Tag Archives: color-blind racism

Violence and Local Memory: Effects on the Middle

By Amy Kate Bailey

Framing black men as violent and predatory has been a constant in American race relations.  During the lynching era, this characterization was typically rooted in assertions of genetic difference between the races, and these stereotypes were used to justify many lynchings.  Tropes such as the “black brute” or “dark fiend” were repeatedly invoked in public discourse, particularly the Southern media.  The cry to “protect our women” propelled many to join the white supremacist organizations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  To be perfectly clear, lynching was a relatively rare event, with most Southern counties experiencing no lynchings, or only a single lynching, across the entire half century many scholars acknowledge as the “lynching era.”  The practice of lynching itself was abhorred by many white Americans, while they simultaneously joined supremacist groups and evinced faith in the threat that black people (men, in particular) posed to the white community.  Lynching culture was widely diffused within American society—both North and South.  Lynching events occurred within local communities.  This duality of the extremist behavior of a few married with cultural and institutional practices that brutalize specific black bodies, and the black community at large, continues to mark American society. Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Racist and Racial Justice Movements

Organizations for Racial Justice

By Jenny Irons

I recently moved back to the South after a 17-year absence. Someone asked me why I would return to this place, to come back after being away for so long. The mess, I said. It’s motivating. I meant the mess of extreme inequality—of race, of gender, of sexuality, of class, of nationality.  It’s hard to be purely academic about such matters when you’re not ensconced in an ivory tower atop a lovely rolling hill in the Northeast. Yes, racism exists everywhere; as last month’s posts tell us, it thrives in “free spaces” and sneakily deploys itself all over the country. But the racial inequality in the South is particularly stark and visible, and it has very deep roots. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Racist and Racial Justice Movements

Action, Inaction, and “Color-blindness”

By Kim Ebert

The killing of Trayvon Martin and subsequent trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman offers valuable insight into the operations of color-blind racial ideology and the way color-blindness sustains white privilege even in the absence of any formal, organized movements openly dedicated to maintaining whites’ status as the dominant group. Indeed, while the events surrounding the Martin shooting sparked outrage and mobilized protests among the African-American community, it is telling that they did not inspire any sort of meaningful collective action among those (primarily non-blacks) who were sympathetic to Zimmerman’s cause. This is not to say the events were greeted entirely with indifference among Zimmerman’s supporters, but they mostly did not see the shooting and trial as occasions around which to organize and rally. Instead, many viewed the entire episode as a legal process centering on fundamental individual rights—in this case, the right to defend oneself and the right to bear arms—rather than issues of race. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Racist and Racial Justice Movements

Racist Movements without Racists?

By Peter Owens

A recent New York Times article captures a disturbing, yet increasingly common, practice in the contemporary American white power movement: the secretive taking over of ostensibly marginal and largely white communities or buying up of marginal land in order to transform them into strongholds of white racist organizing. Most disturbingly, many of the residents of this small North Dakota town were unaware that such a process was unfolding underneath their feet until they were alerted by the Southern Poverty Law Center! Such strategies reflect the importance of creating various covert “free spaces,” as Simi and Futrell have noted, in which movement adherents are able to openly socialize with each other and profess their beliefs. In the case of contemporary white racist movements, the cultivation of these free spaces, often referred to within the movement as “pioneer little Europes” (PLEs), is a significant objective of their activism. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Racist and Racial Justice Movements