or convention center or stuck without food and water on the parched overpasses, who is marooned in shelters in Houston or elsewhere, and whose interests will be factored into the reconstruction of the city, who will be able to return. New Orleans is a predominantly black city, and it is a largely poor city. The black population is disproportionately poor, and the poor population is disproportionately black. It is not surprising that those who were stranded and forgotten, probably those who died, were conspicuously black and poor. None of that, however, means that race—or even racism —is adequate as an explanation of those patterns of inequality. And race is especially useless as a basis on which to craft a politics that can effectively pursue social justice. Before the “yes, buts” begin, I am not claiming that systemic inequalities in the United States are not significantly racialized. The evidence of racial disparities is far too great for any sane or honest person to deny, and they largely emerge from a history of discrimination and racial injustice. Nor am I saying that we should overlook that fact in the interest of some idealized nonracial or post-racial politics. Let me be blunter than I’ve ever been in print about what I am saying: As a political strategy, exposing racism is wrongheaded and at best an utter waste of time. It is the political equivalent of an appendix: a useless vestige of an earlier evolutionary moment that’s usually innocuous but can flare up and become harmful. There are two reasons for this judgment. One is that the language of race and racism is too imprecise to describe effectively even how patterns of injustice and inequality are racialized in a post-Jim Crow world. “Racism” can cover everything from individual prejudice and bigotry, unself-conscious perception of racial stereotypes, concerted group action to exclude or subordinate, or the results of ostensibly neutral market forces.It can be a one-word description and explanation of patterns of unequal distribution of income and wealth, services and opportunities, police brutality, a stockbroker’s inability to get a cab, neighborhood dislocation and gentrification, poverty, unfair criticism of black or Latino athletes, or being denied admission to a boutique. Because the category is so porous, it doesn’t really explain anything. Indeed, it is an alternative to explanation. Exposing racism apparently makes those who do it feel good about themselves. Doing so is cathartic, though safely so, in the same way that proclaiming one’s patriotism is in other circles. It is a summary, concluding judgment rather than a preliminary to a concrete argument. It doesn’t allow for politically significant distinctions; in fact, as a strategy, exposing racism requires subordinating the discrete features of a political situation to the overarching goal of asserting the persistence and power of racism as an abstraction. This leads to the second reason for my harsh judgment. Many liberals gravitate to the language of racism not simply because it makes them feel righteous but also because it doesn’t carry any political warrant beyond exhorting people not to be racist. In fact, it often is exactly the opposite of a call to action. Such formulations as “racism is our national disease” or similar pieties imply that racism is a natural condition. Further, it implies that most whites inevitably and immutably oppose blacks and therefore can’t be expected to align with them around common political goals. This view dovetails nicely with Democrats’ contention that the only way to win elections is to reject a social justice agenda that is stigmatized by association with blacks and appeal to an upper-income white constituency concerned exclusively with issues like abortion rights and the deficit. Upper-status liberals are more likely to have relatively secure, rewarding jobs, access to health care, adequate housing, and prospects for providing for the kids’ education, and are much less likely to be in danger of seeing their nineteen-year-old go off to Iraq. They tend, therefore, to have a higher threshold of tolerance for political compromises in the name of electing this year’s sorry pro-corporate Democrat. Acknowledging racism—and, of course, being pro-choice—is one of the few ways many of them can distinguish themselves from their Republican co-workers and relatives. As the appendix analogy suggests, insistence on understanding inequality in racial terms is a vestige of an earlier political style. The race line persists partly out of habit and partly because it connects with the material interests of those who would be race relations technicians. In this sense, race is not an alternative to class. The tendency to insist on the primacy of race itself stems from a class perspective. For roughly a generation it seemed reasonable to expect that defining inequalities in racial terms would provoke some, albeit inadequate, remedial response from the federal government. But that’s no longer the case; nor has it been for quite some time. That approach presumed a federal government that was concerned at least not to appear racially unjust. Such a government no longer exists.A key marker of the right’s victory in national politics is that the discussion of race now largely serves as a way to reinforce a message to whites that the public sector is there merely to help some combination of black, poor, and loser.Liberals have legitimized this perspective through their own racial bad faith. For many whites, the discussion of race also reinforces the idea that cutting public spending is justifiably aimed at weaning a lazy black underclass off the dole or—in the supposedly benign, liberal Democratic version—teaching them “personal responsibility.” New Orleans is instructive. The right has a built-in counter to the racism charge by mobilizing all the scurrilous racial stereotypes that it has propagated to justify attacks on social protection and government responsibility all along. Only those who already are inclined to believe that racism is the source of inequality accept that charge. For others, nasty victim-blaming narratives abound to explain away obvious racial disparities. What we must do, to pursue justice for displaced, impoverished New Orleanians as well as for the society as a whole, is to emphasize that their plight is a more extreme, condensed version of the precarious position of millions of Americans today, as more and more lose health care, bankruptcy protection, secure employment, afford¬able housing, civil liberties, and access to education. And their plight will be the future of many, many more people in this country once the bipartisan neoliberal consensus reduces government to a tool of corporations and the investor class alone.
