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Martinot / Sexton: The Avant Garde of White Supremacy

Martinot / Sexton: The Avant Garde of White Supremacy

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Published by jamesbliss0
Social Identities 9.2
Social Identities 9.2

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07/06/2013

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This article was downloaded by:
[Ingenta Content Distribution - Routledge] 
On:
23 March 2010 
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Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Social Identities
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713445719
The Avant-Garde of White Supremacy
Steve Martinot
a
;Jared Sexton
a
San Francisco State University University of California, Berkeley.
To cite this Article
Martinot, Steve andSexton, Jared(2003) 'The Avant-Garde of White Supremacy', Social Identities, 9: 2,169 — 181
To link to this Article: DOI:
10.1080/1350463032000101542
URL:
Full terms and conditions of use:http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdfThis article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
 
Social Identities, Volume 9, Number 2, 2003
The Avant-Garde of White Supremacy
STEVE MARTINOT and JARED SEXTON
San Francisco State University
and
University of California, Berkeley
If punishment could be provoked merely by the arbitrary actions of those who violate the law, then the law would be in their control: theywould be able to touch it and make it appear at will; they would bemasters of its shadow and light. That is why transgression endeavors tooverstep prohibition in an attempt to attract the law to itself — all itends up doing is reinforcing the law in its weakness. The law is theshadow toward which every gesture necessarily advances; it is itself the shadow of the advancing gesture.Michel Foucault (1989)
The Problem of White Supremacy (Exotic Theorisation)
In 1998,
Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex
, a nationalconference and strategy-session, reposed the question of the relations betweenwhite supremacy and state violence. Fascism was the concept often used to linkthese two terms and the prison industrial complex was considered to be itsquintessential practice. The political-intellectual discourse generated at andaround Critical Resistance shattered the narrow definitions of racism thatcharacterise many conventional (even leftist) accounts and produced instead aspace for rethinking radical alternatives.This sort of shift in the political landscape has been imperative for a longtime now. The police murder of Amadou Diallo comes to mind as an eventrequiring such re-conceptualisation. The Diallo killing was really plural since itinvolved other police murders as imminent in the same event. Diallo’s killingwas plural beyond his own many deaths in those few seconds, a killing thattook place in the eyes of his friends and family from as far away as Guinea. Inthe immediate wake of his killers’ acquittals, the New York Police Departmentmurdered Malcolm Ferguson, a community organiser who had been active inattempting to get justice for Diallo. (The police harassed Ferguson during thattime and arrested his brother on trumped up charges). Two weeks afterFerguson’s murder, the police killed Patrick Dorismund because he refused to buy drugs from an undercover cop, because he fought back when the copattacked. The police then harassed and attacked Dorismund’s funeral pro-cession in Brooklyn a week later, hospitalising several in attendance. (Thepolice took the vendetta all the way to the grave.) Tyisha Miller was murderedin her car in Riverside, California by four cops who knocked on the windowof her car and found that she simply didn’t respond. Angela Davis tells the
1350-4630 Print/1363-0296 On-line/03/020169-13
2003 Taylor & Francis LtdDOI: 10.1080/1350463032000101542
 D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ I n g e n t a  C o n t e n t  Di s t rib u ti o n  -  R o u tl ed g e]  A t : 05 :58 23  M a r ch 2010
 
170
Steve Martinot and Jared Sexton
story of ‘Tanya Haggerty in Chicago, whose cell phone was the potentialweapon that allowed police to justify her killing’, just as Daillo’s wallet was the‘gun’ at which four cops fired in unison. To the police, a wallet in the hand of  black man is a gun whereas that same wallet in the hand of a white man is justa wallet. A cell phone in the hands of a black woman is a gun; that same phonein a white woman’s hand is a cell phone.There were local movements in each of these cities to protest acts of policemurder and in each case the respective city governments were solicited to takeappropriate action. Under conventional definitions of the government, we seemto be restricted to calling upon it for protection from its own agents. But whatare we doing when we demonstrate against police brutality, and find ourselvestacitly calling upon the government to help us do so? These notions of the stateas the arbiter of justice and the police as the unaccountable arbiters of lethalviolence are two sides of the same coin. Narrow understandings of mere racismare proving themselves impoverished because they cannot see this fundamen-tal relationship. What is needed is the development of a radical critique of thestructure of the coin.There are two possibilities: first, police violence is a deviation from the rulesgoverning police procedures in general. Second, these various forms of viol-ence (e.g., racial profiling, street murders, terrorism) are the rule itself asstandard operating procedure. For instance, when the protest movements madepublic statements they expressed an understanding of police violence as therule of the day and not as a shocking exception. However, when it came timeto 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 tothe collective intuition about what the police were actually doing. The protestmovements’ readings of these events didn’t seem able to bridge the gap tothe programmatic. The language in which we articulate our analyses doesn’tseem to allow for alternatives in practice. Even those who take seriouslythe second possibility (violence as a rule) find that the language of alternativesand the terms of relevance are constantly dragged into the political dis-course they seek to oppose, namely, that the system works and is capable of reform.After the exposure of the Los Angeles Police Department’s videotaped beating of Rodney King, after the rebellions of 1992, police violence only became more rampant and more brazen across the country. After the ‘Justicefor Diallomovement in NYC, the police murders multiplied, and policearrogance increased. It was as if the anti-racist campaigns (or uprisings) againstpolice violence were co-opted by the police to augment their violence, ratherthan effectively closing it down as they had explicitly intended. In the wake of countless expose´s, the prison industrial complex has only expanded; thereportage on the racist operations of capital punishment and the legal systemmore generally have become absorbed in the acceleration of execution rates.Why do things get worse after each hard fought revelation? Where do welocate the genius of the system? Something is left out of the account; it runsthrough our fingers, escaping our grasp.
 D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ I n g e n t a  C o n t e n t  Di s t rib u ti o n  -  R o u tl ed g e]  A t : 05 :58 23  M a r ch 2010

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