Ethnicity, Race, & Migration and Political Science | Berkeley College

Spencer Shimek
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Senior Essay Title: "Worker Centers, Racial Capitalism, and the Social Wage: Tenant Organizing and Wage Theft Delegations at the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa"

Adviser: Daniel HoSang

Abstract: "In mainstream debates over the relationship between anti-racist and class politics, 'race' and 'class' are at times positioned as irreconcilable opposites. This tension reflects an analytical separation between white supremacy and capitalism. I attempt to intervene in this discussion by employing abolition geographer Ruth Wilson Gilmore's concept of anti-relationality, and by heeding the call of Afro-pessimist scholar Frank Wilderson III to 'think white supremacy as the base' comprised of terror rather than reducible to prejudice. Using a collection of internal newsletters and local articles, I center a case study of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa's years of work organizing low-wage workers, immigrants, and tenants to discuss the social wage, traditionally a policy framework, as a movement-building framework that organizers use to cohere their communities against anti-relational forms of racialized terror such as wage theft, deportation, and eviction. Gilmore's concept of anti-relationality allows us to think white supremacy as the base by thinking anti-relational relationships as targets of worker center organizing. In tearing racialized and colonized communities apart, anti-relational social relations can be imagined as mechanisms of racial terror, as the 'base' that Wilderson describes, and as the primary targets implied in an anti-racist social wage framework."