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Racial Capitalism: Race, Class & the Black Radical

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

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Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
System Requirements:

You will need a reliable Internet connection as well as a computer or device with which you can access your virtual class. We recommend you arrive to class 5-10 minutes early to ensure you're able to set up your device and connection.

Class Delivery:

This class will be held via Zoom unless otherwise specified.

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this lecture class:

Racial Capitalism: Race, Class, and the Black Radical Tradition

“Racial capitalism” is a concept that has become central to contemporary radical movements, from Black Lives Matter to the prison abolition movement to movements against state violence and for climate justice. The concept was first developed by Cedric Robinson in his monumental Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, where he argues that “the development, organization, and expansion of capitalist society pursued essentially racial directions.” For Robinson, capitalism and racism evolved together and thus must be understood as inseparable from each other. Why, even at its origins, was capitalism racialized? And how, in racial capitalism, are we to understand race, class, identity, and exploitation?

In this course, we will take seriously the challenge of thinking through Robinson’s concept of racial capitalism in all of its complexity. The class will be centered in a close reading of Black Marxism, alongside selections from thinkers in the Black Radical Tradition, including Oliver Cox, W. E. B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, C. L. R. James, and Richard Wright. Students will also examine contemporary scholars and activists who have carried forward the analysis of racial capitalism (including challenging and supplementing Robinson’s general failure to consider the intersections of gender and sexuality with race and class), including Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Joy James, Walter Johnson, Robin Kelley, Fred Moten, Noel Ignatiev, Donna Murch, and Robyn Spencer, as well as the collection Futures of Black Radicalism. 

We will conclude by looking at recent debates regarding the relationship between Marxism and intersectionality. How do the histories of global capitalism and global racism intersect? How do anti-capitalist and anti-racist theory and practice align (or fail to align)? What is the relationship between intersectionalist feminism and theorizations of racial capitalism? Does capitalism need racism—or, as Nancy Fraser’s asked in a recent essay, “Is Capitalism Necessarily Racist?”—and does racism need capitalism? How does studying racial capitalism help us better understand race, capital, and the contemporary world?

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

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Refund Policy

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (27)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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