Focus on race is a neoliberal mask for expoloitation of the masses—it divides the poor black from the elite regardless of race and prevents successful movements against capitalism
Reed 05 (Adolph L.,professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, “Class-ifying the Hurricane”, The Nation, 10/3/05, http://www.thenation.com/article/class-ifying-hurricane#axzz2ZcPH3kri)//AS
What will be lost is the central point that the destruction was not an "act of God." Nor was it simply the product of incompetence, lack of empathy or cronyism. Those exist in abundance, to be sure, but they are symptoms, not ultimate causes. What happened in New Orleans is the culmination of twenty-five years of disparagement of any idea of public responsibility; of a concerted effort--led by the right but as part of a bipartisan consensus--to reduce government's functions to enhancing plunder by corporations and the wealthy and punishing everyone else, undermining any notion of social solidarity. I know that some progressives believe this incident will mark a turning point in American politics. Perhaps, especially if gas prices continue to rise. I suspect, however, that this belief is only another version of the cargo cult that has pervaded the American left in different ways for a century: the wish for some magical intervention or technical fix that will substitute for organizing a broad popular base around a clearly articulated, alternative vision that responds to most people's pressing concerns. The greater likelihood is that within a month Democratic liberals will have smothered the political moment just as they've smothered every other opportunity we've had since Ronald Reagan's election. True, Nancy Pelosi and others finally began to bark at the Bush Administration's persisting homicidal negligence. But my hunch is that, as with Iran/contra, the theft of the 2000 election and the torrent of obvious lies that justified the war on Iraq, liberals' fear of seeming irresponsibly combative and their commitment to the primacy of corporate and investor-class interests will lead them to aid and abet the short-circuiting of whatever transformative potential this moment has. This will also obscure the deeper reality that lies beneath the manifest racial disparities in vulnerability, treatment and outcome. The abstract, moralizing patter about how and whether "race matters" or "the role of race" is appealing partly because it doesn't confront the roots of the bipartisan neoliberal policy regime. It's certainly true that George W. Bush and his minions are indifferent to, or contemptuous of, black Americans in general. They're contemptuous of anyone who is not part of the ruling class. Although Bush and his pals are no doubt small-minded bigots in many ways, the racial dimension stands out so strikingly in part because race is now the most familiar--and apparently for many progressives the most powerful--language of social justice. For roughly a generation it seemed reasonable to expect that defining inequalities in racial terms would provoke some remedial response from the federal government. But for quite some time race's force in national politics has been as a vehicle for reassuring whites that "public" equals some combination of "black," "poor" and "loser"; that cutting public spending is aimed at weaning a lazy black underclass off the dole or--in the supposedly benign, liberal Democratic version--teaching blacks "personal responsibility." To paraphrase historian Barbara Fields, race is a language through which American capitalism's class contradictions are commonly expressed. Class will almost certainly turn out to be a better predictor than race of who was able to evacuate, who drowned, who was left to fester in the Superdome or on overpasses, who is stuck in shelters in Houston or Baton Rouge, or who is randomly dispersed to the four winds. I'm certain that class is also a better predictor than race of whose emotional attachments to place will be factored into plans for reconstructing the city. Of course, in a case of devastation so vast as this, class position provides imperfect insulation. All my very well connected, petit-bourgeois family in New Orleans are now spread across Mississippi and south Louisiana with no hint of when they will return home or what they'll have to return to. Some may have lost their homes and all their belongings. But most of them evacuated before the storm. No one died or was in grave danger of dying; no one was left on an overpass, in the Superdome or at the convention center. They were fortunate but hardly unique among the city's black population, and class had everything to do with the terms of their survival. Natural disasters can magnify existing patterns of inequality. The people who were swept aside or simply overlooked in this catastrophe were the same ones who were already swept aside in a model of urban revitalization that, in New Orleans as everywhere else, is predicated on their removal. Their presence is treated as an eyesore, a retardant of property values, proof by definition that the spaces they occupy are underutilized. And it's not simply because they're black. They embody another, more specific category, the equivalent of what used to be known, in the