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"The Banality of Murder for the Structures of Racialization" - a talk by Steve Martinot

Sunday, May 20, 2012
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Event Type:
Niebyl-Proctor Library, Oakland, CA
Location Details:
Niebyl-Proctor Library
6501 Telegarph Ave.
(1 block north of Alcatraz Ave.)
Oakland, CA


"The Banality of Murder for the Structures of Racialization"

- by Steve Martinot

A look at what lies beneath the surface, and connects the murders of Trayvon Martin, Troy Davis, Oscar Grant, Gary King, Amadou Diallo, Ramarley Graham, and others -- and now Alan Blueford (last Saturday night)

This talk will examine some of the recent killings of black men by white men with guns at a number of levels. First, there will be an examination of the tacit approbation, almost a stamp of legitimacy, given each by the white power structure. This runs like a unifying thread through these instances. Second, a sense of intentional focus of the killer in each case can be described by comparing these crimes against this thread as a background, which connects them. Third, when seen against that common background, the totality of those acts reveals a cultural structure, a racialized structure of violence. It points beyond the ideology of white supremacy to more general components of a culture of whiteness that governs processes of social racialization. Fourth, there is a grammar of race that is revealed by this, which underlies white supremacy and white racialized identity. When put together, we begin to see the contours of a cultural structure of racialization. But we also see which social institutions can be attacked by a pro-democracy movement to dismantle white supremacy and relegate it to the museums.

In short, between white identity and these acts of murder, there is a cultural structure which we can discern, beyond the prosaic aspects of what are called racism or discrimination, and which given cultural authorization to institutional racism and segregation from deep beneath the political processes of this country. That is, if race is a social construct, a description of the structure constructed is necessary, first, in order to understand the irresolvability of the issue when addressed in terms of its prosaic aspects (which has a long history), and second, to be able to become proactive against it, to win a real democracy from its hold on the land, instead of simply reacting to it.


Steve Martinot is author of:

"The Machinery of Whiteness: Studies in the Structure of Racialization"


"The Rule of Racialization: Class, Identity, Governance"

(see for description and reviews)
Added to the calendar on Thu, May 17, 2012 3:13PM
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