Joke of the Day

Have you ever heard the joke about a cure for COVID?

It’s a riot!

P.S. I totally plagiarized it, sorry.

In Defense of Intersectionality

So you know how every time I say that mass immigration is not the bee’s knees, somebody brings up that I’m an immigrant and that I seem to be enjoying it a lot? Because obviously there can’t possibly be any difference between the immigration experience of a hyper-educated, multilingual, academically gifted person who emigrates for fun and the experience of somebody who is forced to migrate because of gang violence and poverty?

Noticing this difference is what in my job is called “intersectional analysis.” The term has gotten a bad rap because a bunch of Shakesville-type bloggers made it sound completely stupid but it refers to a useful skill.

When you are talking about “people of color,” do you mean people like Michelle Obama or the woman of color who cleans her toilets? By “women,” do you mean women like Ivanka Trump or like the sweet old lady we all saw on TV whose neighborhood was destroyed by looters leaving her with no grocery store for miles around?

Normal people don’t need to make a special effort to see these differences but academics really do. As all teachers, we have a strong narcissistic component and tend to see everything in terms of ourselves, our lives, our friends, and our experiences. It’s very useful to be able to step away from this unhealthy self-centeredness.

As an example, I’m quoting in my book a pair of academics who gush that the transformation of Central America into one huge borderland “opens up possibilities for reimagining our categories and creating new paradigms.” That there are people whose lives are being devastated by this process isn’t even noticed because, hey, there’s a reimagining of categories going on, step aside, you dumb proles.

Against this type of typically academic cluelessness an intersectional analysis is very helpful.

The reason I’m writing this is that my book on intersectional feminism and transnationalism will come out later this year and I don’t want people to dismiss it out of hand because the title sounds icky. Yes, it does sound icky. But the argument itself is actually good.

More on Branding Wars

A branding trick works if it gives people “the feels.” Obama was great at branding (if at little else). Remember the photo where the soles of his shoes had holes in them? Yes, totally staged, totally fake, but who cares? His audience swooned. Or remember the photo with the little black boy touching Obama’s hair? It’s an iconic, once in a lifetime image that will go into the textbooks. Again, it doesn’t matter that it’s staged. It made people put the image on their desktops as background because they liked how it made them feel.

Same with Trump’s walk through Lafayette Park last week. I’m not interested in partisanship right now. I’m discussing the matter strictly from the point of view of branding. Hope and change was a genius slogan. MAGA is complete branding genius “Feel the Bern” was genius, too.

Of course, politics is all about projecting an image and seeking photo-ops. So saying that what the Dem leaders did yesterday or Trump did in front of the church last week is a photo-op is kind of a pathetic statement. Obviously, it is. The only question here if it’s had an effect. Are the supporters (and mind you, this is addressed to those who already buy into the brand) feeling elated, excited, enthused about it? That’s the only thing that matters in branding. I’m no longer part of the left so I have no idea how the people there reacted to the Kente Kneelers. Did they get emotional? That’s all that matters. I’m not seeing why anybody would but I’m not the target audience any more.

I happen to be very curious about branding, and it’s interesting to me that many people have no idea how branding works or how powerful it is.