The con of diversity is all that distinguishes Democratic Party elites and white feminists from the big Orange Menace in the White House.
“Rapinoe is not Kaepernick.”
White feminism has its roots in the defense and reproductionof mass Black enslavement. Nowhere was this more evident than during the era of Jim Crow, when thousands of Black males were terrorized and lynched for their assumed predisposition toward the rape and violence of white women. While some still uphold white feminism as a progressive or “liberal” political tendency, recent history tells a different story. White women voted in great majorities forDonald Trumpin 2016 and overwhelmingly supported Jim Crow. White bourgeois femininity has thus acted not as an ally of Black America and the working class generally, but as a reinforcer of the white supremacist relations of American empire.
Megan Rapinoe has received much praise from the corporate media for protesting Donald Trump. The U.S. national soccer team star has made several remarks in opposition to Donald Trump’s racism and refused to attend the White House coronation of the USA team’s June victory in the World Cup. Rapinoe’s line is that Trump creates an environment of exclusion. Of course, the U.S. has always been an environment of exclusion. The U.S. is designed that way to serve the rule of the rich at the expense of those who produce their profits. Black America has always been the most important class within this arrangement and has thus been subjected to the most odious and heinous forms of exclusion. Rapinoe’s support of Colin Kaepernick in 2016 showed the wide appeal of his stance against racist policing. However, Rapinoe is not Kaepernick and her anti-Trump opposition has little substance.
“White bourgeois femininity has acted as a reinforcer of the white supremacist relations of American empire.”
Black misleadership class representative and media pundit Van Jones generously gave Rapinoe a platform from which she could expose her fake progressivism. Rapinoe’s interviewreceived the most attention for its defense of the “gang of four” Congresswomen who were attacked by Donald Trump over Twitter. Of course, Rapinoe’s based her opposition to Trump mainly upon etiquette rather than policy or political disagreements. Trump is not playing nice and, according to Rapinoe, his white supremacy is “disgusting.”
However, white supremacy is much more than bad behavior. White supremacy is a system armed to the teeth to protect class rule and a foundational force in the American way of life. That white supremacy is endemic in American life explains why behavior such as that exhibited by Donald Trump exists at all. But Rapinoe appears to have no problem with white supremacy as a system given who she named as her favorites for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination.
Rapinoe told Van Jones that she was not too fond of Bernie Sanders because of his age (although she didn’t wantto sound ageist). Rapinoe expressed a deep desire for a woman to be president regardless of the political implications. For this reason, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris topped her list of 2020 presidential hopefuls. Rapinoe’s choices for who should rule exposes the bankruptcy of white feminist politics and their white supremacist and neoliberal underpinnings. “Old man” Sanders has significant support from young Black Democratic Party voters as well as a large contingent of workers and poor people who generally vote Democrat. But his policy proposals for Medicare for All, a living wage, and the eradication of student debt are too left for people like Rapinoe. Rapinoe defies Trump’s rhetorical racism but doesn’t defy the system that produced him. Her “resistance” extends no further than supporting Democratic Party candidates such as Harris who offer nothing but a more well-mannered regime of austerity, white supremacy, and endless war.
Rapinoe’s ‘resistance’ extends no further than supporting Democratic Party candidates such as Harris.”
White feminism and its attendant regime of corporate diversity politics offer an anti-Black, “pro-American” pathway to imperial plunder that white liberal elites and their allies in the Black misleadership class can unite around. The political moment demanded that large sections of the Democratic Party elite defend the “gang of four” after Trump’s racist attacks on Twitter. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the gang have a solid base in popularity, much of which is due to their adherence to Sanders-like social democratic politics. Furthermore, the Black struggle for self-determination is primarily responsible for creating the shift in popular consciousness that has made overt manifestations of white supremacy less acceptable in the public sphere. Corporate Democrats like Pelosi have continued their attempts to use Trump as a “pied piper” to deflect from their own shortcomings and crimes.Yet Trump’s reign has challenged both the consensus on war and austerity in the imperialist system and the so-called existence of a “color-blind” society—a challenge that the corporate Democrats simply have no answer for.
The emergence of social democratic demands out of the campaign of “Old Man Sanders” coupled with Trump’s overt racism has forced the white liberal elite class into a political crisis within the larger framework of neoliberal capital’s race to the bottom. Transitional demands such as Medicare for All are just as “disgusting” to elite liberals such as Rapinoe as white supremacy, which is why they publicly oppose Sanders without a moment’s hesitation. The con of diversity continues to be the most popular talking point that Democratic Party establishment elites and white feminists utter because it is all that is left to distinguish them from the big orange menace in the White House. Elizabeth Warren is “smart” and “powerful” even though she has left the door open to receive support from corporate donorsshould she win the nomination. Harris presents the obvious appeal of a woman of color in the White House, regardless of her record of servitude to the mass incarceration regime and finance capital.
“Pelosi attempts to use Trump as a ‘pied piper’ to deflect from their own shortcomings and crimes.”
The con of diversity has thus become vital in an era where masses of exploited workers and unemployed people, of which Black Americans represent a disproportionate number, have two choices before them: socialism or barbarism. The path to barbarism not only includes the reactionary white nationalism of Donald Trump but also the white feminist liberalism of his opponents in the ruling class. These forces reinforce each other. One cannot exist without the other. The path to socialism, or the public control of the means of production, is not necessarily represented by Bernie Sanders, who is more of a 21stcentury New Deal Democrat. Rather, the seeds of socialism rest in the fact that his social democratic program is such anathema to the forces of barbarism that it threatens to break up the Democratic Party. Austerity is the consensus among the ruling elite and the more that the struggling masses in the U.S. understand this, the closer we will come to the much needed splintering of the so-called “lesser of two evils” party which has held the left in captivity for over two generations.
Of course, questions of race and white supremacy cannot be confined to the politics of the 2020 elections. A true social democratic and socialist movement will have to wrestle with white supremacy. While the class function of the mass incarceration and warfare state is clear, it is also clear that these institutions were designed to keep Black Americans and oppressed people worldwide on the bottom of the class structure. Medicare for All, an end to student debt, and other reforms are not possible under a regime of racist terror, nor do they provide relief from the police murdering of hundreds of Black Americans in the streets every year. Thus, as Black Agenda Report has consistently maintained, there will be no socialism in the U.S. without a movement for Black self-determination.
“Sanders’ program is such anathema to the forces of barbarism that it threatens to break up the Democratic Party.”
While only Black Americans can lead such a movement, those of who are supportive of this cause need to forthrightly condemn the forces that prevent its development. And individuals like Rapinoe and Van Jones encapsulate those forces perfectly. Donald Trump is an engine of racial animus and fear, but oppressed people have stared down and defended themselves from that fear throughout the course of history. It was Malcolm X who said that the fox is the most dangerous canine because it will pretend to befriend its prey and then destroy it with just as much vigor as the wolf. The Democratic Party remains a pack of foxes which have become fat from the patronage of finance capital. Corporate diversity is the ideological tool which helps them catch their pray—that being us. It is past time that this form of fake progressivism is ditched for a politics of class struggle and self-determination. While there is no crystal ball for when such a movement will arise, we won’t stand a chance unless we avoid falling prey to the seductive trappings of white feminism and corporate diversity.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News -- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing).He can be reached at [email protected],on Instagram at danny_haiphong, and on Twitter at @SpiritofHo
Please join the conversation on Black Agenda Report's Facebook page at http://facebook.com/blackagendareport
Or, you can comment by emailing us at [email protected]