Beneath the Surface of White Supremacy
Denaturalizing U.S. Racisms Past and Present
Moon-Kie Jung




But this cowardice, this necessity of justifying a totally false identity and of justifying what must be called a genocidal history, has placed everyone now living into the hands of the most ignorant and powerful people the world has ever seen. And how did they get that way? By deciding that they were white. By opting for safety instead of life. By persuading themselves that a black child’s life meant nothing compared with a white child’s life.

—James Baldwin, “On Being White . . . and Other Lies”


On a cold, drizzly morning in the fall of 2009, Kiwane Carrington woke up at the home of his longtime friend I. Thomas. The house, a modest rental, sat on the southern edge of a predominantly Black area on the north side of Champaign, Illinois, not far, but far removed, from the university on the city’s east side.1 Carrington had been staying there for a few weeks by then, as he had for much of the prior summer. With the Thomases, the fifteen-year-old, who had lost his mother to pancreatic cancer the year before, found a home away from home. Both I.T.’s mother, Deborah Thomas, and her boyfriend would later describe him as “like a son.”

On October 9, a Friday, Ms. Thomas, a student at the local community college, had left early for a seven o’clock English class. In the next hour and a half, fifteen-year-old I.T., her oldest, and her three younger kids made their way to school. When Ms. Thomas returned home, she saw Carrington in the kitchen, fixing himself breakfast, and briefly chatted with him; he attended a different high school than I.T. and did not need to be there until ten. Sometime while she and her boyfriend were in their room, Carrington departed. By noon, the house was empty, with Ms. Thomas gone to her psychology class and her boyfriend to work at Wendy’s.2

By a little after one o’clock, Carrington, along with one of his best friends, J.M., was back at the Thomas residence. They might have looked for an open door or window; Ms. Thomas disapproved but was aware that I.T. and Carrington occasionally used one of the windows, if unlocked, to get into the house when no adults were home to let them in.3 Likely, Carrington and J.M. sought shelter from the weather, still chilly with intermittent rain.4 Unlikely, Carrington intended to turn on and rob his surrogate family.

A neighbor next door happened to spot the pair and telephoned the Champaign police. He knew Ms. Thomas and was concerned that the two “young guys”—“black males” when asked by the police—were trying to “find a way inside the house.” He did not recognize Carrington or his friend, obscured as they were by the “hoodies on their heads.”5 A radio dispatch for a burglary in progress went out. The first two police officers to arrive were Robert T. Finney, the Champaign police chief, and Daniel Norbits, a fourteen-year veteran of the force. According to the dispatch printout, Finney noted at 1:30:07 p.m. an “OPEN DOOR IN BACK”—just the screen door, as it would turn out; the main door remained shut and locked. Forty-four seconds later, someone at the scene transmitted, “SHOTS FIRED ON VINE [STREET], 1 SUSP DOWN”; the Illinois State Police-led multijurisdictional investigation of the shooting later determined that a single shot had been discharged.6 The downed “suspect” was Carrington. An ambulance arrived on the scene at 1:36 p.m. By the time the paramedics checked six minutes later, the “[patient] was pulseless and was not breathing.”7 All efforts to revive him on the way to and at the hospital failed, and Carrington was pronounced dead. The attending physician told a police investigator, “it appeared that a bullet had completely penetrated the patient’s heart.”8 The autopsy later concluded, “The death of this 15-year-old, black male, Kiwane Carrington, is from a Gunshot Wound of the Left Arm with Reentry Into the Chest, involving the lung, heart, diaphragm, vena cava and liver. A large-caliber, copper-jacketed bullet was recovered from the right upper abdominal quadrant behind the liver.”9

There were four people who could have directly seen and heard the fatal incident: Carrington, J.M., Finney, and Norbits.10 As his friend lay dying next to him, J.M. was at once arrested and hauled away. At the police station, in a windowless interrogation room, he decided alertly, on his own, not to waive his Miranda rights and answer questions.11 He was subsequently locked up in juvenile detention over the weekend. With the initial burglary charge untenable, he would face a felony count of “aggravated resisting a peace officer” for many months, throughout which he did not give a statement. Of the four, only Finney and Norbits related to investigators their accounts, which, by law, could not be used against them in any subsequent criminal proceedings.12 Finney told his story within four hours of the shooting. Meanwhile, speaking to two ranking Champaign police officers, including a deputy chief, approximately three and a half hours after the shooting, Norbits’s union lawyer “advised that Officer Norbits was not able to give a statement to the investigative team at that time”13 and/or “requested that the interview with Officer Norbits take place at another time. . . . [because] Officer Norbits was having some memory issues with the event.”14 About an hour afterward, at a meeting attended by Norbits, the attorney, two state police investigators, and one of the two Champaign police officers, Norbits’s wish to postpone the interview was granted, and it would not transpire until four days later. Perhaps irregularly and patently unwisely, the two from the Champaign force appeared to have the most and final say in the decision, injecting suspicion of favoritism and undercutting the independence of the investigation.15

