Assignment

“Real” or “authentic” politics are usually defined with some organization or institution that define itself as political and the practice of its politics at times consist of traditional acts such as picket lines, sit-ins, strikes, protests, letter writing, etc.

But what if a person does not have the time to join these organizations or join in a strike or protest, are they not political? Or what if a person is battling the same concerns or issues as an organization but they either cannot or do not believe in expressing their politics the same way the organization has instructed or defined to do so.

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Is this person then not political or practicing “authentic” politics?

No. This is too narrow of a way to think of political action. By emphasizing only specific practices such voting, picket lines, sit-ins, strikes as authentic political practice, it ignores cultural practices that people have used to resist oppression or injustice. One way to open up the notion of “authentic” politics is to include cultural practices such as music, blogging, fashion, dance, poetry, tagging as political activity. By doing so, it can offer a person a way to express their political beliefs/social critiques and question the rules and norms that govern our society in a way that is familiar and accessible to them on a daily basis. We’d miss a lot if we only look at the overt, political action and ignore the covert (symbolic) political actions in culture especially if one lacks access to an organized form of political expression.

How was the Zoot Suit representative of political resistance through cultural performance/practice? What were the Zoot Suiters resisting? Why would they turn to fashion as a political activity?

Think about the following in answering these questions:

Think of the wartime context in terms of the rationing of products such as cloth, the draft and patriotism

Think about how fashion is performing identity

Think about the generational politics between parents and children

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