Doing Class in Critical Race Analysis in Education
Village Voice columnist Greg Tate, in his commentary on the lack of Black involvement in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, quotes one of the young Black men he spoke to, who told him, “I ain’t about to go get arrested with some muhfuhkuhs who just figured out yesterday that this shit ain’t right” (Tate, 2011). For Tate, this young man’s reluctance to participate in the nascent movement reflects a broader wariness among African Americans about social analyses and political action which seemingly have little to say-at least explicitly-about race and racism. Implicit in this critique is a sense that White people are just beginning to resist state policies, corporate interests, and hegemonic cultural-ideological logics that have long wreaked havoc in Black communities. The problem, as these skeptical observers see it, is that, in reframing the debate solely in terms of class, in which the so-called 99 percent stand in solidarity against the abuses of the economically elite 1 percent, supporters of the OWS movement collapse the 99 percent in ways that ignore differential access to economic and political resources, delegitimize race-based appeals for social redress, privilege the interests and voices of those (middle-class Whites) most recently hurt by inequitable policies and practices, and problematically posit class dominance as more disastrous, more explanatory, and more material than racial dominance.