From an essay I’m working on today:
One question worth asking is what is the space between #RaceFail and #Ferguson? One important thing to note is that the time between them isn’t neutral, but rather one of development. The networked persistence of discussions of racism in life and culture (of which the stickiness of #RaceFail is a useful metonym) has allowed critical race theory to expand from the bounds of too-insular activist and academic subcultures and publics into a known apparatus and structure of the public sphere as a whole. The space between these two tags is one of time and growth and development—similar, also, to the space between 9/11 and the Boston bombings or the recent shootings on Parliament Hill in Canada. When innocents are killed it is always a tragedy. But when 9/11 happened, Western society snapped: racism poured out of the woodwork (where it was always already having major structural effects) and overwhelmed the critical voices and societal guilt-structures that kept it unevenly and incompletely in check. But in the subsequent events we had the apparatus of critical race discourse (forged on the fly from the frictions and fractures of that time) to bulwark and embolden our critical voices, intersectional analyses to ask also what roles poverty and mental health issues might have had in triggering these horrible events, and the sobering and dismal reality of the post-9/11 period to help us resist falling prey to the fear mongering of opportunistic and hawkish politicians. #Ferguson and its ilk are the legacy of earlier critical discussions and the earlier techno-social events that mobilize them, and collectively form an activist critical objection—a quarrel—levelled at unjust abuses of power.