According to the investigation, Finney had arrived at the Thomas residence before the other officers, just moments ahead of Norbits.16 He drove an unmarked Toyota Highlander, and he was dressed in street clothes: blue jeans, a University of Illinois sweatshirt emblazoned with the officially abandoned “Chief Illiniwek” logo, and a black leather jacket with his police badge affixed to it.17 Finney walked around the adjacent house from which the neighbor had called in. With the two teens by the backdoor, Finney approached from the side, advancing toward the lone, narrow opening, between the Thomases’ house and detached garage, to the otherwise fenced-in backyard. Norbits took a more direct route, up the driveway. Finney had the better angle on the scene. He recalled seeing an open “storm door,” which he radioed in. Then, to his left, he “saw Officer Norbits . . . moving up” the drive. Venturing “a little bit closer,” Finney “observed two individuals right at the door.”18

His vision blocked by the house to his left, Norbits eyed, on his right, Finney walking toward the backyard opening. Norbits described what happened next before he himself made visual contact with Carrington and J.M.: “I see Chief Finney emerge along the fence [of the neighbor’s house] . . . and all of a sudden I see Chief Finney draw his gun and say, ‘stop or I will shoot you.’19 Going over the point multiple times during his interview, Norbits did not waver from this account. Perhaps concerned that Norbits had inadvertently left out a crucial detail, an investigator queried, “Dan, do you recall anybody specifically saying ‘police or Champaign Police’? . . . Do you remember that at all?” Norbits replied, “I don’t have any recollection of that.”20 Keep in mind that Finney, unlike Norbits, was not in uniform but in casual attire; particularly if he raised his arms to point his gun at the kids, would his small badge, at chest level according to investigation photographs, have been readily visible and decipherable by the startled, doubtless scared, youths?

Set on “heightened” alert by and taking his cue from Finney’s abrupt threat and actions, Norbits unholstered his own gun and joined the confrontation.21 The officers instructed the teens to get down, as corroborated by the neighbor, who did not see but heard what was happening; the staff person at the police station, who overheard through the phone while on the line with the neighbor; and a third officer, who arrived right after Norbits and only heard, from the far side of the house. Finney concerned himself with J.M., while Norbits engaged Carrington. Many words have been used by the police, the state’s attorney, the media, and the public to characterize what occurred during the short span of less than three quarters of a minute preceding the deadly shot, most of which gave the impression of a two-sided fight. None of those words were Carrington’s or J.M.’s.

Physically, the two pairs were unevenly matched: the police officers were larger, most likely by a sizable margin. Carrington and J.M. were slight: police documents varied in their estimations, but the two adolescents were decidedly smaller than the average adult male.22 Finney happened to mention that he was 6 feet 1 inch tall, and Norbits was sure he was taller than Carrington but did not want to “guess” beyond that; in police photographs taken after the shooting, Finney and Norbits appeared to be at least of medium build.23

Finney and Norbits described the youths as having actively resisted. Rather incongruously, both officers portrayed them as having been silent throughout, unintentionally calling to mind shock or fright more than belligerence. Whatever resistance there was, it did not include attacks on the officers, even in their stories to investigators. According to Finney, J.M. tried to move past him, and Finney pushed him back. J.M. allegedly made another attempt, and Finney applied physical effort to take him down to the ground; Finney’s minor injuries—scrapes to knee and hand, stretched shoulder ligament—were from this exertion, not blows inflicted by J.M. Norbits did not see Finney’s dealings with J.M. He himself was trying to force Carrington down. Like Finney, he did so, at least initially, with only his left hand, the one without his pistol. Norbits supposedly expressed concern about Carrington’s hands, possibly reaching into a pocket, which Finney recounted, too. (Neither Carrington nor J.M. had weapons, in their pockets or elsewhere, raising the specter of Amadou Diallo but not a bit of the police investigators’ inquisitiveness.) While he may or may not have gone down immediately, Carrington did not appear to have been particularly active in his “resistance.” Prompted by a police investigator with a seemingly leading question—“And um, is he [Carrington], he’s fighting back with you, or?”—Norbits reined in the rhetoric, “I mean, I, I can’t say he’s throwing punches but he’s clearly resisting.”24 Similarly, to the question “Was he [Carrington] physically resisting Norbits?” Finney answered, “As far as I could tell he was still . . . I mean he wasn’t going along with the program either.”25