heyday of racial taxonomy, as a "sub-race." They are a population against which others--blacks as well as whites--measure their own civic worth. Those who were the greatest victims of the disaster were invisible in preparation and response, just as they were the largely invisible, low-wage props supporting the tourism industry's mythos of New Orleans as the city of constant carnival. They enter public discussion only as a problem to be rectified or contained, never as subjects of political action with their own voices and needs. White elites fret about how best to move them out of the way; black elites ventriloquize them and smooth their removal.Race is too blunt an analytical tool even when inequality is expressed in glaring racial disparities. Its meanings are too vague. We can see already that the charges of racial insensitivity and neglect threaten to divert the focus of the Katrina outrage to a secondary debate about how Bush feels about blacks and whether the sources of the travesty visited upon poor New Orleanians were "color blind" or racist. Beyond that, a racial critique can lead nowhere except to demands for black participation in decision-making around reconstruction. But which black people? What plans?Reconstruction on what terms? I've seen too many black- and Latino-led municipal governments and housing authorities fuel real estate speculation with tax giveaways and zoning variances, rationalizing massive displacement of poor and other working-class people with sleight-of-hand about mixed-income occupancy and appeals to the sanctity of market forces. The only hope we have for turning back the tide of this thuggish Administration's commitment to destroy every bit of social protection that's been won in the past century liesin finding ways to build a broad movement of the vast majority of us who are not part of the investor class. We have to be clear that what happened in New Orleans is an extreme and criminally tragic coming home to roost of the con that cutting public spending makes for a better society. It is a shocking foretaste of a future that many more of us will experience less dramatically, often quietly as individuals, as we lose pensions, union protection, access to healthcare and public education, Social Security, bankruptcy and tort protection, and as we are called upon to feed an endless war machine.
A focus on one racial group fails to address racial interactions to other racial groups – Asian racial movements prove
Koshy, Ph.D. @ UCLA Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, English @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 1
[Susan, “Morphing Race into Ethnicity: Asian Americans and Critical Transformations of Whiteness”, Boundary 2 , Vol. 28.1, pg 159-62, Duke University Press, Project Muse]//SGarg
While one of the most crucial challenges to white privilege and the corresponding construction of a collective subjectivity as ‘‘Asian Americans’’ was launched by the Asian American movement in the wake of the postwar black movement and in conjunction with the antiwar movement, my essay focuses on these less examined transformations of whiteness by Asian Americans, which were initiated by various Asian American groups and constitute acts of self-representation formulated as an address to the state or a white elite. Unlike the Asian American movement, these moments of racial reconstruction were initiated by various Asian Americans groups themselves and did not emerge in a political space opened up by another racial minority. Nor did they seek to engender multiracial coalitions. My purpose in examining these instances is precisely to highlight the dangers of a racial politics that leaves untheorized the relationship between an intermediary racial group and other marginalized groups in the racial hierarchy. The political transformations and identities produced by the Asian American movement in the 1970s represent a critical historical transition that informs this analysis, but focusing on these other speciﬁc pre- and postmovement articulations of racial meanings by Asian Americans illuminates the dynamics of racial realignment in the post–civil rights era, which has witnessed the breakdown of the coalitional rationality that drove the Asian American and antiracist struggles of the earlier era. The analysis of these cases leads into the ﬁnal section of the essay, which examines the relationship between the discursive reconstruction of whiteness in the post–civil rights era and the changing meanings of Asian American and black identities in an era of globalization marked by the dramatic growth of Asian economies and the reconstitution of the Asian American constituency through new immigration. The difﬁculty of articulating the dialectics of Asian American racial formation in the contemporary context is evident in the lack of scholarship on the subject; in what Omi and Dana Takagi characterize as the political embarrassment among left and progressive critics, in identifying the position of Asian Americans on such issues as afﬁrmative action; and in the lacunae in even such a major, dialectical analysis as Lisa Lowe’s Immigrant Acts in theorizing class stratiﬁcations among Asian Americans and formulating interminority relations.6 Since dialectical