So, in line with the subtitle of the text, this piece examines how innocence is employed with regards to race, gender, and the politics of safety (in particular, ‘safe spaces’).
I’ve read this text a few times over the years and like it quite a lot for how it identifies innocence as a category that traps us within a liberal paradigm by invisibilising structural violence and effectively designating a group ‘the guilty’ who are as a result somehow deserving of structural violence. “A politics of innocence is only capable of acknowledging examples of direct, individualized acts of racist violence while obscuring the racism of a putatively color blind liberalism that operates on a structural level”
An example of the innocence paradigm working:
Ultimately, our appeals to innocence demarcate who is killable and rapable, even if we are trying to strategically use such appeals to protest violence committed against one of our comrades.
When a woman is raped, her sexual past is inevitably used against her, and chastity is used to gauge the validity of a woman’s claim. “Promiscuous” women, sex workers, women of color, women experiencing homelessness, and addicts are not seen as legitimate victims of rape.
And most importantly her highlighting how innocence is related to a dependency on the state:
When we rely on appeals to innocence, we foreclose a form of resistance that is outside the limits of law, and instead ally ourselves with the State.
As usual, I've made new comments for individual conversation threads. Feel free to do the same, or to continue a thread!
(Sorry I’ve been slow to deliver on this, hopefully it makes little difference to anyone. My life is not what it was.)