With Carrington “in a sitting position,” according to Finney, Norbits’s gun fired;26 in Norbits’s version, Carrington fell after the shot.27 A sitting position would seem to be more consistent with the “downwards” trajectory of the bullet.28 Belying the impression of tight spacing between Carrington and the gun—“I remember trying to get him down on the ground, er, yea and the gun goes off”29—the autopsy concluded “without evidence of close range firing.”30 Norbits fully acknowledged that he was trained to keep his “fingers indexed” off of the trigger.31 His gun, a Glock 21, featured “internal safeties to prevent accidental discharge” that become “deactivated” only “when the trigger is pulled.” Since the gun was found to be in “proper working condition,” and there was no evidence or allegation that Carrington himself reached for the gun, the clear implication was that Norbits had to have squeezed the trigger.32 Finney “didn’t see the shot being fired.”33 His memory of shooting Carrington “a real vague recollection,” “a blur,” Norbits stated repeatedly and incoherently that he did not remember.34

Norbits was placed on administrative leave during the ensuing investigation. Without interruption or sanction, however, Finney continued in his duties as the police chief. Further, within a month of Carrington’s death, Steve Carter, Champaign’s city manager and Finney’s boss, who arguably wielded more power than the mayor or the city council, declared his unflagging support for the police chief. At a city council meeting, Carter proclaimed that Finney had done nothing wrong and that he was an “excellent police chief.”35 At the time, the state police-led investigation was in progress, and the prosecutor presumably had not made any determinations on the case. Evidently, nobody seriously entertained bringing charges against Finney, or credibly could have, given his undisrupted tenure in office.

On December 8, 2009, Julia Rietz, the state’s attorney for Champaign county, issued a fourteen-page report, concluding, “Although Carrington’s death is tragic, the evidence provided by the Illinois State Police investigation does not support the filing of criminal charges, and rather supports the conclusion that the shooting was accidental.”36 Among the charges Rietz ruled out was involuntary manslaughter. According to Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/9–3, “A person who unintentionally kills an individual without lawful justification commits involuntary manslaughter if his acts whether lawful or unlawful which cause the death are such as are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual, and he performs them recklessly,” and per 720 ILCS 5/4–6, “A person is reckless or acts recklessly when that person consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow, described by the statute defining the offense, and that disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation.”37

Rietz’s decision turned on two choices. First, she opted to believe Norbits and Finney wholesale. There was no part of their, or their colleagues’, narratives that her report doubted, much less contradicted. No indication of scrutiny or skepticism. Crucial irregularities (e.g., four-day delay before interviewing Norbits), disagreements in accounts (e.g., Finney’s first words to the teens; bodily position of Carrington when Norbits shot him), and potential discrepancies in the physical evidence (e.g., autopsy finding of no evidence of “close range firing”) were unnoticed, uncommented upon, or explained away. Her report also showed no effort by her or her office to question Norbits and Finney further, despite the fact that their interviews with the police investigators had been conducted in a congenial, collegial manner and were legally shielded against self-incrimination.38 Given Rietz’s credulity, it was of little surprise she deemed “that Norbits acted reasonably when he engaged in a physical altercation with Carrington with his weapon drawn.”39

