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Adolph Reed: class reductionism is a myth [https://youtu.be/YPxNG-ZOaBY](https://youtu.be/YPxNG-ZOaBY)
Adolph Reed: class reductionism is a myth [https://youtu.be/YPxNG-ZOaBY](https://youtu.be/YPxNG-ZOaBY)
it seems like reed is saying that that disparity discourse is divisive because while disparities can be racialized, the emphasis of race over class is often unproductive. and so racism, within a social, historical, and cultural context, is often used to further hinder the collective struggle against capitalism, so it also serves to maintains to racial disparities and the capitalists' status quo. therefore, i feel like the argument made by those mislabeled as "class reductionists" is not that class should be prioritized over race, but that the struggle to end class disparity should go hand-in-hand with ending racial disparity. after watching the video i ended up watching and reading a few other things that featured reed's ideas, but i feel like i still don't fully grasp his point, so i thought i'd write out what i think he's saying to see if i'm on the right track.
it seems like reed is saying that that disparity discourse is divisive because while disparities can be racialized, the emphasis of race over class is often unproductive. and so racism, within a social, historical, and cultural context, is often used to further hinder the collective struggle against capitalism, so it also serves to maintains to racial disparities and the capitalists' status quo. therefore, i feel like the argument made by those mislabeled as "class reductionists" is not that class should be prioritized over race, but that the struggle to end class disparity should go hand-in-hand with ending racial disparity. after watching the video i ended up watching and reading a few other things that featured reed's ideas, but i feel like i still don't fully grasp his point, so i thought i'd write out what i think he's saying to see if i'm on the right track.
You are correct! In some ways you can see how liberal discourse about race and anti racism never wants to connect to the bigger picture of class. This is why so many people get a hard on for "a seat at the table" without necessarily questioning why and how that table was built. Its assimilating into the system as opposed to possibly destroying and or changing it
You are correct! In some ways you can see how liberal discourse about race and anti racism never wants to connect to the bigger picture of class. This is why so many people get a hard on for "a seat at the table" without necessarily questioning why and how that table was built. Its assimilating into the system as opposed to possibly destroying and or changing it
ok! that makes sense. i watched the full interview on jacobin's channel, and listened to his argument about intersectionality too, which i don't think i grasped as well as the myth of class reductionism. but it does seem like he's making the same argument that like disparities discourse, intersectionality is divisive. i feel like i understand the importance of intersectionality, and the nuance and layers of an individual's identity and struggle. but while reed isn't necessarily opposed to intersectionality, he seems critical of it... do you think that stems from not only it's divisiveness, but it's roots in high academia, where one's knowledge intersectionality becomes a measuring stick for intellectual superiority (performative wokeness)? i don't think i've seen discourse from the "left" challenging intersectionality, so if you or anyone who watched reed's thoughts on intersectionality could clarify his point that would be awesome :) thanks!
ok! that makes sense. i watched the full interview on jacobin's channel, and listened to his argument about intersectionality too, which i don't think i grasped as well as the myth of class reductionism. but it does seem like he's making the same argument that like disparities discourse, intersectionality is divisive. i feel like i understand the importance of intersectionality, and the nuance and layers of an individual's identity and struggle. but while reed isn't necessarily opposed to intersectionality, he seems critical of it... do you think that stems from not only it's divisiveness, but it's roots in high academia, where one's knowledge intersectionality becomes a measuring stick for intellectual superiority (performative wokeness)? i don't think i've seen discourse from the "left" challenging intersectionality, so if you or anyone who watched reed's thoughts on intersectionality could clarify his point that would be awesome :) thanks!
