Sunday, July 18, 2021

Talk About "Race Relations" Deflects Mass Consciousness From The Political Economy

taibbi |  Combating racism becomes a convenient alternative to attacking inequality and inequality, even those inequalities that appear or the manifest themselves as racial disparities. Because the struggle against racism is exactly parallel to the struggle against terrorism… It can go on forever, because the enemy is an abstraction that you can define however you want to define it, at the moment that you wanted to find it.

DiAngelo’s not the first person to do this. There was a woman named Peggy McIntosh who going back to the eighties had the “knapsack of privilege,” or some shit like that. I know people who have had careers at racial sensitivity trainings, and the people that I know, in my world — the people who came out of the movement actually came out of anti-Klan politics, or rather left politics in the seventies, and they started doing this stuff. It makes sense in the same way that people who were graduate students in the late sixties and early seventies who were left theory-inclined people got into the Frankfurt School. That became the cornerstone of their academic careers.

Well, that’s what’s happened in the anti-racism or the racial sensitivity training world. And one of the things that’s happened over time is that the material incentives — and it’s funny, pardon this aside, but it’s funny how many political-economy-oriented leftists we encounter who apply critical political economic thinking to every domain in the world — outside the movement that they’re operating in. So the material incentives evolved, and changed over time. And some of my friends who have done this work have said to me that they used to do it for community groups, used to do it for unions and so forth and so on. Then, as the material incentives change, they want to build and do more for corporations, or for local governments who were under consent decrees.

So this becomes part of the thing. You’re under a consent decree for actual discrimination. One of the remedies that’s likely to be imposed as part of the decree is that you submit to this training. And we see it all the time now. Even the insurgencies within NGOs, right? Where the staff or whatever is going batshit crazy about how the leadership of the organization is all racist, sexist, whatever. And one of the first calls is to bring in some minor-league version of Robin DiAngelo to do the racial sensitivity training. So in that sense, it’s taken hold as part of what I’ve often described as the broader political economy of race relations.