Second, Rietz chose to fill in a crucial blank, Norbits’s partial amnesia, with a restrictive application of the law and charitable speculation. Concerning the act of shooting itself, she determined that “there [wa]s no evidence that Norbits made a conscious decision to disregard a substantial risk when the weapon discharged.”40 Comparing this statement against the law’s wording, we can see that she severely limited what was subjected to the test of “gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation”: it was confined to “when the weapon discharged,” the very moment the trigger was pulled. All of Norbits’s actions between his decision to physically subdue Carrington with his weapon drawn and his pulling of the trigger—like the placement of his finger on the trigger while physically engaged with Carrington, a practice self-admittedly at strict odds with his extensive training and knowledge—were thus subtly pushed out of consideration. What about Norbits’s consciousness? Rietz judged that “the evidence indicates that Norbits pulled the trigger accidently [sic], most likely as a reflex when he was struggling to hold Carrington with his left hand.”41 As far as I could gather, no such evidence existed: it was pure conjecture that plugged Norbits’s utter and, one would logically have to suspect, convenient gap in memory.42 On this point, Norbits’s responses included, “I, this is where, and I’m not trying, I just, this is where I get a real vague recollection”; “I don’t have a complete recollection of what exactly . . .”; “I, I’m drawing a blank at this point”; “I just, at this point, I, to be honest with you, just don’t remember”; “I wish there was something else I could tell you but . . .”; “Right now that is a blur”; “Something had to happen for the gun to go off. . . . And that’s where the piece, the puzzle’s missing for me too.” The last two were replies to questions about whether he “remember[s] consciously pulling” the trigger and whether he “remember[s] if [his] finger was on the trigger or off.”43 To Rietz, this fuzzy recall “sound[ed] like a reasonable explanation”: “I find that very credible.”44

Scrutiny and skepticism were reserved for Carrington, J.M., and those who might have registered the slightest empathy toward them. Although Norbits and Finney had no previous contact with or knowledge of Carrington and J.M. before the fateful day and therefore could not have been prejudiced by it, Rietz detailed their juvenile records, which police investigators had exhaustively assembled; by contrast, only the last five years of Norbits’s (and none of Finney’s) personnel records were forwarded to Rietz, critically leaving out Norbits’s central involvement in the beating and consequent heart-attack death of a developmentally disabled man nine years earlier.45 Rietz further disclosed that J.M.’s “MySpace page indicates that he associates with the North End Gorillas, a Champaign street gang,” without confirming its existence, its actual character, or J.M.’s association; when asked about the so-called gang, in relation to Carrington, Ms. Thomas dismissed the notion as silly: “That’s not a gang. That’s a little neighborhood kids. . . . Ain’t no gang. (laughs).”46 Punitive and paternalistic, the prosecutor would not drop the felony charge against J.M. for four more months, and then only upon his and his mother’s completion of a six-week “Parenting with Love and Limits” program.47 Leaving no stone unturned, the state’s attorney’s report also duly summarized Carrington’s school record, including attendance.48 No official word, however, on whether he made his bed every morning.

While withholding information about Carrington’s death, police investigators had conducted lengthy interviews of the Thomas household, including two of the children, right after the shooting.49 One of the manifest objectives was to set in black-and-white, unambiguous terms that Carrington did not have permission to be at the house when he was killed, as if this could prove a legal violation and rationale. Although it became clear that Ms. Thomas’s initially telling investigators that Carrington did not have permission was akin to a parental house rule applicable to her own kids and that she definitely would not have considered Carrington a burglar or trespasser, Rietz not only found the issue germane for her report but also gratuitously opined that some of Ms. Thomas’s clarifying statements were inconsistent and “were not considered to be credible.”50

The overall impression incised by the prosecutor was that the ultimate focus of the criminal investigation had not been Carrington’s death but his life, not Norbits’s and Finney’s conduct but Carrington’s and J.M.’s. Opening with an absolution—“In this case, there is no evidence that Officer Norbits acted recklessly”—a paragraph near the report’s end coiled into a rebuke: “Significantly, the interaction between Norbits and Carrington was largely dictated by Carrington’s behavior. By not complying with the officers’ lawful commands to get down on the ground, and by physically resisting Norbits’ efforts to get him to comply, Carrington put in motion a series of events that were entirely avoidable.”51 In effect, Carrington committed police-assisted suicide, proximately through his regrettable choices in attracting Norbits’s bullet and more generally through his regrettable choices in life.

Carrington, J.M., and the Thomas family are Black. Every state actor named above is white.


A longtime resident of Champaign, I was, and am, convinced that had Carrington and J.M. been white kids having done exactly the same thing in a neighborhood a half mile, or mere blocks, to the south, both would still be alive. Based on what I and other heretics have read and heard, and also not read and not heard, around town, most of our fellow denizens did not share our belief. But our uncommon sense was in step with existing research: for instance, according to a study of 170 largest U.S. cities, Blacks were 5.25 times more likely than whites to be victims of police homicide and constituted a majority of them (Jacobs and O’Brien 1998).52 More broadly, Blacks have fared worse than whites in every facet of their dealings with law enforcement (Alexander 2010).

