Friday, August 13, 2004

Racism, Space, and Resistance: Two Articles

I have encountered to interesting articles on racism, one a blog post by Paul Street which talks about the spatial (geographical, housing, community) manifestations of racism, and one an article by Manning Marable on neoliberal capitalist globalization and racism.

Two quotes from the Marable article:

You are not inventing models of social justice activism and resistance: others have come before you. The task is to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of those models, incorporating their anti-racist vision into the heart of what we do to resist global capitalism and the national-security state.

The anti-globalization movement must be, first and foremost, a worldwide, pluralistic anti-racist movement, with its absolutely central goal of destroying global apartheid and the reactionary residue of white supremacy and ethnic chauvanism. But to build such a dynamic movement, the social composition of the anti-globalization forces must change, especially here in the United States. The anti-globalization forces are still overwhelmingly upper, middle-class, college-educated elites, who may politically sympathize with the plight of the poor and oppressed, but who do not share their lives and experiences.

These two articles interest me because they, jointly, speak to things I have been thinking about since our move to Los Angeles. Because this city follows the pattern of residential segregation found in U.S. cities rather than the much less clearly defined pattern in most smaller Canadian cities, and because this city is physically immense even for one of its huge (10 million or so) population, issues connecting space and access to resources and the local nature of resistance to oppression are heightened, at least compared to what I was used to in Hamilton. In Hamilton there was considerable social distance between the activism of middle-class, white activists striving in one way for social justice, and activists who themselves were poor and/or people of colour who tended to be active in quite different ways. Of course the former tended to have more access to resources, and tended to act in ways that functionally excluded the presence and the concerns of the latter. But in Los Angeles that is compounded by the way the city emphatically physically segregates people along racial and class lines. (That is particularly challenging when trying to function in this city without a car, as we are.) It is one more obstacle in the path of building the kind of movement that Marable advocates.

No comments: