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robertogreco : jillfilipovic   2

The endless arguments on social media, during which we all go back and forth with each other like…
"Take for example Jill Filipovic, who remains nothing more than a well-made caricature of every white liberal with a saviour complex. She smugly accused today’s socialist left of being “more 1930s than 60s”. “Remember who was excluded from political participation in the 30s?,” she asked. You could almost taste this patronising, flippant derision that is so common of those who turn out to be nothing more than gentrifying legacy hires with platforms they’ll never deserve. The response Filipovic received in light of this grotesquely ahistorical accusation was swift. Everyone from Corey Robin to local US organisers began chiming in with a blow to her argument more devastating than the last. And among the white socialists were Black, and PoC leftists, of many political affiliations, some of whom began to discuss their frustration with being denied the right to their own historical existence. And of the lucky few that Filipovic decided to respond to a majority of them were white. This is the shtick the rest of us have grown accustomed to. How else are you going to accuse socialists of being white men if you’re made to acknowledge the existence of Black and PoC socialists? Especially those of us who are not a part of the Bernie Sanders coalition, but to their left.

We don’t exist, but for the illustrations of us they use to peddle neoliberal policies, and centrist organising tactics that are about as spineless and cartoonish as their very ideology. Those of us who identify as leftists, who occupy numerous spaces on the margins of society, are made to feel as though we are both imaginated and irrelevant. They’ve chosen to deliberately, and maliciously misrepresent our radicalism for their own benefit. The white, socialist men are hijacking our PoC voices, they say, and yet you will never catch them engaging with us. We are only good enough to exist as garments — worn on occasion when they want to make it known that they are here to save us from this so-called white ideology.

It isn’t just Filipovic, but others, so many others, who choose to communicate and argue almost entirely with white men for the sake of further isolating us. They understand that our identities threaten the very heart of their assertion. So which is it? Are we invented or are we inconsequential? And what about those who came before us, from across the globe, whose battles have made so many aspects of our lives possible — Paul Robeson, Hussain Muruwwah, Frantz Fanon; Grace P. Campbell, Claudia Jones, Louise Thompson; Benita Galeana, Elvia Carrillo Puerto, Elena Torres. And so many others.

How long can you possibly keep this charade going? Soon enough no platform on this earth will be enough to drown out all of our voices."
roqayahchamseddine  2017  politics  poc  jillfilipovic  invisibility  erasure  paulrobeson  hussainmuruwwah  frantzfanon  gracecampbell  claudiajones  louisethompson  benitagaleana  elviacarrillopuerto  elenatorres  misrepresentation  radicalism  socialism  diversity  berniesanders  coreyrobin 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Verso: Dehumanization by Deification: On Kamala Harris and "Black Women Will Save Us"
"My introduction to the politics of Kamala Harris came from the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) and other sex worker organizations and activists in the wake of the federal shutdown of Backpage’s adult section in January. Backpage was a website that a number of sex workers used to advertise and screen potential clients. The closure and federal persecution of Backpage, Rentboy.com, and other similar online spaces meant that escorts and other sex workers were denied the ability to conduct their work with the degree of safety that comes with the virtual separation of workers and their would-be clients. As a newly elected California senator, Harris praised the shutdown of the adult section; previously, as California Attorney General, Harris repeatedly sued Backpage alleging that the website was profiting in the sex trafficking (and slapping its CEO, Carl Ferrer, with a pimping charge).

Despite arguments by sex workers that the closure of online work spaces would be harmful to them, Harris, like many others, claimed to support sex workers while actively making their lives more difficult: her prosecutorial logic deliberately conflated voluntary sex work and sex trafficking in a way that was indistinguishable from the rhetorics of sex work abolitionists and sex work exclusionary feminists (SWERFs). Her carceral justifications for these criminalizations were complementary to the outright anti-poor, anti-Black, anti-queer and trans attacks from the present administration and their material implications for sex workers. Yet Harris has swiftly been elevated as a kind of progressive feminist hero injecting new life into the party purporting to stand in stark ideological opposition to the one currently dominating most of the American government.

Harris has also been heavily criticized for her support for civil asset forfeiture (via her 2015 sponsorship of legislation seeking to battle transnational organized crime and meth trafficking) and her office’s refusal to expand early parole programs because the state would lose part of its heavily subsidized inmate labor force (she later claimed to be “shocked” that her department’s lawyers made this argument). She also contested the appeal for gender reconstructive surgery made by an incarcerated trans woman, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, as well as similar requests from other incarcerated trans people. Despite her bipartisan effort with Republican Senator Rand Paul to eliminate pre-trial bail, people familiar with her pre-Senate record on criminal justice are reasonably skeptical of her — particularly given her refusal to proactively investigate police shooting in San Francisco during her tenure as state attorney general — and the buzz from establishment Democrats and “progressives” that has made her a new party darling and a soft potential 2020 presidential candidate.

