Wednesday, April 23, 2014
To return historicity to race is to understand it as a production of bodily (not biological) difference at the nexus of violence and sexuality; where the heuristic (pertains to the use of the general knowledge gained by experience) difference between the latter terms is often difficult to retain at the level of experience. That is to say, racial difference issues from direct relations of force—the scales of coercion—and it is only elaborated or institutionalized within relations of power—the scales of consent. What establishes race, what positions one within racial formation, is the relation one suffers and/or enjoys with respect to the state-sponsored social organization of violence and sexuality.
Jared Sexton, Amalgamation Schemes
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Black Figure, 1948. Lithograph on wove paper.
Conceptions of the multiracial cannot help but imply a production of race in the field of heterosexuality, nominating, more specifically, the reproductive sex act as the principal site of mediation for racial difference itself. In this respect, not only does multiracialism conceptually retain a pernicious system of racial breeding, a system that announces reproduction as the alibi for a more comprehensive regulation of sexuality, it also elides the politics of sexuality — its social production — especially with respect to processes of racialization. The latter is accomplished, in circular fashion, by presumptively confining the range of (interracial) sexual practices and the vicissitudes of (interracial) desire to a normative heterosexual frame, an interpretive gesture structurally required by the disavowed recourse to race-as-biological that notions of the multiracial put into play. In short, to the extent that one thinks of race as biological (e.g., genotype, phenotype), one thinks of race mixture in heteronormative and reproductivist terms. Put slightly differently, insofar as a figure of mixed race forms the backdrop for thinking interracial sexuality, the erasure of sexual encounter beyond or outside the heterosexual matrix is a fait accompli. Dislodging biological notions of race becomes, then, a condition of possibility for the queering of interracial sexuality, including its disarticulation from the specter of miscegenation.
Jared Sexton, Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (via gemeinwesen)
If ethics is possible for white civil society within its social discourses, it is rendered irrelevant to the systematic violence deployed against the outside precisely because it is ignorable. Indeed, that ignorability becomes the condition of possibility for the ethical coherence of the inside. The dichotomy between a white ethical dimension and its irrelevance to the violence of police profiling is the very structure of racialisation today. It is a twin structure, a regime of violence that operates in two registers, terror and seduction into the fraudulent ethics of social order; a double economy of terror, structured by a ritual of incessant performance. And into the gap between them, common sense, which cannot account for the double register of twin structure of this ritual, disappears into incomprehensibility. The language of common sense, through which we bespeak our social world in the most common way, leaves us speechless before the enormity of the usual, of the business of civil procedures.
Jared Sexton, The Avant-Garde of White Supremacy (via gemeinwesen)
Every analysis that attempts to account for the vicissitudes of racial rule and the machinations of the racial state without centering black existence within its framework— which does not mean simply listing it among a chain of equivalents— is doomed to miss what is essential about the situation, because what happens to blacks indicates the truth (rather than the totality) of the system, its social symptom, and all other positions can (only) be understood from this angle of vision. More important for present purposes, every attempt to defend the rights and liberties of the latest victims of racial profiling will inevitably fail to make substantial gains insofar as it forfeits or sidelines the fate of blacks, the prototypical targets of this nefarious police practice and the juridical infrastructure built up around it. Without blacks on board, the only viable option, the only effective defense against the crossfire will entail forging greater alliances with an antiblack civil society and capitulating further to the magnification of state power— a bid that carries its own indelible costs, its own pains and pleasures.
Jared Sexton, Racial Profiling and the Societies of Control (2007) p. 212 (in Joy James ed. Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing and Prison in a Penal Democracy)
[T]he native-born black population in the United States—known in the historic instance as “the descendants of slaves”—suffers the status of being neither the native nor the foreigner, neither the colonizer nor the colonized. The nativity of the slave is not inscribed elsewhere in some other (even subordinated) jurisdiction, but rather nowhere at all.
Jared Sexton, People of Color Blindness (via mecherabbit)
Under conventional definitions of the government, we seem to be restricted to calling upon it for protection from its own agents. But what are we doing when we demonstrate against police brutality, and find ourselves tacitly calling upon the government to help us do so? These notions of the state as the arbiter of justice and the police as the unaccountable arbiters of lethal violence are two sides of the same coin. Narrow understandings of mere racism are proving themselves impoverished because they cannot see this fundamental relationship. What is needed is the development of a radical critique of the structure of the coin. There are two possibilities: first, police violence is a deviation from the rules governing police procedures in general. Second, these various forms of violence (e.g., racial profiling, street murders, terrorism) are the rule itself as standard operation procedure. For instance, when the protest movements made public statements they expressed an understanding of police violence as the rule of the day and not as a shocking exception. However, when it came time to formulate practical proposals to change the fundamental nature of policing, all they could come up with concretely were more oversight committees, litigation, and civilian review boards (“with teeth”), none of which lived up to the collective intuition about what the police were actually doing. The protest movements’ readings of these events didn’t seem able to bridge the gap to the programmatic. The language in which we articulate our analyses doesn’t seem to allow for alternatives in practice. Even those who take seriously the second possibility (violence as a rule) find that the language of alternatives and the terms of relevance are constantly dragged into the political discourse they seek to oppose, namely, that the system works and is capable of reform.
"The Avant-garde of White Supremacy" by Steve Martinot and Jared Sexton (via rs620)
In pursuing this question, consider the following provocation by another noted legal scholar, Mari Matsuda (2002), offered at a 1997 symposium on critical race theory at the Yale Law School:
'When we say we need to move beyond Black and white, this is what a whole lot of people say or feel or think: ‘Thank goodness we can get off that paradigm, because those Black people made me feel so uncomfortable. I know all about Blacks, but I really don’t know anything about Asians, and while we’re deconstructing that Black-white paradigm, we also need to reconsider the category of race altogether, since race, as you know, is a constructed category, and thank god I don’t have to take those angry black people seriously anymore’ (Matsuda 2002: 395).'
Jared Sexton, Proprieties of Coalition: Blacks, Asians, and the Politics of Policing [http://crs.sagepub.com/content/36/1/87] (via baritonepats)