Jean Beaman presents some of her research into race and police violence, and the response to such violence, in France. Explicitly putting recent French incidents and patterns in comparative perspective with those involving law enforcement and African Americans in the United States, Beaman finds some similarities and many differences in how social mobilization against police violence is framed and carried out. In particular, she focuses on how French republicanism makes it more difficult to organize around claims based on the status of marginalized social identities (black, Muslim) as compared to the role played by BlackLivesMatter in the United States.
Ashleigh Campi’s essay for the “Race & Capitalism” series explores the intersection of these two forces through recent transformations in US public education. Campi discuss preemptive criminalization—how schools as social spaces have increasingly become sites of surveillance and punishment for students of color. Neoliberal policies, evident in the push for privatization, augment this process as many charter schools’ disciplinary policies are especially punitive regarding black youth.
John Robinson III’s contribution to the “Race & Capitalism” series provides a historical perspective on what he calls American capitalism’s “selective democratization,” especially with regards to race. The myth of a self-regulating market, argues Robinson, obscures the political underpinnings of economic inclusion, which has consistently favored the “self-reliance” of white workers while excluding blacks. He draws on W. E. B. Du Bois’s analysis of the post–Civil War Freedmen’s Bureau and attempts to democratize housing assets in the 1970s through the Community Reinvestment Act as examples of policy efforts to increase inclusion that have been thwarted by racial politics.
Soon after its founding, the SSRC engaged the study of race and race relations in the United States with the support of its main funder, the Rockefeller philanthropies. However, by 1930, Rockefeller and the Council shifted focus, shuttering the four committees tasked with studying these issues. Here, Maribel Morey critically examines the early history of the SSRC’s approach to race in the 1920s and 1930s, focusing on its relationship with the shifting priorities of the philanthropies that supported it. This includes major projects of the era such as W. E. B. Du Bois’s ambitious Encyclopedia of the Negro and the massive research undertaking that launched Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma.
Hannah Appel’s contribution to the “Race & Capitalism” series explores the intersection of these two forces in global labor markets. Based on research on the transnational oil industry in Equatorial Guinea, Appel analyzes the dramatic wage differential among employees and contractors based on nationality, which can often be seen as a proxy for race. Below the surface of market rationales for such distinctions, Appel argues, is the centrality of racialized difference in the structuring of transnational labor.
Michael Dawson, curator of the new series on “Race & Capitalism,” kicks things off with a reflection on how the contemporary intersection between racialization and the capitalist political economy is taking democracy to the brink. Building on a key insight from W. E. B. Du Bois (discussed in detail by Ella Myers in an earlier Items essay), Dawson links the breakdown in upward mobility for many working-class whites to a reinvigoration of the public face of white supremacy. Tracing the nexus of capitalism, racial domination, and patriarchy in the United States, Dawson engages the question of emancipatory movements, and the possibilities of their emergence, in a political moment he sees as a full-blown legitimacy crisis.