Because in brutally murdering George Floyd, he was merely fulfilling the purpose of the institution he served: the police.
It is time we recognize 2 dangerous trends in this business of corporate diversity. First, that the language of diversity, masquerading as anti-racism, has become completely unmoored from social meaning; and second, because it is so, women and people of color are now hired as purveyors of violence to shield the system from criticism.
Black legal scholar Cheryl Harris2Cheryl I. Harris, “Whiteness as property,” in Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, edited by Kimberlé Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas (New York: New Press, 1995); see also Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s use of the term in her recent book Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2019). uses the phrase predatory inclusion to describe how Black families are ensnared by predatory mortgages in the name of economic inclusion and sharing.
I want to repurpose that concept, predatory inclusion, to refer to all the women and people of color “elevated” to positions of power, in the highest levels of government, banks, universities, and corporations. It is a means to refract from any criticism and direct attention to the empty form of representation. It is also a way for the system to launder its violence.
Two years ago, Cinzia Arruzza, Nancy Fraser, and I published a manifesto in which we argued that the language and politics of feminism had to be wrested from Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton blessed-feminism and reanimated with the power of feminist strikes and occupations. We pointed out that it mattered not to women and men of the global South that the bomb or debt peonage headed their way was designed or unleashed by a woman. It is just as important today to rescue the politics of antiracist street fighting from a rainbow capitalism that seeks to tame it by either obscuring elite women’s role in mass incarceration, or else crowing that a person of color heads one of the most vicious immigration regimes of our times.
An instructive example of capitalism’s strategy is from Puerto Rico. During the 2010-11 militant students’ strike against privatization at the University of Puerto Rico, the University contracted a private security firm, Capitol Security, for $1.5 million to break the strike. The firm hired young men and women from Villa Cañona in Loíza, a predominantly Black and low-income neighborhood in a predominantly Black and low-income municipality, to tear down university gates and act as paid strike breakers.