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1NC vs Wake

Risam’22 |Roopika Risam is Chair of Secondary and Higher Education and Associate Professor of Education and English at Salem State University. She also serves as the Faculty Fellow for Digital Library Initiatives, Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies, and Coordinator of the Combined B.A./M.Ed. in English Education. “Indigenizing Decolonial Media Theory” in Feminist Media Histories, Vol. 8, Number 1, pps. 134–164|KZaidi

By promoting the “Decolonizing Gender” workshop, Lululemon provides an example of how corporations use progressive politics as what I call extractive currency”: a form of capital that derives value from paying lip service to leftist activist causes, such as dismantling white supremacy, promoting women’s empowerment, or supporting decolonization. Specifically, it operates by appropriating the socially conscious content it purports to support and thus extracts its value as a form of activist discourse. At best, extractive currency undercuts the meaning of the appropriated content; at worse, it reverses it entirely and reinforces the oppressions it claims to critique. Lululemon’s “Decolonizing Gender” workshop demonstrates how the phenomenon of decolonization has been transmediated as a form of extractive currency, commodifying the term without naming the violence of Indigenous dispossession and genocide or making meaningful contributions to Indigenous sovereignty. A closer look at Kern’s publicity materials indicate that workshop objectives include: “unveil historical erasure of gender diversity”; “witness impacts of colonization on gender diverse communities”; “understand gender constructs across the world which inform culture”; and “analyze colonialism, capitalism and consumerism and the systemic violence against gender diverse communities.”26 Testimonials indicate a focus on gender affirmation: “A big takeaway was that there is no ‘norm’ when it comes to gender”; “I learnt so many examples of gender expansive expressions outside of the westernized US framework”; “I learned SO much about the history of gender. I found myself questioning and unlearning so much in just 90 minutes.”27 Notably absent in Kern’s description and participants’ testimonials is any attention to the impact of colonization on Indigenous people. At best, one might argue that at least the workshop addresses the integral relationship between colonialism and capitalism, recognizing that resisting capitalism is a precondition to decolonization. Yet, its failure to center the relationship between colonization and Indigenous people, along with its relationship to Kern’s own brand and connection to Lululemon, signifies the ways that discourses of decolonization have been co-opted and commercialized as the lived realities of Indigenous people are subject to erasure. This workshop, along with Kern’s others, like “Race, Gender and Bias” (“A deepdive conversation about race, bias, gender and integration of understanding within the environments you interact in, combining deep self-awareness with an understanding of systems of power and oppression to push past our own inherited biases and create accountability around racial and gender justice”) and “Fully Integrated” (“This weekend will also consider methods of self-care, acknowledging critical care and developing plans and teams of care”), appear to be part of Kern’s own brand and business model.28 Perhaps the biggest sign that the workshop uses decolonization as little more than extractive currency lies in Lululemon’s response to criticism. Without Douthat’s disdain for progressive politics, the white British journalist Helen Lewis earnestly defines the “woke capitalism” phenomenon as one in which “[b]rands will gravitate toward low-cost, high-noise signals as a substitute for genuine reform, to ensure their survival.”29 Yet, the reverse is also true: they will retreat from these signals should the tide turn against them or they can no longer extract value from a particular kind of progressive discourse. Notably, once the backlash against “Decolonizing Gender” began, Lululemon quickly distanced itself from the workshop, clarifying that it was not an official company event but one organized by Kern alone. This signals that there is not, in fact, genuine commitment, only one that is contingent on the value that can be extracted.

EXTRACTIVE MEDIA DISCOURSES How do we best understand the ways that decolonization has become divorced in media from the material realities of Indigenous dispossession and genocide? When discourses of decolonization are evoked as metaphorical, a phenomenon articulated by Eve Tuck (Unangaxˆ) and K. Wayne Yang (Asian descent), they become a kind of extractive currency mediated by social media—the capital of “woke capitalism”—through the commodification of trendy public discourses around power.30 As an extractive currency, its use is indicative of both the historical and contemporary erasures of Indigenous people from the settler colonial state. Furthermore, parallels between the extractive use of “decolonization” and “intersectionality” suggest a broader trend toward the appropriation of socially conscious language in media activism. In their article, “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor,” Tuck and Yang respond to the ways that “decolonization” has been “superficially adopted into education and other social sciences, supplanting prior ways of talking about social justice, critical methodologies, or approaches which decenter settler perspectives.”31 They articulate acute concern for the ways that these uses of decolonization “make no mention of Indigenous peoples, our/their struggles for the recognition of our/their sovereignty, or the contributions of Indigenous intellectuals and activists to theories and frameworks of decolonization.”32 For Tuck and Yang, such uses are attempts to “reconcile settler guilt and complicity and rescue settler futurity,” or what they call “settler moves to innocence.”33 They speak to an affective value extracted from decolonization, in the possibility of settlers distancing themselves from the material realities of settler colonialism, such as land, as well as the reputational capital that can be extracted from that self-positioning. What is clear from their analysis is that activist and academic circles are not immune from the metaphorical uses of decolonization discourses, where they use it as an extractive currency by generating enthusiasm for social justice work—as is the case at many universities today like my own, described at the outset of this essay—and displacing their responsibility. In that regard, they are no less culpable for the commodification of decolonization than corporations.

The alternative is a refusal of the affirmative in favor of black nonperformance. The 1AC has failed on the level of form because it has been seduced by the faux radicality of debate. They have entered into a contract with debate via making space for themselves without making any noise because they rely on the rubric of normative and rational modes of evaluation. Our affirmation of black nonperformance is the ultimate refusal to give in to the contract of debate which creates the condition of possibility for insovereign resistance.

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