Double standards in the criminal justice system, the relationship between feminism and sex work as well as between reparations and immigrants were on readers’ minds this week. The top responses came for “Freedom Rider: Justice and Paul Manafort,” “South African Sex Workers Embrace Feminism,” and “ADOS Shrinks Black Liberation Politics to Fit the Cramped Horizon of Tribalism.”
In “Freedom Rider: Justice and Paul Manafort” Margaret Kimberley argues that Democrats are self-righteously blasting the criminal injustice system because political operatives associated withTrump are facing prison.
Rebecca Snody writes:
“Manafort has been a sleazebag lobbyist courting indiscriminate international tyrants to garner United States favor ever since the time of Gerald Ford. He also managed to do this without Donald Trump being in the picture he worked on Ford's presidential campaign he worked on Bush one and Bush twos presidential campaign and he's been sleazy and rotten the whole time. Like you said the Democrats just didn't care because they've got a Manafort equivalent and you can bet on that.”
In “South African Sex Workers Embrace Feminism” Nkozo Yingwana shares her experiences organizing sex workers in South Africa and argues that sex work is a legitimate form of work.
Shrey Goel writes:
“The notion that commodifying and selling sex is a path to empowerment for women and girls is an extension of neoliberal patriarchal capitalism. It is also patently false given the profound harms inherent in the sex trade and given the coercion, poverty, and desperation that lead most to enter it.
“Many formerly prostituted women and lifelong advocates have cultivated a feminist analysis of prostitution based on empiricism and praxis, and these perspectives must also be considered. For example Rachel Moran, in an interview with Chris Hedges, deconstructs the claim that ‘sex work’ is like other labor: in prostitution, workplace hazards include male violence, desired traits include youthfulness, and unlike with labor the body itself is the product. With regards to the relationship between the sex trade and racism, Vednita Carter, a survivor leader and black woman who works with hundreds upon hundreds of women in the sex trade every year, has discussedhow the sex trade is a natural extension of slavery. She has also articulatedthat one of the most potent tools of the oppressor is to recruit the oppressed in desiring their own subjugation. While ‘sex worker’s rights’ are sold as a movement by and for the marginalized, in fact the vast majority of women and girls within the sex trade do not have a voice or a platform. A closer look reveals that the corporate plutocracy has a vested interest in framing sex work as a path to empowerment, with billionaires like George Soros dedicating their resources to this propaganda. Their push to normalize pimping and brothel-keeping seeks to pave the way for the explosion of a ‘self-regulating’ neoliberal sexual-access market. As the environment degrades due to the greed of unregulated colonial-corporate collusion, the most marginalized are conscripted into servicing our elites who build mega-brothels at the intersections of racism, sexism, poverty, and violence.
“This is why women like Vednita Carter, Rachel Moran, and many others all support the Nordic Model which promotes the criminalization of sex buyers and decriminalization of prostituted peoples while providing a plethora of support and exit services. In her interview, Nkozo Yingwana stated that this would be analogous to allowing fruit and vegetable vendors to sell on the street while criminalizing their buyers, thus comparing women and girls to fruits and vegetables. Nkozo Yingwana also stated that supporting sex work is about bodily integrity and autonomy. In fact, it is the sex trade itself (pornography, prostitution, etc…) that reifies the male entitlement to sex which produces the actual violations of bodily integrity and autonomy that women and girls suffer every day.”
In “ADOS Shrinks Black Liberation Politics to Fit the Cramped Horizon of Tribalism” Bruce Dixonargues that the “American Descendants of Slaves” movement throws away the internationalism of their forebears and advocates a form of American nativism.
Ron Davis writes:
“I don't really agree with the way your framing of ADOS. It is a problem that they don't embrace what we know as leftism but to them leftism is just far left liberalism. They dismiss socialists and communists because of Bernie. I think he's unfortunately become the standard bearer for us when at best he's a left capitalist. His lineage is of FDR and not Eugene Debs. I think Bernie doesn't want to be known as the reparations candidate but his dismissal of reparations does make him look racist. I can see their point on that. They understand white supremacy but they don't see that we need to fight capitalism too. Some even want to fight their capitalist oppressors with black capitalism but they do seem to share the idea that they don't want to become the exploiters. I believe that cognitive dissonance will become problematic sooner or later.
“ADOS doesn't have an issue with other peoples getting reparations due to them. They just want to make sure that ADOS are made whole. There is a debt that must be paid for all the exploitation and expropriation of surplus labor value and violations of basic human rights by their respective perpetrators due unto the respective victims. Simply fixing the socioeconomic conditions of today doesn't ameliorate the crimes of the past.
“I feel ADOS should be regarded as an indigenous struggle. They may not always be perfect but when they're successful it creates opportunities for the downtrodden, dispossessed, and destitute to move forward. I do wish they didn't dismiss class struggle but I can understand it when it's framed as the white working class. Domestically unions have excluded blacks in the past. I wish they would understand that class is inclusive of all the social constructs that affects your ability to gather resources including race. Though I disagree with it on a lot of things I still believe it should be supported.”
Wendi Muse writes:
“I have listened to Yvette Carnell [a leader of ADOS] since 2015 and following Trump’s elections she became nativist with time. I understand and agree with the need for reparations, but this effort can be achieved without nativism. It requires a critique of the right people: those with real power. My concern with the ADOS movement, specifically on Twitter and YouTube, is that its focus has tended to be the nativism. That stirs up anti-immigrant sentiment but misdirects from dismantling the structures that harm us. They blame the workers not the bosses.”
The debates over reparations and sex work featured here are just some to watch for in this section. Keep a close eye for more.
Jahan Choudhryis Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA
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