Incites of Injury: Black Feminist Politics, Risky Tactics of Survival and the Production of the Radical Consciousness in the Age of Obama
Brittany Michee Lewis
University Of Minnesota
October 15, 2011
NCOBPS 43rd Meeting Paper
A refusal to talk about race and gender in a clear and coherent manner, the "post-politics" of the Obama era not only signified a shift in Black politics, but a crisis in Black feminist politics where radical Black women, who are pushed into political outer space, are compelled to employ risky political maneuvers to become realized. My paper asks the following questions: How does Hillary Clinton’s campaign against sexism authenticate certain sources of gendered knowledge while simultaneously naming non-white gendered perspectives immaterial? How does the language that frames 2008 Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney and Vice Presidential Candidate Rosa Clemente’s radical political vision give Clinton and her supporters the “license” to dismiss their radical political agenda? Furthermore, how has the transnational and global backdrop further marginalized the importance of U.S. minority based struggles in the current moment and in many ways assisted Clinton and her supporters?
Through a discourse analysis of McKinney and Clemente's 2008 Green Party nomination acceptance speeches I argue that their radical political visions aim to “talk back” to discourses of American nationalism. By recentering their oppositional consciousness as a form of knowledge production in a "transnational" context, these Black women resist the notion that the US minority experience is passé, but rather embrace the transformative necessity that their oppositional politics call for in declining urban areas within the United States. In doing so, McKinney and Clemente highlight the ways that American politics and a number of feminist academics have welcomed the erasure of US minority based struggles for the "transnational." I identify this approach as a risky political maneuver that functions both for and against them as they attempt to make marginal populations within the US legible within national and transnational political discourses. Finally, I allude to the ways that these Black women transform oppositional knowledge production in a "transnational" context into an organized politics — a risky tactic of survival where only by risking ones livelihood thru "radical oppositional knowledge production," do their distinct "angle of vision" become realized.
Date posted: October 16, 2011