Circumstantial evidence on Champaign also raised racial doubts. Compared to the country as a whole, economic inequality between Blacks and whites, a robust predictor of police killings (Jacobs and O’Brien 1998), has been much more pronounced in Champaign: in 2006–2010, the Black-to-white ratio of median family income was 0.41 for Champaign and 0.62 for the United States.53 Of the 125 officers in the Champaign Police Department, fewer than 5 percent (6) were Black, while over 90 percent were white;54 by contrast, according to the 2010 census, 15.6 percent and 67.8 percent of Champaign residents were Black and white, respectively.55 Not subject to a residency requirement, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the city’s police force lived in predominantly white rural areas outside the “twin cities” of Champaign and adjoining Urbana.56 Based on available evidence, from 2006 through 2008, Blacks filed over 60 percent of all complaints against the police, but the department tended to be much more dismissive, sustaining only 10 percent of them in contrast to 35 percent of complaints made by whites.57 Over 80 percent of the over 80 arrests made per year in Champaign public schools were of Black students; in a joint effort by the school district and the police department, specifically assigned police officers, armed with guns, operated full-time in the city’s middle schools and high schools.58 In Champaign county, Black juveniles were 25 times more likely than their white counterparts to be charged with a crime. On charges of “resisting arrest and/or obstructing justice”—which Carrington, like his friend, might well have faced, had he survived—Black youths accounted for a mind-boggling 92 percent.59

Yet the possibility of racism, however defined, had no legitimate place in the dominant discourse on the Carrington case. Less than two weeks after the shooting and more than a month and a half ahead of the state’s decision not to prosecute Norbits or Finney, an editorial in the News-Gazette, the daily with a practical monopoly on local print news, primed its readers for the eventual outcome: “Police said Carrington and another juvenile ignored their commands and tried to flee. It was during the struggle to restrain the youths that Carrington was shot. Circumstances point to an accidental shooting, that Officer Daniel Norbits did not intentionally discharge his service weapon during his struggle with Carrington.”60 Around the same time, in line with the sentiments of his colleagues, city council member Kyle Harrison agreed with the city manager that the case was a “defining moment for the community”: “This is all of our problem. It’s not a black thing or white thing. It’s a community thing.”61 The report of the state’s attorney contained no hint of a racial analysis, even to dismiss the possibility of its warrant. This emboldened the News-Gazette to editorialize, “Although the Champaign Police officer involved, Daniel Norbits, is white and the youth who was shot, Kiwane Carrington, is black, the facts do not suggest race was a factor in what happened.” Mirroring the prosecutor’s explanation that it had anticipated and maybe influenced, the newspaper could not resist a dig, what it regarded as “obvious—that this nightmare could have been avoided if the youths had submitted to proper police orders.”62 In their effort to preempt negative reactions to the decision by the state’s attorney, city officials acknowledged the need to repair relations between the police and the Black community but refrained from any talk of racism possibly being implicated in those strained relations, the prosecutor’s assessment, the investigation, and the shooting itself.63 After the city administratively slapped Norbits on the wrist months later with a thirty-day suspension for failing to maintain control of his weapon, the police union released an astonishingly spiteful statement: “How unfortunate and disappointing to see Officer Norbits become the ‘victim’ for doing exactly what he was trained to do in the name of making someone other than Carrington himself accountable for Carrington’s long-standing reckless behavior.”64 If Norbits, and not Carrington, was the true “victim”—the word strangely, ambiguously spotlighted with quotation marks—how could racism have been involved? At least the union had the decency to stop short of crying reverse racism.

Beyond inscribing the case to memory, I begin this book with the legitimated police killing of Kiwane Carrington because, though particular, it was not exceptional but eminently expectable. Though unique in concrete details, it wended its way more or less predictably to more or less unsurprising outcomes.65 Though not generalizable, it enables and compels theoretically and politically far-reaching questions about racism that I grapple with in this book. Most fundamentally, did racism impinge upon this case, and if so, what do and should we mean by racism? Is it an ideology? A structure? What do and should we mean by those concepts?