“Black women will save us!” has been a kind of refrain both following the presidential election (where 94% of Black women voters supported Clinton) and the emergence of Maxine Waters and Harris as congressional gadflies outspokenly challenging the Republican Party in various hearings on Capitol Hill. As with Hillary Clinton, a gendered liberal rhetoric has emerged to defend Harris, claiming that she is being criticized because “leftist bros” are resentful of and threatened by female political leadership. Liberal commentators continue to conflate the most vocal and visible contingent of Bernie Sanders supporters — “Bernie Bros” — with the entirety of the left, and use this conflation to insist on dismissing “the left” on the grounds of racism. There is no denying that whiteness is reproduced (and the labor behind that reproduction invisibilized) throughout much of the left, but even if these critiques were made in good faith, it does not make sense to erase of leftists of color if one intends to further progressive discourses.

Roqayah Chamseddine wrote incisively on this dynamic where slightly left of center [white] pundits deliberately elide non-white contributions to left movements and discourses in the name of a left-baiting centered around specific politicians (namely, Bernie Sanders). She responds to Jill Filipovic’s revisionist erasure of Black and Brown contributions to 20th century left organizing, writing that leftists of color are not acknowledged for anything outside of "the illustrations of us they use to peddle neoliberal policies, and centrist organizing tactics that are about as spineless and cartoonish as their very ideology.” These savioristic declarations that the left is exclusionary demonstrate that leftists of color are "only good enough to exist as garments — worn on occasion when they want to make it known that they are here to save us from this so-called white ideology.”

There are critiques of Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton that simply reflect a contempt for women [of color], and those misogynies are of course unacceptable. But there is a duly irresponsible and unacceptable idea that an individual’s politics are beyond reproach because they possess a marginalized identity (or multiple ones). Just as it was warranted to criticize President Barack Obama’s defense of empire as president or LGBQT people’s homonationalist and pinkwashed participation in the police state or some white women’s embrace of white supremacy, it is both politically necessary and politically correct to make pointed critiques of a woman of color’s track record of advocating for and even embodying the carceral state. Ironically, many of these same white people — particularly liberal white women — pay lip service to “amplifying the voices of women of color," yet they, once again, erase our voices as soon as they realize that our opinions are not monolithic and we cannot be so easily objectified and dehumanized as the saviors of liberalism through empty rhetorics of representation and inclusion.

The refusal to acknowledge the violent politics of a woman of color because of her raced-gendered identity is comparably racist to a critique of woman of color that revolves solely around those identities: white supremacy, remember, knows no sectarian or ideological bounds. Dehumanization, whether through degradation or deification, reflects of bigoted regard for minoritized individuals or groups; it objectifies of the identities of women of color to suit one’s politics. It is both infantilizing and condescending to avoid holding women of color’s politics to the same standard of rigor as the white men we easily (and necessarily) critique. and rests on no meaningful understanding of hegemonic social structures. This superficial politics of representation (i.e. the idea that elevating minorities to positions of power is an unquestioned social good regardless of their politics) and a weird fetishization, rather than actual respect, for non-white womanhood.

There seems to be an irreconcilable dissonance in this white liberal logic: how can "Black women save ‘us’” if the complexity and heterogeneity of our discourses, identities, needs, and humanity are ignored to make room for our superficial insertion into and tokenization within anti-left “progressive” arguments and shallow pandering by the Democratic Party during election cycles? Beyond, once again, demonstrating the limitations of politician-centered politics, these identity-based politics of infallibility also softly seem to insinuate that women of color (and politicians of color in general) are impossibly fragile or less capable (or worthy) of receiving much-needed critique without being altogether abandoned or seen as disposable.

If we can criticize the ineffectuality of the Democratic Party, can we not also criticize the non-white figures they tap to push those same dissatisfying politics on the party’s behalf?

The role of a state attorney general is to act as the state’s premiere law enforcement officer, and in occupying this position, Harris was essentially enforcing the will of a racist and anti-poor state “justice” system (the most populous state and one of the most expansive carceral states, at that). To pretend that only white men could possibly articulate a radical critique of this political track record and trajectory is wildly disingenuous. We will surely see Kamala Harris’ name all over the news in the coming years, but more important than the political advancement of the new progressive superstar is the revelation of white liberalism’s complete inability to engage non-white women both within the public political arena and outside of it."
zoésamudzi  2017  politics  left  leftism  race  erasure  racism  kamalaharris  liberalism  policy  democrats  hillaryclinton  roqayahchamseddine  jillfilipovic  poc  progressives  progressivism 
august 2017 by robertogreco

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