corporate left functions as a movement to mainstream radical and revolutionary

Corporate left functions as a movement to mainstream

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“corporate left” functions as a movement to “mainstream” radical and revolutionary political activism through cause-based conferences, the nonprofit sector, and the academy. She notes that there is a lack of democratic practices in these professionalized spaces as well as any accountability to disenfranchised communities. Furthermore, James explains that the corporate left appropriates radical and revolutionary Black politics, framing such ideologies as too extreme. This phenomenon is achieved by the moderating of such ideologies while simultaneously popularizing radical and revolutionary Black women’s images, such as Angela Davis, such that more people are familiar with her afro hairstyle than her politics. With commodified and domesticated radical and revolutionary
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27 messaging, the corporate left appears to have more potential for effecting change than they really have while preventing examination and altering of the root structures of oppression. James’ analysis of Black feminist politics provides an understanding of some of the obstacles antiracism faces as a political movement. This is relevant to many moments of the mainstream women’s movement where class, sexuality, and race were marginalized as distractions from the “bigger problem” of sexism. These distinctions were maligned as identity politics, a distraction from the apparently more important power dynamics. Thus, the overall impact of this historical maligning of Black feminist thought is that it is relegated to the sidelines of Black (male) and (white) feminist activist scholarship. As Audre Lorde suggests: “In a society where the good is defined in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, there must always be some group of people who, through systematized oppression, can be made to feel surplus, to occupy the place of the dehumanized inferior” (114). When profit is the driving force, the dynamics of power and privilege versus disadvantage and oppression are going to be maintained despite injustice. Or, through liberalism, the injustice will be ameliorated, made more tolerable, but the underlying systems and institutions that perpetuate that oppression go unexamined and therefore unreformed. Linda Martín Alcoff argues in “An Epistemology for the Next Revolution” (2011) that “universal knowledge claims about knowledge itself need, at minimum, a deep reflexivity about their own cultural and social location” (68) because lived experience influences what is valuable as knowledge. Furthermore, Alcoff argues that epistemological authority should be given “to those whose lives and experiences are marginalized by the dialectic of intelligible possibilities,” in other words, the poor and (racialized, gendered) others whose cultural and social location are a source of oppression (68). She argues that “the dialectic of intelligible possibilities” is in fact a limitation of what is conceivable and knowable according to dominant ways of thinking, and that
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  • Summer '19
  • Maria Yvonne Dy

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