Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mapping Racial Capitalism: Implications for Law


The theory of racial capitalism offers insights into the relationship between class and race, providing both a structural and a historical account of the ways in which the two are linked in the global economy. Law plays an important role in this. This article sketches what we believe are two key structural features of racial capitalism: profit-making and race-making for the purpose of accumulating wealth and power. We understand profit-making as the extraction of surplus value or profits through processes of exploitation, expropriation, and expulsion, which are grounded in a politics of race-making. We understand race-making as including racial stratification, racial segregation, and the creation of sacrifice zones, which reflect the strategies and outcomes of profit-making. The structural features of racial capitalism thus are mutually constitutive: profit-making processes create and reinforce the making of racial meaning, while race-making, underwritten by white supremacy, structures and facilitates the economic processes of profit-making. Together, they constitute a global system dependent on the unbridled extraction of wealth from both humans and nature.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View