North Texas Daily

Capitalism thrives on conformity

Capitalism thrives on conformity

Capitalism thrives on conformity
May 13
16:00 2022

The American Dream is an exclusionary fairy tale, one that proves that, in capitalism, whiteness sells. As a Black person, I know this all too well. As a Black transgender person, I could teach the course.   

The political connotations attached to minorities and marginalized bodies are things from which they cannot escape. Many minorities lack the marketability that comes with whiteness. Marketability is linked with relatability and professionalism, three independent but coinciding factors that uphold caucasian capitalist wealth. 

When you are a minority, your body is inherently politicized. As a Black transgender person, my body has its own political statement without a word from my mouth. My mere existence is controversial.

Intersectionality — how race, gender and sexuality compound to create varying frameworks of oppression or privilege — is a critical topic in understanding the exclusionary experience marginalized people face underneath capitalism. 

For instance, both the Black and transgender experience receive discrimination as they do not fit underneath the typical white framework. Both compound racism and transphobia make this world even harder to navigate.

These ideas of whiteness permeate the concept of professionalism as well. Professionalism in the workplace is a way to institute whiteness, starting in our school systems. 

It is the prohibition of natural Black hairstyles, the shunning of femininity in those assigned male at birth and the promotion of gender conformity through specific school uniforms.

As you cross more of these socially constructed ideas of professionalism, you will become less accepted in the workplace and by the general public.

The less accepted you are, the less relatable you are to the public, which upholds whiteness as the widely accepted social and professional normalcy. The less relatable you are, the less marketable you become to the white masses, continuing the self-serving cycle.

Those who succeed usually align themselves in at least one of the demographics of the “perfect” American: white-cis heterosexual and male. However, those who oppose all or most of those standards are less valued by the market.

Disempowered communities’ contributions to society aren’t utilized. Capitalism has always been built on the backs of minority labor, whether in the way we navigate and alter the English language or how our fashion is ghetto or savage — until it reaches the runways of white designers.

Capitalism benefits from disparaging and reprimanding minority culture until it can be packaged and sold with a white face behind it.

The nature of capitalism diminishes our humanity. It’s not cool until the rich and the white partake. The upcoming Elvis Presley biopic comes to mind: a white man who is considered the king of a genre Black men and women pioneered. 

Perhaps the larger picture here is how much capitalism loves the idea of appropriation. Though this term usually applies to racial culture, its concept can also be understood through the lens of sexuality and gender.

The dominant culture simultaneously demeans the minority group and exploits it. This vicious cycle forces minorities into the outskirts of society. Then, in the great twist of whiteness and capitalism, it weaponizes these situations that systematic racism, transphobia and homophobia have forced people into as a validation of why a group is less valuable or deserving of a role in society. 

The only successful way to protect marginalized individuals is to dismantle capitalism. It is inherently racist and white-centered. It focuses on individualistic success at the cost of the collective. It’s time we dream up new frameworks of success that don’t rely on the labor of those less privileged extorting themselves for the rich. It’s time we respect cultures, not turn them into profit while excluding the creators. 

It’s time we learn that people are not products. We can dismantle the ideas of worth that we place on people and their labor through the dismantling of capitalism. We can deconstruct what makes someone professional. We can leave behind the idea that alternative expressions of gender and sexuality are detrimental to our character. 

We can learn that we are all worth something.

Featured Illustration By Miranda Thomas

About Author

Lake Smith

Lake Smith

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