Commodity Consumption and the Politics of the “Post-Racial”
This chapter highlights the work of consumption and acquisitive desire within struggles over race and racial equality, focusing on a comparative reading of two moments in time to reveal how racial ideologies shape discourses of commodity culture, as well as how commodity culture shapes the disciplinary mechanisms of the racial order. The first critical moment returns historically to calls in early black political discourse for a deliberate consumerist politics that promised deliverance into the fantasy of full-fledged democratic citizenship for African Americans. The second outlines contemporary proclamations of the black American Dream epitomized by the hyper-consumerist excesses of ghetto fabulous “bling.” These examples offer the means to interrogate critically the equivalences found circulating between black material ascendance and post-racial hegemonies of the neoliberal moment. They also help show how race matters within contemporary culture, and moreover, reveal openings within black commodity cultures themselves that disturb the reassuring appeal of the idea of the post-racial.
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