Last September 14, US congresswoman Alexandra Ocaso-Cortez was in the news for her appearance at one of the biggest fashion events in the world wearing a dress with the words “Tax the Rich”, which in free translation means “Tax the rich” .
Alexandra drew attention in 2018 when she was elected, at the age of 28, the youngest deputy in the history of the United States. The daughter of a Puerto Rican maid with a New Yorker, Ocaso-Cortez, before being elected, even worked as a waitress and clerk. The year 2016 marked his involvement with institutional politics, when he campaigned for Bernie Sanders, in the Democratic Party primaries, for the presidential race. In the committee set up by Alexandra circulated members of groups such as the Black Lives Matter, community leaders, trade unionists, environmentalists, feminists, LGBT activists and social democrats.
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It’s not the first time that Alexandra is on the agenda because of her costumes. In the same week that the congresswoman commented that she could not afford to move to Washington to exercise her term, journalist Eddie Scarry, from the conservative newspaper Washington Examiner, tweeted: “I’ll tell you something: this blazer and this jacket are not from people who fight”.
To English newspaper columnist The Guardian, Arwa Mahdawi, “Conservatives don’t really care what Ocasio-Cortez is wearing. They care that she is so comfortable in her own skin. This terrifies them, and rightly so. She represents the changing face of America, a new generation of diverse American women who will wear what they like and say what they like. And that will let people like Scarry [o do Twitter] shaking at the base.”
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Ocaso-Cortez can be considered an ally of the anti-capitalist movements, but with low organicity in these movements, which places it in a field of dispute for greater engagement on the left. Her intervention in the New York fashion event was built with Aurora James, a black immigrant designer, with a focus on sustainable fashion and the creator of the “15% commitment” tax support campaign for businesses of black people. According to the congresswoman, the dress was loaned and her going to the event is part of her parliamentary commitments, having not paid the 35 thousand dollar ticket to enter.
The outside of the event was marked by police repression of protesters from the Black Lives Matter. One of the arrested protesters, identified as Ella, spoke: “We cannot go back to normal. Where was your anger last year? Thirty-five thousand dollars for a ticket to show off your fucking clothes while our people are still dying! Our people are still dying! Our people are still being murdered! And there are millions of dollars going to this museum. We require free housing! We demand that all political prisoners be released! We demand justice for our people!”.
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The relationship between fashion and politics cannot be ignored. The debate about Alexandra’s strategy is open, as well as the strategies of social movements in the dialogue with events of great repercussion. The fact that protests organized outside the big fashion event were ignored by the international media speaks of the radical nature of the protests’ content and the radical nature of organizing collectively around the working class project. It is up to these actors in the political struggle to bring more and more allies and allies, to press towards the taxation of large fortunes and more, the allocation of these resources and regulation of transnational corporations and their excesses.
*Elisa Maria is a Master in Justice and Human Rights in Latin America from UFPE and a militant of the World March of Women (MMM)
**This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the newspaper’s editorial line.
Source: BoF Pernambuco
Edition: Vanessa Gonzaga