Deporting black radicalism: Claudia Jones’ deportation and policing blackness in the cold war

Issue: 
Spring 2020
Author(s): 

This article looks at the relationship between Claudia Jones, the pioneering black Marxist feminist, and the border regime of the United States. The article makes the case that Jones’ denial of citizenship, legal harassment, and later expulsion was not merely a product of the transgression of the restrictive Cold War limitation of freedom of speech but instead concretely related to her Blackness. Jones is placed as a key figure in challenging the economic determinism within party thought, placing emphasis on her as a trailblazer in position racial oppression as a form of racialised social control which transcended a purely economic basis. This was a form of social control that political and economic elites exploited to control working-class and minority populations and prevent working-class unity. Her involuntary border-crossing experiences are shown to reveal how anticommunism, white supremacy, and gender-based oppression cohered in post-war America, shaping Jones’ ideas which would challenge fellow communists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Twentieth Century Communism 18 cover