RaceRace/ismsReviewsSex & Gender

Margo Jefferson’s Coming of Age in Negroland

One of my fondest memories from the New School for Social Research Liberal Studies MA program comes from a course titled “Representations of Race and Gender in American Culture.” It was the day, about halfway through the semester, when co-teachers Elizabeth Kendall (author of feminist studies of early modern dance and 1930s screwball …

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CapitalismDisabilityEssaysRaceRace/ismsSex & Gender

The Disability Paradox

Further thoughts on inequality, disability, and the imaginal

Do you have a disability? Do you want to work? This seemingly innocent pairing of questions should immediately raise a red flag, for it is technically oxymoronic: in the United States, the disabled, by definition, are those who cannot work, at least in any significant sense. Granted, disability falls on a continuum, and answering to this continuum is a parallel benefits scheme for some workers — specifically, those whose disabilities have resulted from …

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DisabilityEssaysRaceSex & Gender

Invisible Privilege, Unspoken Racism

From street transactions to the NYSED disability campaign

I spent most of my summer on the Italian coast, in the little town where I was born, as I do almost every year. The difference, this time, was that I had not been back to my home country for a whole year. This gave me some sort of a distance from the customs and habits I have grown up with and perhaps also enabled me to see things I had never noticed before. In particular, as an insider-outsider, I was struck by the number of African immigrants …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia/PublicsRace

The (de)Construction of the “Illegal” Immigrant

Latinos respond to Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s derisive statements about Mexican immigrants have mobilized a large portion of the Latino community in the United States. Faced with the same old accusations that Mexican immigrants are criminals, drug-dealers, or rapists, businesses and public figures such as Univision, NBC, ESPN, NASCAR, Macy’s, chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian, Miss USA contestants, and even mayor of New York Bill de Blasio, took action …

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CapitalismEssaysRace

Who Bankrolled Jim Crow?

Global capital and American segregation

Look no further than American suburbs to find some of the starkest legacies of Jim Crow. Segregated through redlining and disproportionately benefiting from state subsidies, American suburbs fixed the geography of white supremacy. But when we look at American suburbia, we must also look beyond America’s borders. It turns out that thousands of average British people helped shape housing discrimination in the United States through …

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EssaysRaceThe Left

And Yet It is Round!

Untimely thoughts on Europe, Migration, and the State

Untimely thoughts on Europe, Migration, and the State

As I do every year, I have spent most of this summer on the Italian coast, in the region around the Gulf of Poets. This summer, as soon as I put my head underwater, I am struck by the beauty of the sea: the water is so blue that, at times, it turns violet; there are fish everywhere, sea urchins, sea stars, and seaweeds of such amazing sparkling colors as I have never seen in the region. People around me speak of a “tropicalization of the Mediterranean.” …

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CapitalismEssaysRaceRace/isms

Slaves: The Capital that Made Capitalism

A re-post

This post, adapted from a lecture in the team-taught course “Rethinking Capitalism” at The New School for Social Research and first published last year, is being reposted today to provide critical insight into today’s headlines. Slavery was central to the development of the American political economy. Ott reviews the recent scholarship that shows how it came to be that Black lives haven’t mattered. -J.G.

Racialized chattel slaves were the …

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EssaysRaceRace/isms

Actually Essential Reading About the Confederacy

Understanding the historical context of the massacre in Charleston and the debate about the Confederate battle flag

The massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and the subsequent debate about the Confederate battle flag have sent Americans scrambling for historical context. The shortlist of introductory readings on the Confederacy recommended by John Williams in the New York Times ArtsBeat, however, is an embarrassing catalog of dated scholarship that emphasizes the experiences and reflections of white elites. Histories of the lives of Confederate generals that date to the 1930s may have their virtues. The impact of the Civil War on the planter class is surely worth knowing. And no one ought to discount smart literary analyses of Harriet Beecher Stowe or Albion Tourgee. But scholarship that predates the Carter Administration and centers on a small segment of the slaveholding class hardly provides a starting point for understanding our current moment. …

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EssaysRaceRace/ismsThe Left

Charlie Hebdo and the Appeal for French Context

White & Black Analytics

The attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January 2015, during which fourteen people were killed, pose a specific problem for the white left. The call to contextualize Charlie Hebdo foregrounded a structurally white French context, in which people of colour and Muslims could be included only as loyal subjects of the Republic. The translations of France offered by French and Francophile leftists for their “Anglo-American” interlocutors, while revealing of the French dynamics of secularism, universalism, and coloniality, marginalised those “who could not be Charlie.” Instead, to use Barnor Hesse’s formulation, a “white analytics” was advanced that denied the centrality of the “black analytics” crucial for a complete understanding of both historical and contemporary French conflicts around race and religion (Hesse 2014). “Context,” therefore, stand in for racial neutrality: in reality, an impossibility. …

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EssaysRaceRace/isms

Learning Baltimore

A student asked me whether I had arranged the Baltimore riots to take place now, at the end of our semester. The news out of Baltimore too perfectly illustrates so much of the history I teach. I suspect I am not alone in this odd feeling of validation — at once reassuring yet terrifying — that the patterns identified by historians are also incredibly important to activists. They may have never taken our classes. They live the experience that most historians merely describe in our research and teaching. “Sometimes,” Tom Sugrue declared recently, “I wish my scholarship wasn’t so relevant.” …

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