No evidence, or allegation, has surfaced that any of the police officers—or investigators or city government officials or prosecutors—uttered “racist” words. Although such expressions might have proved decisive and damning, rightly or wrongly, their absence is unremarkable: even when their interactions with Black male youths blatantly bespeak racial bias, the police rarely resort to racist speech during them (Brunson 2007; Brunson and Miller 2006). How should we make sense of this ordinary lack? Would, and should, racist words serve as compulsory, conclusive proof? What are the implications for how we conceive of racism? What are racist words beyond the few that most would agree on?66 Was Finney’s “stop or I will shoot you” racist? What about Rietz’s invocation of “North End Gorillas”? How much theoretical weight should we assign to discourse, to what people say and write? What about the related notion of intentionality that words are usually supposed to represent?

One of the first things the police did, when the neighbor called in, was to categorize Carrington and J.M. by race, as well as gender, and various officials noted and reproduced the classification subsequently without hesitation or trouble, as did the media and the public. Nobody lived up to the common, often defensive, refrain “I don’t see race” in any literal sense. Yet none of the people directly implicated in the shooting and its legitimation explicitly talked of race beyond registering the adolescents’ being Black or disclaiming its relevance. If asked, they would all have undoubtedly denied that race affected their perceptions, judgments, or actions in any way. But even if indeterminate or unknowable in this particular case, race must somehow factor in policing practices that lead to Black youths making up over 80 percent of those arrested in Champaign public schools or over 90 percent of those charged with resisting arrest or obstructing justice in the county. How should we reconcile such apparent contradictions between “colorblind” discourse and racist practice? Is there a contradiction? Is it a matter of people hiding their true attitudes and feelings, of political correctness? Is “colorblindness” the dominant form of racism today, as is often argued, and if so, in what sense? If this incident had happened in the middle of the twentieth century rather than at the break of the twenty-first, what would have been similar or different? Would it have been somehow more straightforwardly racist? In other words, what are, and how do we account for, the continuities and discontinuities between the eras preceding and following the Civil Rights Movement?

As among state actors and local mainstream media, there was among the general public an unequal distribution of scrutiny, skepticism, and blame on the one hand, and of empathy, credence, and exculpation on the other. There were exceptions, but Blacks’ and whites’ views were noticeably divergent, again consistent with current research (Hurwitz and Peffley 2005). At almost all public forums that dealt with the Carrington case—vigils, memorials, protests, city council meetings, court hearings, press conferences—Blacks were far overrepresented and voiced, variously and to varying degrees, criticisms of the structures, cultures, and practices of the police department, city government, and other state institutions. In reaction to the nonprosecution of the police, Carol Ammons, a member of the progressive Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, distilled and conveyed the underlying sentiment of this movement: “If white children were being murdered in this country the way we have experienced [young] African-American men being murdered, we would not have to demand justice in this case.”67 On the whole, white public opinion, quieter overall, was more liable to side with the police and the state’s attorney and blame Carrington, J.M., their families, Blacks, and activist organizations. Not atypically, one letter to the News-Gazette rejected the idea that Carrington should not be blamed for his own death, referring to “predators burglarizing houses” and “just a couple of delinquents.” It closed, “The black community must assert itself by demanding their offspring be law-abiding and prosperous citizens, not delinquent criminals dealing in drugs and the stolen property of others.”68

In this age of colorblindness and multiculturalism, when almost nobody identifies as a racist and almost everybody condemns racism, why do Blacks and whites hold such disparate viewpoints? Do discourses that are produced by dominant institutions and individuals aligned with them, predominantly though not exclusively white, perform the same work that critical subaltern discourses do? Are they two conflicting positions that are functionally equivalent, if substantively opposed? If not, how should we conceptualize their difference in relation to operations of power? In relation to “truth”? In relation to potential and actual transformations? Further, how do we comprehend dominant actors’ routine ignorances, the ignoring of opinions of their racial others and, more paradoxically but no less mundanely, the ignoring of their own knowledge about racial inequality and domination?69 What are the assumptions, implications, and consequences?

Solely based on this case, Champaign, like many places, might falsely look as if it were populated entirely by Blacks and whites: Asians and Latinas/os, respectively making up 10.6 percent and 6.3 percent of the city’s residents, were seldom a visibly significant presence at most events related to the Carrington homicide.70 Asians and, to a lesser degree, Latinas/os have not been disciplined and punished by the police and the courts as harshly as Blacks. Yet, when they did become involved, they were disapproving of the police and other state agencies; except for one fulsome testimonial by an Asian small business owner at a city council meeting, I cannot recall any Asian or Latina/o sticking up for the police. How do Latinas/os and Asians fit into the racial picture? Is the principal racial line shifting from nonwhite/white to Black/non-Black, as many now speculate?71 What are the historical roots of anti-Latina/o and anti-Asian racisms, and how do they relate to anti-Black racism? Many Asians and Latinas/os in Champaign, as elsewhere in the United States, are migrants or children of migrants. How does “immigration,” past and present, figure in the racial politics of belonging?

