Ruth Wilson Gilmore defines racism as “the state-sanctioned and/or legal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerabilities to premature death.”

Does this change the way you view racism or will talk about it?

@Natalie That would make the hatred of an individual no longer racism, as no government is involved. Therefore I find the definition, at the least, too narrow. At worst, it would not hold individuals responsible for their attiudes and statements.

@BasilDragonstrike I disagree, although I understand your perspective, I think. However, I believe that individual hatred can be/is state-sanctioned, state-created, and state-serving. Rather than removing responsibility from people, this definition acknowledges that "individuals" and "individual beliefs" are produced and created by complex social realities, and that internal anti-racism activity should/can never be entirely separate from wider social liberation.

@Natalie Government propaganda can certainly whip-up racism and other hatred-based isms, not all racism/sexism/etcism is created by governments, which Gilmore's definition denies. Individuals can change their behavior, and have done so.
To make governments the creator of individual behavior is the flip side of, and accepts and supports, the "bad guy" who blames her/his parents, neighborhood, "society", "Them", etc. for her/his actions.
No-one is an island, but neither are we automatons.

@BasilDragonstrike If I'm reading the def right, I think there's a distinction between "state" and "govt." I read this as being in conversation with earlier works (esp Althusser's ISA work) on how the state influences and creates subjects. It doesn't mean this subjecthood is impossible to recognize and respond to, but it also complicates the notion of "individual behavior." That being said, obv it's cool if the definition just doesn't work for you. Is there one you prefer?


@BasilDragonstrike Also, apologies if that's an obnoxiously obscure academic response. This is a difficult medium sometimes!

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