Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice
Beyond the rhetoric of civil rights, At the center of contemporary struggles over aggressive policing practices is the association in US culture of Blackness with criminality. Rima L. Vesely-Flad examines the religious and philosophical constructs of the Black body in US society, exploring racialized ideas about purity and pollution as they have developed historically and as they are institutionalized today in racially disproportionate policing and mass incarceration. These systems work, she argues, to keeps supposedly threatening elements of society in a constant state of harassment and tension so that they are unable to pollute the morals of mainstream society. Policing establishes racialized boundaries between communities deemed "dangerous" and communities deemed "pure" and, along with prisons and reentry policies, sequesters and restrains the pollution of convicted "criminals," thus perpetuating the image of the threatening Black male criminal. Vesely-Flad shows how the anti-Stop-and-Frisk and the Black Lives Matter movements have confronted these systems by exposing unquestioned assumptions about Blackness and criminality. They hold the potential, she argues, to reverse the construal of "pollution" and invasion in America's urban cores if they extend their challenge to mass imprisonment and the barriers to reentry of convicted felons. Book jacket.