Articles in Politics
This last goal of Prashad’s, to inspire coalition “from below” between Blacks and Asian Americans, is a common theme of the historian’s work and has helped make him a popular figure among progressives both in and outside of academia. Yet what, exactly, are the terms of solidarity Prashad advances in Uncle Swami and how does a particular reading of third world coalition, as well as of United States racial history, scaffold his call to arms?
In hopes of pushing the AFL-CIO to expand its agenda, we want to address here why the two issues of police targeting of African Americans and Black (un)employment are intertwined. This is more than a theoretical exercise given the aforementioned Black unemployment rate—which is higher in each state than the overall rate—and the fact that African Americans have a higher arrest rate, a higher imprisonment rate, and a disproportionate number under some type of community supervision than other racial groups. While the AFL-CIO is of course not the only labor organization in the United States, we purposefully address our concerns to the federation as it involves 56 national and international labor unions representing 12.2 million people in a country with only 16 million people represented by a union (those who are union members or have jobs covered by unions or employee association contracts). Thus, the AFL-CIO is one of the largest and most powerful labor organizations in a country and world experiencing one of the worst financial crisis in decades.
This position statement addresses four issues related to the criminalization of African Americans and Black (un)employment: 1) arrest and conviction records and what this means for job applications and licensing; 2) surveillance on the way to work; 3) the health impact of criminalization and what this means for Black employment status; and 4) mass incarceration and prison labor. Our goal is to synthesize some of the ways the criminalization impacts African Americans’ efforts to seek work or maintain employment and also encourage the AFL-CIO to prioritize addressing the Black unemployment crisis.
Embedded in this access narrative is the assumption that the government, federal and local, does not want minorities to be married; thus minorities being granted the right to marry supposedly means that the state has evolved in terms of its gender and sexuality politics and is working to progressively dismantle the social hierarchy rather than enforce it. The narrative also promotes the belief that once married, it gets better: specifically, after the marriage barrier is broken the government is presumably no longer “in your bedroom” or regulating your relationship beyond protecting the aforementioned rights and benefits institutionally available to married couples. In sum, it’s often assumed that the government’s only repressive role in this situation is preventing people from getting married.
These assumptions are inaccurate.
What this debate about Zimmerman’s racial identity and Black-Latino relations demonstrates is that with few exceptions, we have no intellectual vocabulary to adequately discuss the racial position of non-Black people of color (NBPOC) in relation to African Americans in the U.S. racial order. Instead, as in the case of Zimmerman, we have the following options: argue that Latinos are “acting white,” that George Zimmerman is a “white” Latino (although I think he could easily be read as a “Brown” Latino), or discuss the internal diversity of Latinos in terms of color, language, and nativity and simply hope that their so-called “internal” conflicts (which are really structural) get worked out soon. Overall, there is a difficulty, which appears to be both conceptual and emotional (or at the very least ethical), to say that as a Latino and thus someone who exists in the world politically as “Brown,” Zimmerman or other Latinos can be anti-Black and more importantly, have political and social power over Blacks (in the United States and in Latin America) independent of identifying with whiteness or being socially or legally classified as white.
So what does all of this have to do with the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and more specifically, what do I mean when I write that Zimmerman’s “minority defense” was “20 years in the making”? In brief, some of the major patterns of progressive race scholarship emerging after, and to large degree in response to the riots, contribute to the logic of Zimmerman’s minority defense.
One day a friend and I were talking about “Black disappearance” as a phenomenon. She spoke of it in regards to the new film about Joyce Carol Vincent, a Black woman whose dead body was “discovered” decomposing on the couch in her London apartment nearly three years after she went missing.
The Wages of Non-Blackness: Contemporary Immigrant Rights and Discourses of Character, Productivity, and Value
I have an article in the latest issue of InTensions, “(De) Fatalizing the Present and Creating Radical Alternatives,” guest edited by Anna M. Agathangelou and Kyle D. Killian. The special issue also features new articles …
In October I presented on a panel that examined how race and notions of illegality intersected at the conference “Imprisoned, Forgotten, and Deported: Immigration Detention, Advocacy, and the Faith Community.” Below are my remarks.
“Race, Illegality, …
I have two entries in the new encyclopedia Anti-Immigration in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Kathleen R. Arnold.
My entry on the Chinese Exclusion Act is an effort to challenge the dominant accounts …
My new article “Barack Obama’s Community Organizing as New Black Politics” has recently been published in a special issue of Political Power and Social Theory titled “Rethinking Obama,” edited by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Louise Seamster.
This chapter explores …