La Salle University’s Explorer Café #42: “What Does White Supremacy Look Like Today?”

I was very pleased and honored to facilitate this week’s Explorer Café at La Salle University, titled: “What Does White Supremacy Look Like Today?” The event itself was not recorded, but the presentation is available through the Connelly Library’s Digital Commons, “an institutional repository (IR), a digital showcase for La Salle research, scholarly projects, creative work, and institutional history.” The abstract follows below, but you can view the presentation and a full Works Cited (& Suggested) by following this link and clicking the “DOWNLOAD” button.

ABSTRACT: The introductory slides provide a framing definition: “White supremacy is believing not only that white people are superior based on their skin color, but that they have the right to rule over other people.” Additional concepts that help frame the presentation include “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy,” “racialization,” and “colonial ideology.” The presentation then provides an overview of U.S. legal and penal statutes, starting in 18th century Massachusetts, moving through 18th and 19th century federal “fugitive slave” laws, the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of Jim Crow, the 20th century militarization of police force, and the discrepancy between crack and powder cocaine sentencing. This overview is not meant as a complete review, but as a testament to the idea that ideology inculcates policy, such that intentional racism gives way to comprehensive and structural racism. The focus then turns to literary examples of what has been construed as white supremacist ideology, highlighting both a tradition of intraracial “colorism,” and further illustrated by examples from contemporary poetry and poetics, including discourse about a poem by Tony Hoagland, Kenneth Goldsmith’s “performance” of Michael Brown’s autopsy, and Vanessa Place’s verbatim tweeting of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.


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