I think intersectionality as a theory and idea is useful, but it has its limits and has also been largely misunderstood in the way it has been adapted in neoliberal thinking/online spaces and also within the context of the epistemological dominance of racism white supremacy + capitalism. Also the way categories (gender/race/class) are 'measured up' is not always nuanced or evidence based and often comes from some vague understanding based on individual experiences (hence the individualisation of group categories). For example, Black men in America as a group are a good starting point to critique both the theory and the misunderstanding of intersectionality. Black men in America experience worse incarceration and policy brutality rates, higher unemployment, and in health worse life expectancy, infant health outcomes, age- and cause-specific morbidity and mortality, insurance coverage, and access to adequate health care, the list goes on. But often in the world of populist neoliberalism, it is believed that Black men magically evade these outcomes because they are men or that they have male privilege. How do people come to this conclusion? Because the overarching power structure of capitalism white supremacy is not properly considered AND the fallacy of viewing intersectionality through (white) feminism leads people to believe that Black men must be privileged because they are men first and not Black first. However countless Black scholars and history will show you that they are Black first, and in the context of white supremacy - white men being at the top - male=threat, Black=threat. People who claim to be using 'intersectionality' are really just lumping people into categories without thinking what those categories mean. I think in the end it has led to more divisiveness because in stacking these categories it has made more categories!
I think intersectionality as a theory and idea is useful, but it has its limits and has also been largely misunderstood in the way it has been adapted in neoliberal thinking/online spaces and also within the context of the epistemological dominance of racism white supremacy + capitalism. Also the way categories (gender/race/class) are 'measured up' is not always nuanced or evidence based and often comes from some vague understanding based on individual experiences (hence the individualisation of group categories). For example, Black men in America as a group are a good starting point to critique both the theory and the misunderstanding of intersectionality. Black men in America experience worse incarceration and policy brutality rates, higher unemployment, and in health worse life expectancy, infant health outcomes, age- and cause-specific morbidity and mortality, insurance coverage, and access to adequate health care, the list goes on. But often in the world of populist neoliberalism, it is believed that Black men magically evade these outcomes because they are men or that they have male privilege. How do people come to this conclusion? Because the overarching power structure of capitalism white supremacy is not properly considered AND the fallacy of viewing intersectionality through (white) feminism leads people to believe that Black men must be privileged because they are men first and not Black first. However countless Black scholars and history will show you that they are Black first, and in the context of white supremacy - white men being at the top - male=threat, Black=threat. People who claim to be using 'intersectionality' are really just lumping people into categories without thinking what those categories mean. I think in the end it has led to more divisiveness because in stacking these categories it has made more categories!
thanks! that makes a lot of sense. as intersectionality has entered mainstream social justice, how can one work towards bringing awareness to the flaws and nuances of intersectionality? i feel like i can help my peers come to this understanding, but as a student, i notice that a lot of my "progressive" professors use the ideology of intersectionality in a crude manner within their curriculum. as the hierarchy between students, teachers, and administration put student voices on an unequal playing field, how can i appropriately bring their ideas into question?
thanks! that makes a lot of sense. as intersectionality has entered mainstream social justice, how can one work towards bringing awareness to the flaws and nuances of intersectionality? i feel like i can help my peers come to this understanding, but as a student, i notice that a lot of my "progressive" professors use the ideology of intersectionality in a crude manner within their curriculum. as the hierarchy between students, teachers, and administration put student voices on an unequal playing field, how can i appropriately bring their ideas into question?
It's tricky to be honest with you, because neoliberalism is so pervasive in academia! Considering the overarching superstructure (capitalism white supremacy) and sub-structures first before considering the identities these structures produce/reproduce, is really helpful. Another way is to exemplify things using evidence rather than just theory based platitudes. Don't get me wrong, theory is SO important, but it is often misunderstood/misapplied. Which is why you can't go wrong using existing evidence from rigorous empirical studies to prove your points. Be ready for people to get argumentative though, because anything that challenges their identity (ego) often becomes personal rather than really trying to understand the broader picture.
