Thread re: #Kenosha

Vigilante and state violence have always worked hand-in-hand, buttressing each other in the maintenance of white supremacy.

One of the worst times of violence in the US took place in the Deep South in the decades leading up to the Civil War. /1
Complicating slaveholders' ability to control the region was the impracticability of segregation. Poor whites & Blacks (enslaved & free) not only drank, socialized, & slept together, /2
but because they were shut out of the formal economy they also created an entire underground economy in which they traded liquor, food, and services.

The racial ambiguity of growing numbers of southerners only exacerbated the situation. /3
Certainly by the 1840s and 1850s, generations of interracial sex had produced an entire class of people who were difficult to immediately categorize as either white or black.
With the prevalence of slave hiring, the presence of free blacks, and the darkened skin of poor whites who generally labored in the hot southern sun, the region’s racial hierarchy was becoming unwieldy and unenforceable. /5
Lines separating the supposedly dialectic categories of black and white, slave & free, were gradually becoming blurred and in some cases even indistinguishable. Slave owners truly did not know what to do.

As segregation became more difficult for the master class to maintain, /6
southern laws placed increasingly strict behavioral regulations on sex, drinking, gambling, and other social interactions, further monitoring poor whites and blacks in an attempt to keep them separated. /7
Yet the criminal justice system alone could not keep one of the world’s largest slave systems running efficiently. Instead, the master class needed a total system—of policing, surveilling, and torturing poor people. /8
The maintenance of the Deep South’s slave societies required the constant threat of bloodshed. Policing both groups, slaveholders set up a three-tier “punishment” system that effectively prevented riot and rebellion. /9
First, as independent, individual citizens, masters and overseers privately whipped the underclasses.

Second, slaveholders used the criminal justice system to incarcerate and brutalize individuals for debt and non-violent behaviors they deemed illegal. /10
Finally, affluent whites established an intricate system of vigilante brutality—complete with slave patrols, vigilance committees, and minutemen groups—to buttress the other systems and ensure that the masses were rendered either powerless or terrified. /11
To truly understand socio-political control, therefore, we need to stop focusing solely on the legal system and instead recognize that these three methods of violence were and ARE all interrelated. /12
Slaveholders so nearly perfected this system that even after emancipation they employed this triumvirate of violence once again to reestablish control over the region - /13
& to this day local law enforcement continue to work both WITH and FOR vigilante white supremacists & "militia" groups.

Until we start conceptualizing white supremacy as a TOTAL SYSTEM of interrelated, interdependent parts, we will never be able to kill its roots.

Please also see this amazing thread by my colleague and friend @wihorne on the same themes:
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