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Blue Lines, Shaded in Black and Brown: The Diallo Shooting, Race and Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  3 that the responsibility for the death lay with the victim, that the killing was an event only to be expected in the dangerous, quotidian war on crime. That the suggestion of Diallo’s guilt related to a matter of immigration is noteworthy. Race in America is such that men of color, both brown and black but especially the latter, stand suspect in the mainstream cultural imagination until proven innocent. The same can clearly be said for immigrants, and especially immigrants of color. In the midst of the primary election campaigns of 2007, I conducted research into electoral decision- making in a dying rural township in western Kansas. To my eye, the population was almost entirely white, the exceptions being two doctors from other lands assigned to community health facilities as they completed requirements for accreditation in the US. These physicians and their families were beloved; everyone hoped they’d settle in town when their two-year commitments were up. The two candidates voters were most seriously considering were Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama. The issue of Obama’s race was nowhere on their radar screen, for they only saw him as the one most likely to provide relief in the areas of life most afflicting them – necessary institutions such as hospitals, schools, and police departments were vanishing from their area at an alarming rate. Where racism did show up, however, was in the villagers’ class-crossed discourse about immigration. They complained nastily about people who spoke Spanish and little English. They rued an imagined influx of outsiders, a mini-version of which was occurring in meat-packing territory some miles

Authors: Roy, Beth.
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that the responsibility for the death lay with the victim, that the killing was 
an event only to be expected in the dangerous, quotidian war on crime. 
That the suggestion of Diallo’s guilt related to a matter of immigration 
is noteworthy. Race in America is such that men of color, both brown and 
black but especially the latter, stand suspect in the mainstream cultural 
imagination until proven innocent. The same can clearly be said for 
immigrants, and especially immigrants of color. In the midst of the primary 
election campaigns of 2007, I conducted research into electoral decision-
making in a dying rural township in western Kansas. To my eye, the 
population was almost entirely white, the exceptions being two doctors from 
other lands assigned to community health facilities as they completed 
requirements for accreditation in the US. These physicians and their families 
were beloved; everyone hoped they’d settle in town when their two-year 
commitments were up. The two candidates voters were most seriously 
considering were Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama. The issue of Obama’s 
race was nowhere on their radar screen, for they only saw him as the one 
most likely to provide relief in the areas of life most afflicting them – 
necessary institutions such as hospitals, schools, and police departments 
were vanishing from their area at an alarming rate.
Where racism did show up, however, was in the villagers’ class-crossed 
discourse about immigration. They complained nastily about people who 
spoke Spanish and little English. They rued an imagined influx of outsiders, a 
mini-version of which was occurring in meat-packing territory some miles 


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