Even less visibly present than Latinas/os and Asians were Native Americans, who compose only 0.3 percent of Champaign’s population.72 In this context, was Finney’s “Chief Illiniwek” sweatshirt meaningful? Only in the face of external sanctions, imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, did the University of Illinois finally, after many years of controversy and protest, abandon its racist mascot in 2007. Nonetheless, the fictitious caricature remains popular among large segments of alums, students, and local residents and can still be seen everywhere around Champaign-Urbana. Given the highly politicized nature and salience of the figure, donning anything with references to it is always more than a sartorial choice and cannot but be a political one. How do we apprehend the omnipresence of a fictional “Indian chief,” which so many of the nonindigenous proudly hail, together with the fact that the 0.3 percent was once 100 percent? Is this presence-absence still recognizably tied to the genocidal history of European and U.S. colonialism? How does the history of anti-Native racism, if rooted in empire building, articulate with those of anti-Black and other racisms? How does imperial subjection structure racial subjection, and vice versa? Is it possible and desirable to construct a unified theoretical framework to study the multifarious histories of racisms of the vast but frequently denied U.S. empire? If the United States has been an empire, how far does its imperial history reach back, and what are the limits and possibilities of antiracism?

In the Carrington case and countless other instances throughout the history of the United States, the legitimacy of racial state violence is rarely threatened, its naked brutality and inequality rendered acceptable and justifiable, habitually without notice. How is this legitimation achieved? How do we theorize the racial state? What is the basis for arguing that the United States is one? Is it compatible with the liberal concept of nation-state, which almost everyone, including social scientists, implicitly and explicitly assumes the United States to exemplify? How do the racial state and the nation-state relate to empire?


Matters of racism are not and have never been simple matters. They were not contemporaneously more transparent in the past, before the Civil Rights Movement, and they are not consistently less powerful now. The premature death of one fifteen-year-old in a small city in central Illinois during the inaugural year of the age of Obama can bring up so many weighty issues because it, like most phenomena racial, is embedded in a dense web of meanings, practices, and structures of different depths, scales, and histories.

With a distinctive set of problems, approaches, and empirical foci, Beneath the Surface of White Supremacy is guided by a number of organizing principles. First and foremost, I seek to devise and hone more effective conceptual tools, unsettling common sense and pushing our collective understanding beyond received theoretical and political boundaries. The emphasis is on innovation, novel ways to expose and shine more light on racial inequalities and domination. Second, the book targets those aspects of racism—for lack of prior attention or entrenched debates, as well as no doubt my idiosyncratic curiosities—that I find especially misunderstood, overlooked, and puzzling. The aim is not comprehensive breadth. I do not touch on the many aspects of racism that are ably researched by others. Third, the book implicitly argues against methodological chauvinism and for eclecticism and aptness, not hewing to a single mode of analysis or a particular type of evidence. I draw on archival, legal, media, and statistical investigations. Finally, with the exception of one chapter, the book builds on theories and concepts I admire. For my and the readers’ sake, I make little effort to summarize the relevant literatures. Instead, I think with and through a select set of inspired and inspiring works that invite and promise further development. Of course, I critique and transform, but always with the common collective goal of advancing antiracist research and praxis in mind.

The book is divided into three parts. In the first, “Denaturalizing Common Sense,” I take measure of the whole. This introductory chapter attempts to defamiliarize what appears to be all too familiar—the legitimated slaying of a young Black male by the police—through close description, aiming to discern the dominant racial common sense that prevailed. In the opposite direction, the defamiliarization of this particular event opens up a multitude of more general questions about the workings of racism that I take up in the rest of the book. Chapter two is the broadest in scope, as well as the most abstract: it outlines a new theory of racism, an indispensable, if deeply fraught, concept in the social sciences. I build on two of my favorite theories: Eduardo BonillaSilva’s structural theory of racism and William Sewell Jr.’s theory of structure. The former goes a long way toward denaturalizing commonsensical views on racism, both lay and scholarly, by stressing its structural character. Insightful in myriad ways, it is held back by an unsatisfactory concept of structure. Integrating, critiquing, and extending Sewell’s more cultural and historical understanding of structure, I address a number of thorny issues, including scale, meaning, consciousness, and change. To do so, I prune the overgrown concept of ideology and distinguish between dominant and subaltern positions, discursive and nondiscursive practices, and performative and reflective discourses. Foregrounding the practical over the representational, the restructured theory allows us to square a host of contradictory theories and findings in the social-scientific study of racism.

