Re-Dream: My PBS Feature On The Amerikkkan (Day) Dream


 

 

The American Dream is an illusory promise that was made during the constitution, a contractual understanding of sorts, between land owning white men. It posited that if they worked hard, were good and decent folks, they would be able to be the masters of their own destiny (including that of the wive’s and children) without undue obstacles by the state. This promise depended upon the legal violence perpetuated by the state, usurping wealth and knowledge produced and birthed by black free and enslaved folks, women, Indigenous peoples, immigrants and impoverished whites. The myth was revamped under FDR to include poor whites and issued as an unfunded mandate to black Americans and other workers of color. LBJ made a small downpayment, that was more symbolic than reality-shifting, with the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action and a host of legal interventions. Regan, Nixon and Bill Clinton clawed back many-a-freedoms with mass-incarceration schemes, drug wars, the effective criminalization of blackness and queerness, let alone BlaQueerness, as well as the assault on poor people. Barack Obama is a mixed bag, whose contents remain unknown as of yet. Black folks, Queer folks, Folks of Color and Queer Folks of Color understand the American Dream is often a tylenol given to treat the symptoms of a capitalist, cisheterosexist, patriarchal, nativist, imperialistic, misogynoir, neoliberal, carceral state. This video is a sanitize version of this statement but it gets well to the point I’ve been making and it serves as a preamble to my book Godless Circumcisions: A Recollecting & Re-membering of Blackness, Queerness & Flows of Survivance.

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