PAMELA BROWN /// Debt and Race in American Capitalism


For this podcast, I asked questions to Pamela Brown about the role of debt in American society and the way its very function has been historically affecting, and continues to affect the African-American community in particular. Debt should normally be understood as a mutually beneficial contract but has been transformed into yet another capitalist apparatus of profit making. It functions through an ideology of promise that ensures the conformity of life paths and the perpetuation in the future of the roles in the present society. Once the mechanisms that intertwines debt and race have been exposed, Pamela describes the work she has been contributing at Occupy Wall Street, as well as the issues that emerged from the racial issues that were still operating within the movement.

Pamela Brown is an activist, writer and scholar living in New York City. She is a columnist for Tidal Magazine, board member of the Brecht Forum, and on the national leadership team of the US Social Forum. Pam was a founding member of the Occupy Student Debt Campaign and Strike Debt. She has been involved in campaigns and writing projects including the student debt pledge of refusal, the Debt Resistors Operations Manual, the Rolling Jubilee, and Shouldering the Costs.  She holds her undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Dartmouth College, a Master of Arts in Media Studies from The New School, and is currently a doctoral student in Sociology at The New School for Social Research.



Fannie Mae
Sallie Mae
Fair Housing Act
G.I. Bill (Servicemen Readjustment Act)


– Maurizio Lazzarato, The Making of the Indebted Man, Semiotext(e), 2012
– Miranda Joseph, Debt to Society: Accounting for Life Under Capitalism (forthcoming )
– Joe Feagin, The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing, Routledge, 2009.