“Bizarre Dissonances in Baltimore”: Class and Race in the Color-blind Discourses of Police Violence

Michael Buozis

Abstract


Mainstream reporting on the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore police in 2015, like much contemporary public discourse in the era of color-blind racism, often considered the issue of race only indirectly—in this case, through the discursive substitution of issues of class. By focusing on journalistic representations of the police officers, the protestors, and Gray himself, as well as other symbols of race and class in the reporting, this study unravels the discursive strategies which mask or make sensible the racialized practices of policing and government. Class and race are posed in opposition to one another in these discourses in ways that obscure how these categories are co-constituted and interrelated. Particularly key to this analysis is the police union’s claim to the discursive territory of class and labor in cases like these, where a broader application of class critiques would better help the public understand the structural interlinkage between class and race in American society and criminal justice.

Keywords


Race; Class; Policing; Freddie Gray; Journalism

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