Women, Capitalism, and the State: Occupy Philly w/ Selma James

Part 6 of Occupy Philly Education and Training Working Group’s
Dissecting Capitalism series
(co-sponsored by Mariposa Food Co-op):

Women, Capitalism, and the State
with Selma James

selma james

Selma James is a women’s rights and antiracist campaigner and author. Raised in a movement household, she joined CLR James’s Johnson-Forest Tendency at age fifteen, and from 1958 to 1962, she worked with him in the movement for Caribbean federation and independence. In 1972, she founded the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and in 2000 she helped launch the Global Women’s Strike, which she coordinates. She coined the word “unwaged” to describe the caring work women do, and it has since entered the English language to describe all who work without wages, on the land, in the home, in the community, and more. In 1975 she became the first spokeswoman of the English Collective of Prostitutes. She is a founding member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (2008). Selma has addressed the power relations within the working class movement, and how to organize across sectors despite divisions of sex, race, and class, South and North. She spoke recently at Tent City University at Occupy London on “Why Anticapitalism?” to a packed audience.

Selma is in the United States on a speaking tour for the publication of her new book, “Sex, Race and Class – The Perspective of Winning: A Selection of Writings, 1952-2011” (PM Press, March 2012).

* * *

The Dissecting Capitalism series provides an introduction to capitalism, highlighting its historical, social, and political constructs as well as its systemic, global impact. Each session will feature speakers, open discussion, and for certain dates, short readings designed to facilitate participatory debate, dialogue, and popular education. We envision the series as forming a cohesive whole, and encourage participants to attend all ten sessions, if possible. The education series is free, as all education should be, but donations to West Philly’s collectively run LAVA (Lancaster Avenue Autonomous Zone; http://www.lavazone.org; 4134 Lancaster Ave Philadelphia, PA 19104), which is generously letting us use its space, are greatly appreciated.

The series’ themes and dates include:

Wed, Feb 1 at 7 p.m.
Part 1: What is Capitalism?
with George Caffentzis and Alex Knight

Wed, Feb 8 at 7 p.m.
Part 2: Financial Crisis
with Mark Kuperberg and Julie Maitrejean

Wed, Feb 15 at 7 p.m.
Part 3: The Historical Rise of Capitalism and Corporations
with Ariane Fischer and Jerry Krantman

Wed., Feb 22 at 7 p.m.
Part 4: Contemporary Labor and Workplace Struggles
with Salar Mohandesi and Sean West Wispy

Wed, Feb 29 at 7 p.m.
Part 5: Capitalism, Social Relations, and Power
with Ben Webster and Cindy Milstein

Wed, March 7 at 7 p.m.
Part 6: Women, Capitalism, and the State
with Selma James

Wed, March 14 at 7 p.m.
Part 7: Political Economy of the Environment
Amy Roe and E. Colin Ruggero

Wed, March 21 at 7 p.m.
Part 8: Capitalism and the State
Gabriel Rockhill and Avi Alpert

Wed, March 28 at 7 p.m.
Part 9: Capitalism and Racism
Josh Lukin and another presenter (to be announced soon)

Wed, April 4 at 7 p.m.
Part 10: Imagining a Postcapitalism (details will be announced)

Join us tonight!


US Unemployment Now Down to Where African-American Unemployment Was, Pre-Recession

via Jacob Kart

US Unemployment Now Down to Where African-American Unemployment Was, Pre-Recession

There’s been a lot of expectation management over the recent news that the U.S. unemployment rate has dropped from 8.7 percent to 8.5 percent. Alan Krueger noted that “[i]t is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007.” Many economists expect unemployment to increase if the economy picks up, because people who have drifted out of the labor force will start looking for work again, raising the unemployment rate. And as everyone recognizes, there’s still a terrible amount of suffering with unemployment as high as 8.5 percent — wasted capacity, wasted opportunities, and mass misery. Though things may be looking up, they are still quite painful.

One interesting thing to note is that the number in between 8.7 percent and 8.5 percent, a threshold the country just crossed, was the average unemployment rate for African Americans going into the recession. The rate from 2006-2007 for African American men and women over 16 was 8.6 percent. Let’s chart that out (click through for larger image):

Total African American unemployment is currently at 15.8 percent and has been hovering around 16 percent for three years now. All the other major employment health indicators are down as well. For instance, the employment-to-population ratio is down to 51 percent from 60 percent in 2001. Nearly half of all African Americans aren’t working.

The economy is terrible for all Americans right now and we desperately need action to both expand the economy and repeal attempts to contract it. But it is worth remembering that the unemployment misery all Americans are experiencing right now is equal to what it was like during the best two years of the 21st century for African Americans.

Cultural Appropriation – Repost “Oh Miss Canada”


(via John Federov)

Oh, (Miss) Canada.

So, apparently, Miss Universe Canada Chelsae Duroche decided it would be appropriate to wear a headdress for the “National Dress” portion of the competition. Her stereotypical stoic Indian pose is helpful too.

From what I can find, I don’t think Chelsae is Native. But honestly, that wouldn’t have mattered. That’s a straight-up costume shop headdress right there.

UPDATE: “Miss Canada considers her First Nations-inspired cocktail dress a work of art. Her official website describes it as “A Homage to Haida—Its People & Art.”” Dear Chelsae, Haida don’t wear headdresses like that.

The sad thing is, she had an opportunity to do something cool. Look at her dress (once she moved the cigar store Indian arms):

Her dress is a stylized Northwest Coast design (which, again, way to combine distinct cultures–Plains headdress with NW coast dress?). Here would have been an awesome opportunity to use a Native designer to make the dress, and showcase a part of Canada’s “culture” appropriately. Much like Ashley Callingbull (Miss Universe Canada 2010) did in a pageant a few years back, wearing a beautiful dress by Danita Strawberry:

and then another gorgeous dress by a Native designer, Angela DeMontigny:

But this controversy isn’t new. Back in 2008, Miss Universe Canada wore this delightful get-up:

um, yeah. Clearly a very culturally sensitive event.

But guys, can we PLEASE talk about what Miss USA wore?

What. The. Eff.