Trayvon, Postblackness, and the Postrace Dilemma

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Barack Obama, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2013-11-06 03:01Z by Steven

Trayvon, Postblackness, and the Postrace Dilemma

boundary 2: an international journal of literature and culture
Volume 40, Number 3 (Fall 2013)
pages 139-161
DOI: 10.1215/01903659-2367072

Richard Purcell, Assistant Professor of English
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

If President Barack Obama crystallizes the intersection of postrace and postblack idealism, nothing has exposed the fraught relationship between the two than the shooting death of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. What Trayvon Martin’s death has brought to the fore is what contemporary intellectuals are attempting to think when they think postblackness and, for that matter, postrace. What way of understanding race knowledge in our present does postblackness offer us, especially in a postrace era? The answer: both blindness and insight. Through a meditation on the relationship between Trayvon Martin, postrace, and postblackness, this essay aims to demonstrate this blindness and insight. On the one hand, postblackness has the potential to provide a bulwark against the persistent biologisms in contemporary race thinking. Yet, it is also used in our postrace era as a term to indulge in a weaker mode of criticism: debunking—a critical posture that has allowed critics to ignore and even circulate more insidious forms of race thinking.

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