It's tricky to be honest with you, because neoliberalism is so pervasive in academia! Considering the overarching superstructure (capitalism white supremacy) and sub-structures first before considering the identities these structures produce/reproduce, is really helpful. Another way is to exemplify things using evidence rather than just theory based platitudes. Don't get me wrong, theory is SO important, but it is often misunderstood/misapplied. Which is why you can't go wrong using existing evidence from rigorous empirical studies to prove your points. Be ready for people to get argumentative though, because anything that challenges their identity (ego) often becomes personal rather than really trying to understand the broader picture.
thanks for another informative reply :) do you have any recommendations for where to find evidence? tbh, sending a faculty member one of reed's videos doesn't seem like the best option haha.
thanks for another informative reply :) do you have any recommendations for where to find evidence? tbh, sending a faculty member one of reed's videos doesn't seem like the best option haha.
you're welcome :) when I was referring to evidence I guess it would be context specific to whatever you were discussing with your peers/professors. Was there a particular example you wanted to share and I can give you my two cents lol. I came across this paper [https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-014-0119-x](https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-014-0119-x) in my research work which is a very practical application of intersectionality theory to public health policy problems. I found it interesting because from a research perspective, actually applying intersectionality theory to empirical data collection is really complex, but can be really useful in understanding social nuance.
you're welcome :) when I was referring to evidence I guess it would be context specific to whatever you were discussing with your peers/professors. Was there a particular example you wanted to share and I can give you my two cents lol. I came across this paper [https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-014-0119-x](https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-014-0119-x) in my research work which is a very practical application of intersectionality theory to public health policy problems. I found it interesting because from a research perspective, actually applying intersectionality theory to empirical data collection is really complex, but can be really useful in understanding social nuance.
I think it's extremely unfair to say Reed doesn't want to "fight racism" or that his politics would leave POC out of socialism. He's not critical of the antiracist project because he doesn't care about racism, he's critical of it because he thinks its diagnoses are limited and its solutions are bad. He argues -- often very well -- that many of the issues, such as police brutality and mass incarceration, which are today largely treated as the domain of racial identity politics, can actually only be explained in a very limited way by a race-focused analysis, and so can't really be solved by a race-focused politics. For instance, treating police shootings as a centrally racial issue leaves out the hundreds of white people killed by American police every year, and elides the way that the racial disparity in shooting victims gets much, much smaller when you control for the factor that really unifies the overwhelmingy majority of victims -- their economic class. From this perspective, racial discrimination starts to look like one aspect of a much larger issue -- the effect material immiseration has on communities, the higher crime rates it produces, and the way the state uses force to maintain order and immiseration, rather than using redistributive policy to actually improve the immiseration that produces crime in the first place. For Reed, the point is that race-first politics as it currently exists elides these much broader and deeper critiques of American capitalist society, downplaying the suffering of non-racialised working people who have very similar problems, while simultaneously ignoring the tools (class politics) that could actually alleviate the root causes of the issues it claims to value so highly.
I think it's extremely unfair to say Reed doesn't want to "fight racism" or that his politics would leave POC out of socialism. He's not critical of the antiracist project because he doesn't care about racism, he's critical of it because he thinks its diagnoses are limited and its solutions are bad. He argues -- often very well -- that many of the issues, such as police brutality and mass incarceration, which are today largely treated as the domain of racial identity politics, can actually only be explained in a very limited way by a race-focused analysis, and so can't really be solved by a race-focused politics. For instance, treating police shootings as a centrally racial issue leaves out the hundreds of white people killed by American police every year, and elides the way that the racial disparity in shooting victims gets much, much smaller when you control for the factor that really unifies the overwhelmingy majority of victims -- their economic class. From this perspective, racial discrimination starts to look like one aspect of a much larger issue -- the effect material immiseration has on communities, the higher crime rates it produces, and the way the state uses force to maintain order and immiseration, rather than using redistributive policy to actually improve the immiseration that produces crime in the first place. For Reed, the point is that race-first politics as it currently exists elides these much broader and deeper critiques of American capitalist society, downplaying the suffering of non-racialised working people who have very similar problems, while simultaneously ignoring the tools (class politics) that could actually alleviate the root causes of the issues it claims to value so highly.
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