Tag Archives: neoliberalism

Danger Brown’s Potato Salad and Social Justice


One thing that really excites me about the world that we live in is the ridiculousness of the internet. The creativity it inspires and makes possible is always one step ahead of what we can currently imagine. There is simply no way that anyone could have imagined that less than one month ago, some dude from Ohio would raise over $40,000 for a project involving only him and increasing amounts of potato salad. Yes, you read that correctly – over forty-thousand actual U.S. Dollars for making potato salad (for the first time). You may be saying to yourself, but hey, I have been making potato salad for years and have never earned even a cent! Or you could be wondering if there is a new potato famine you somehow have not heard about. Or, perhaps, this guy is going to create some innovative method of making potato salad. No, the project is as simple as you know it to be – making potato salad.

It all began with a simply stated goal:

I’m making potato salad.

Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet. 

Twenty-two days later, the Potato Salad Kickstarter project  had attracted nearly five and a half thousand backers and a series of updated goals. The most recent is a “Big Stretch Goal” for those willing to donate $3000 to the project:

My kitchen is too small! I will rent out a party hall and invite the whole internet to the potato salad party (only $10 and above will be allowed in the kitchen)! The internet loves potato salad! Let’s show them that potato salad loves the internet!!

Rather than simply dismissing this as the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard of, I can’t help but pause for a critical moment. Don’t want to throw the potato-salad out with the Tupperware, now!
Danger Brown is some middle class white guy living in white bread middle America. This positionality gives him access to things like resources, and importantly, a knowledge (or even perhaps mastery) of internet communications and language. I actually found the project page to be hilarious, and has obviously created a sense of community amongst the backers, people who themselves are likely middle class people (I mean, they are willing to donate USD to this clearly satirical project and have the time and capacity to do so), and this is likely because of the comedic dexterity of Danger Brown. The backers essentially egg him on to create more crazy goals and potato-salad themed gifts for different levels of donation. So in this sense, of course, if any body on earth is going to create a kickstarter project for making potato salad and actually gain backers, you bet, its going to be a white and male body, that is probably also American.
The positionality of Danger Brown stands in stark relation to millions of people across the world who will not see that amount of money in a year, a decade, or even their working lives. And, the project is clearly not one of charity – Danger Brown will not be feeding potato salad to the homeless. And, we are living in a world where food scarcity is a real threat, yet where hipster “foodie” culture has developed in tandem with the iPhone Instagram app. “Passion for food” can only ever be a middle-class “hobby”. The Potato Salad Kickstarter Project speaks to the development of “food” pop culture, and the inequalities it highlights. Food is conceptualized as humorous, stylish, and photogenic, not an “essential need” for human life.
So, lets not dismiss Danger Brown’s Potato Salad as the dumbest fucking thing we have ever heard of. Let’s think about what this kind of phenomenon tells us about the state of our world. And, on the other hand, let it tell us something about the power of the internet to accomplish just about anything. As unfair and ridiculous the Potato Salad project is, it shows just how relatively simple it can be to gain support for one’s projects (at least on Kickstarter). It is unlikely that whatever you are thinking of right now is less mundane and ordinary than Danger Brown’s extra-ordinary Potato Salad.


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So, let me get this “straight”

Conservatives, are you really going to use the “states rights” argument to defend your anti-gay arguments?Most people who know half a cent about Slavery and the fight against it, remembers that confederate states used that very same argument to defend the enslavement of black people. But, I am not worried as much about conservatives as I am about the Western neoliberal agenda that has appropriated the discourse of Gay Rights in order to gain, and protect, power. In this post, I am exploring this argument alongside last weeks Supreme Court decisions, which invoked the history of the Civil Rights and Gay Rights movements. A loss for the former, a victory for the later. Image

In using the “states rights” argument, and thereby invoking a discourse which was used to defend the Confederate position that the legal status of Slavery should be determined by each state (and so should the legality of same-sex marriage today, they argue), conservatives remind us of the shared ideological substance that gives racism and heterosexism the same rancid taste, and same effects of creating centres and margins that privilege white people. Yet, as conservatives rail against homosexuality and gay rights as they did against the end of slavery and Civil Rights, it is becoming increasingly evident that at the same time, Western nations like the US are using the gay-rights movement to recreate old structures of colonial oppression. In order to join the club of empire, America MUST legalise same-sex marriage, lest they become an unwitting member of the so-called “uncivilised”.

The irony of the legislative moment last week, in which the Voters Rights Act of 1965 was gutted and the Defence of Marriage Act was voted unconstitutional in the Supreme Court is tragic for social justice.  “Colorblindness” as a new take on an old system of institutional racism has prevailed, legislating the ignore-ant belief that racism is dead – the black president, Hello!

Alongside this development, which will essentially allow voting districts to make voting more difficult for poor blacks and hispanics, has been the Constitutionalisation of same-sex marriage, making it illegal to restrict marriage to heterosexual unions. What does this mean, for social justice globally? For black Americans? for queer Americans? And for black queer Americans?

Recently, I read Roderick Ferguson and Grace Hong’s The Sexual and Racial Contradictions of Neoliberalism (2012) in which it is argued that the West has appropriated the gay rights agenda, using it as a new claim to moral superiority internationally. “How you treat your gays” has become the new prodding tool of Western cultural imperialism. One certainly grows suspicious when leaders of powerful Western nations begin to motivate for a cause previously considered “radical”. The use of the gay-rights agenda in this way by Western nations, according to Ferguson and Hong, has the effect of cutting through, and ignoring, post-colonial anti-racist struggles by instituting a new moral yardstick which will reposition the West as culturally and politically superior. This is a major point of interest in my PhD research  – I am currently registered in the Sociology department at the University of the Witwatersrand, and will be presenting my proposal in two weeks, so wish me luck!

This leads me back to my question, what does this mean for queer American black people? Especially those who struggle economically, and have been further marginalised within education and employment? The blackness of a black queer positionality and experience is further denied by the argument that America is “post-race” now (black president, again!), and polling practices which can make voting more difficult for black and latino communities as demonstrated and made possible by the Supreme Court ruling on the Voters Rights Act. So, now that gay people can marry, what does this mean for black queers who have been suffered anti-black racism, an ideology and system founded on heteropatriarchy? Now, a new side of a black queer experience and identity is recognised while the other is denied. If there are any black American queers out there who can tell me, I would love to know what you think and how you feel about this. And meanwhile, back at The Ranch, Paula Deene hopes that the Gay Marriage ruling “will somehow save her racist ass”!Image

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