chapter  5
32 Pages

#Damonsplaining and the unbearable whiteness of merit

ByJo Littler

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The rise in popular feminist and anti-racist activisms, combined with expanding publicity of the dramatic exclusions of the media industries, provided a very fertile context for the incident to be satirised. The hashtag #Damonsplaining began to trend on Twitter. This chapter considers neoliberal meritocracy's racialisation in a number of ways. First, drawing on David Theo Goldberg's work on the post-racial, it discusses the racialisation of merit as an abstract category; second, it considers these processes in relation to the ascribed merit of cultural products; third, it relates this incident to the racialised exclusions of cultural production in the media industries; and, finally, it analyses the viral status of this event. The chapter reads the Damonsplaining incident as both an arch example of a discourse of neoliberal post-racial meritocracy and also of its rupture. Positioning merit as having nothing to do with gender, race or class has a long history as a construction privileging wealthy white men.