analysis requires that ‘‘however limited the immediate object of interest, investigating its potential requires that we project the evolution of the complex and integrated whole to which it belongs,’’7 an account such as Lowe’s, which analyzes Asian American emergence without incorporating the mutually constitutive relations of blacks and Asian Americans, is impeded in its attempt to historicize and systematize the complex conditions of their emergence as a group. A theorization of the racial structure, rather than a selective focus on white–Asian American relations, is an analytic precondition for projecting the group’s potential for further development, even as the projection of this potential forms the crux of the ‘‘anticipative-indicative’’ mode of dialectical critique.8 Immigrant Acts is considered an important and comprehensive study of the role of Asian Americans in constituting American national identity and warrants more detailed discussion because of the academic currency of the resistant Asian American subject it constructs. Certainly, Lowe’s work has opened up valuable new perspectives on how American national identity has been constituted by Asian American immigration, particularly in her analysis of the pre-1965 period of immigration. However, her interest in re- covering a subversive Asian American political subject constricts and simpliﬁes the understanding of agency that grounds her study of Asian American racialization. The organizing metaphor of Lowe’s genealogical study is the spatial one of Asian Americans’ contradictory position inside/outside the nation: ‘‘ ‘Immigrant acts,’ then, attempts to name the contradictions of Asian immigration, which at different moments in the last century and a half of Asian entry into the United States have placed Asians ‘within’ the U.S. nation-state, its workplaces, and its markets, yet linguistically, culturally, and racially marked Asians as ‘foreign’ and ‘outside’ the national polity.’’9 By examining minoritization and racialization primarily through their conﬂicted relationship to citizenship, this approach is limited by its framework from engaging the implications or salience of racial hierarchies in which Asian Americans came to assume an intermediary position, despite their ‘‘outsideness’’ to the nation. This conceptual constraint generates readings that, in the end, undermine Lowe’s political project of establishing the materialist basis for projecting the potential for cross-racial coalitions. For instance, Lowe reads Monique Thuy-Dung Truong’s ‘‘Kelly’’ 10 as an allegory of crossracial coalition building. Truong’s autobiographical piece struggles to locate its Vietnamese American narrator in the black-white divide of her ﬁrst American home in Boiling Spring, North Carolina, in 1975. ‘‘Kelly’’ deals with the ‘‘solidarity of misﬁts’’ created through the short-lived friendship of a fat white girl and the Vietnamese American narrator, and through the narrator’s separate friendship with Michelle, a girl with a ‘‘brown face’’ (who is possibly either ‘‘white trash’’ or of mixed race).11 The narrator is acutely aware of her position in the racial hierarchy above Michelle and the black girls, despite her own marginalization within the white community: ‘‘You said only black people lived in trailer homes. I said I wasn’t black as if your mamma and poppa would have let me into their house if they thought I was.’’ 12The narrative stresses the tenuousness of her former friendship with Kelly, the impossibility of its continuation in the present, and her childhood friend’s oblivion to the narrator’s unspoken fears and longings. But Lowe’s interpretation of this piece underplays the tensions and conﬂicts of this fraught racial stratiﬁ cation and constructs from it a celebratory account of cross-racial coalitions between a Vietnamese American girl and two white girls. Lowe extrapolates from a narrative about the stiﬂing social constraints on some racial crossings and the unsustainability of others the following political allegory of exclusion and resistance: ‘‘The story ultimately allegorizes a network of alliance across lines of race, class, and gender, a network that is . . . the basis of contesting the historically differentiated but intersecting determinations of racist colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism.13 The narrator makes it clear that the black girls inhabit a social world completely removed from hers and that she herself never manages to cross this racial boundary. But what, one wants to ask, happened to the black girls within Lowe’s celebratory political allegory? Do they have to disappear in order to bring it into existence? Does a narrative of resistant Asian American subjectivity in relation to whiteness that elides or obscures its ineluctable relationship to blackness allow us to adequately theorize either the impediments to the emergence of cross-racial coalitions or the prospects for it? My interest is not in producing a different reading from Lowe’s but in locating the weaknesses of theoretical paradigms grounded in an inside/outside binary and of dialectical analyses of Asian American racialization that erase, absorb, or subsume black racialization in a framework of parallel minoritization.
