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Lovable Racists, Magical Negroes, and White Messiahs$
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David Ikard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226492469

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226492773.001.0001

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Constituting the Crime: White Innocence as an Apparatus of Oppression

Constituting the Crime: White Innocence as an Apparatus of Oppression

(p.46) Two Constituting the Crime: White Innocence as an Apparatus of Oppression
Lovable Racists, Magical Negroes, and White Messiahs

David Ikard

University of Chicago Press

With an eye toward understanding the current utility and tenacity of the myth of white innocence, this chapter will examine several mediums, including news media, politics, and entertainment, that invoke or appropriate the myth with high frequency and, in many instances, with lethal consequence. I argue that the extant myth of white innocence functions on many levels to obscure the systemic ways in which white privilege and power are passed down from one generation to the next. As a direct result of this socially constructed myth of white innocence, white children (especially among the middle and upper classes) emerge as emotionally pure, ethically blameless and even angelic. To this end, the myth of white innocence functions like most discourses of dominant white power—namely, its sociopolitical viability depends on the absence-presence of othered black/brown childhood.

Keywords:   Myrlie Evers-Williams, myth of white innocence, David Sirota, Mae Mobley, The Association of Black Women Historians, segregation, Washington Redskins, The Help, The Green Mile, primitivism

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