Monday, August 27, 2018

Black American Political Strategy MUST Focus On Black DOS Interests, PERIOD

theintercept |  Dr. Touré Reed, professor of 20th Century U.S. and African American History at Illinois State University, observed that the presumption that black Americans aren’t equally or more invested in economic interventions as white Americans is “pregnant, of course, with class presumptions” which work well for the black and Latinx professional middle class — many of whom play a significant role in defining public narratives via their work in politics or media. Since “the principal beneficiaries of universal policies would be poor and working class people who would disproportionately be black and brown,” he told me, “dismissing such policies on the grounds that they aren’t addressing systemic racism is a sleight of hand of sorts.”

Intersectionality, the “buzzword” taken up so faithfully by mainstream Democrats in 2016, requires an acknowledgment that like race and sexual identity, class is a dimension that mediates one’s perspective. That means the hashtag #trustblackwomen shouldn’t collapse the interests of Oprah, a billionaire, with, well, anyone else’s. Similarly, not all blacks or latinos should be presumed to speak equally to the interests of poor and working class people of color. This is a truth easily internalized when Democrats consider figures like Ben Carson or Ted Cruz. It’s a more difficult reality to swallow when considering one of our own.

None of this is to say that in every scenario, race, gender, sexuality, and class are equal inputs. Affluent black athletes are still tackled by cops despite their wealth, and black Harvard professors are arrested trying to unlock their own front doors. But the fact that racism hurts even those with economic privilege is not “proof” that class doesn’t matter, as some race reductionists have claimed. It’s simply affirmation that racism matters too. 

Consider, for instance, my colleague Zaid Jilani’s review of comprehensive police shooting data in 2015, in which he found that 95 percent of police shootings had occurred in neighborhoods where the household income averaged below $100,000 a year. Remember that Philando Castile was pulled over, in part, because he was flagged for dozens of driving offenses described as “crimes of poverty” by local public defender Erik Sandvick. Failure to show proof of insurance, driving with a broken taillight — these are hardly patrician slip ups. If anything is privileged, it’s the fiction that there’s no difference between the abuses suffered by wealthy black athletes and working class blacks like Philando Castile. Race can increase your odds of being targeted and abused. Money can help you survive abuse and secure justice — something which sadly eluded Castile.

“There is a tendency to reduce issues that have quite a bit to do with the economic opportunities available to all Americans, African Americans among them, and in some instances overrepresented among them, to matters of race,” explained Dr. Reed, who is currently writing a book on the conservative implications of race reductionism. He pointed to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, as well as the mass incarceration crisis, as examples. “In both those instances, Flint and the criminal justice system, whites are 40 percent, or near 40 percent, of the victims,” he said. And that’s an awfully high number for collateral damage.” He went on: “There’s something systemic at play. But it can’t be reduced, be reducible, to race.”