A focus on one racial group elevates them on capital’s social hierarchy making social mobility harder for other groups – Asian Americans prove. The only solution is to get rid of racism at its root
Koshy, Ph.D. @ UCLA Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, English @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 1
[Susan, “Morphing Race into Ethnicity: Asian Americans and Critical Transformations of Whiteness”, Boundary 2 , Vol. 28.1, pg 189-91, Duke University Press, Project Muse]//SGarg
Since European American ethnicity has achieved dominance as the paradigm of Americanness, it represents a very powerful solicitation to incoming immigrant groups who are caught in the process of recasting their identities and negotiating the terms of their Americanization. It offers a mythology of the American Dream that allows for their ethnicization rather than their racialization and ties the comforting vision of a continuity with the past (through ethnicity) to a promising future (through class mobility). Furthermore, the ethos of liberal pluralism that underwrites U.S. versions of multiculturalism encourages the maintenance of ethnic identity. So do the transnational networks between immigrants and their homelands supported by email, faxes, videophones, electronic capital, and discount airfares. These transnational networks are further strengthened by new waves of incoming immigrants, who revitalize the cultures of existing ethnic groups. Especially among Asians Americans, there has been a powerful resurgence of ethnicity because of continuing immigration. Douglas Massey predicts that since the post-1965 regime of immigration is quite distinct from patterns of early twentieth-century immigration, the assimilation of post-1965 immigrants is unlikely to follow the pattern of the assimilation of white ethnics. He stresses two factors. Firstly, the older European immigration, which peaked between 1901 and 1930, was followed by a hiatus in European immigration, from 1931 to 1970, which allowed the slow social processes that aid assimilation to take effect. Secondly, it was accompanied by a period of economic expansion, which made possible the economic and social mobility that was a necessary prerequisite to the absorption of peripheral white ethnic groups. According to Massey, neither of these conditions now exists to support the assimilation of Asian and Latin American immigrants; rather, the slowness with which assimilatory processes presently take effect contrasts sharply to the rapidity of changes brought about by the continuous It is important to keep in mind that Asian Americanness has acquired a very different inﬂection over the last decade because of the increasing economic strength of Asia and the greater interconnectedness with and dependency of the United States on Asia. While on the one hand, the economic competitiveness of many Asian nations has generated negative stereotypes, on the other hand, it is conceivable that given the corporate interest in Asia, the increase in tourism, and the proliferation of academic and cultural networks, Asian American ethnicity (facility with languages, mores, social networks) will increasingly serve as a form of cultural capital. Small wonder, then, that Disney recently launched its ﬁrst animated version of a Chinese legend, Mulan, or that the ad for the ﬁlm features the boy band 98° and Stevie Wonder urging a beautiful young Chinese woman to be ‘‘True to Your Heart,’’ while she moves through a store ﬁngering various Chinese artifacts. While the morphing of race into ethnicity is possible for intermediary racial groups and can function to open up an avenue to social mobility and afﬁliation with whiteness, this transformation is less possible for blacks. Moreover, as a result of the increasing abandonment of race in public discourse and public policy, we may see a discursive shift by which the political concerns of blacks are invalidated or suppressed by being relegated to the domain of race discourse and rendered, by that very move, obsolete. By contrast, the new ethnicities identiﬁed with the new needs of the global economy will accrue greater cultural capital, and their achievements will be used as an argument to roll back civil rights initiatives and as evidence that the racial problems of the 1960s have been resolved. In a compelling illustration of this trend, a recent New YorkTimes article describes how the Chinese American politician Gary Locke won the race for governor of Washington state by offering his immigrant story of hardship and struggle to the voters, while his black opponent for the Democratic nomination, Norm Rice, opted to suppress race in his campaign because it was too risky a strategy for a black politician to adopt. Speaking of Locke’s appeal to voters, his wife, Mona Lee Locke, observes, ‘‘People come up to Gary all the time and tell him what a role model he is, that they hope he runs for higher ofﬁce. Even Republicans. And it’s because of his race that they look up to him. They see in him the American Dream come true.’’ In a state poised on the Paciﬁc Rim and closely integrated with Asia through proliferating circuits of capital and communications, Locke’s ethnicity connotes much of what Washingtonians see as the globalizing future of their state, its adherence to color-blind principles of prosperity and its afﬁrmation of the American Dream. It is no contradiction that Locke won in a state where a ballot measure to remove af ﬁrmative action in hiring was successful, since both his and the ballot’s success are signs of the reconﬁguration of racial politics in the post–civil rights era. However, these reconﬁgurations have very different implications for a black politician such as Norm Rice and his Asian American opponent. Rice remarks of his run for governor, ‘‘I think that if people have a choice between an African-American and an Asian-American, they will probably choose the latter.... Whether people want to admit it or not, there is a hierarchy of race.’’ When the reporter poses the question of a racial hierarchy to Locke, his response is puzzlement: ‘‘Racial hierarchy? You know, I’ve never really thought about it.’’71