Parts two and three are less broadly abstract, and each comprises two empirical cases, one historical and one contemporary. The second part, “Denaturalizing the Nation-State,” brings into question what, to great distortion, is almost always assumed. The United States is the specific “nation-state” under scrutiny, but the arguments are, with due modifications, applicable to other states of the West and beyond. Chapter three flatly disputes the universal assumption that the United States is and has been a nation-state. I contend that the United States has always been an empire-state, positing a conceptual shift with potentially sweeping implications. Foremost, it provides a firmer basis for understanding the United States as a racial state, a state of white supremacy, requiring none of liberalism’s contortions of the past and false promises for the future. For empirical analysis, I turn to constitutional law of the long nineteenth century. I show how U.S. state formation has always entailed the racial construction of colonial spaces. Tracing the strange career of Dred Scott v. Sandford, the notorious Supreme Court case on slavery almost never associated with empire, I argue for a unified framework to analyze the different but linked histories of racial subjection, including those of Asians/Asian Americans, Blacks, Latinas/os, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

Chapter four undermines the taken-for-grantedness of the nation-state from a completely different direction. The empirical object of analysis is the current social-scientific literature on immigration and immigrants. Since the 1990s, immigration scholars have revitalized assimilation theory to study the large and growing numbers of migrants from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean in the United States. Neoclassical and segmented assimilation theories seek to make sense of this ongoing wave of migrants and their offspring that differs in significant ways from the last great wave at the turn of the twentieth century. They also recognize and try to overcome the limitations of earlier assimilation theories. Yet the new theories continue to misconstrue race, badly, by assuming precisely what should be dissected: the “nation-state” and structures of inequality and domination. Shifting the focus from difference to inequality and domination, I propose a fundamental reorientation in our theoretical approach, from assimilation to the politics of national belonging.

The final part, “Denaturalizing Ignorance,” fixes on symbolic domination. Chapter five investigates a mostly forgotten massacre that took place in Hawai‘i on September 9, 1924. During a protracted strike of Filipino sugar workers, the police shot and killed sixteen strikers on the island of Kaua‘i. But the incident hardly registered, arousing among non-Filipinos little sympathy and little questioning of the legitimacy of the actions of the police or the courts that punished dozens of the surviving Filipinos but none of the police. How is such immediate consensus in defense of state violence formed? Incorporating W. E. B. Du Bois’s concept of double consciousness, I rework one aspect of Pierre Bourdieu’s social theory, challenging his overreliance on the tacit consent of the oppressed as the source of legitimacy. Exposing clear evidence of Filipino strikers’ oppositional discourse and practice that went ignored, I propose the concept of symbolic coercion that refers to the tacit nonrecognition by the dominant. The chapter explicates how racial symbolic coercion made possible and legitimate the state’s lethal use of physical coercion against Filipino working-class men.

It is one thing for the dominant to routinely ignore the dominated’s express knowledge of racial inequalities and domination, but it is quite another for the dominant to routinely ignore their own express knowledge. Chapter six explores this paradoxical phenomenon, which I label symbolic perversity. Contrary to the prevailing liberal notion that the dominant, like all people, would act justly if they knew about this or that injustice, I underscore the ideas that the dominant know plenty and that the knowledge is not hidden away in the buried recesses of their unconscious or some arcane archive. Rather they tacitly ignore this knowledge that they produce, have ready access to, and consume. This deeply patterned ignorance, a depraved indifference, follows a racial logic that devalues the suffering, indeed the lives, of certain categories of people. To illustrate, I undertake statistical and textual analyses of the New York Times, an irrefutably dominant institution, and its handling of unemployment data produced and made widely available by the federal government, another irrefutably dominant institution. The findings on Black unemployment and its news coverage fly in the face of conventional wisdoms that racism in contemporary United States, since the Civil Rights Movement, is hard to detect (and therefore hard to combat) and that nearly everybody believes in racial equality in principle (even if not in any particular strategy of living up to it). The concluding chapter draws out some of the book’s main implications for progressive antiracist theory and politics through a reflection on the social thought of James Baldwin.


1. Aggie Noh, “Map of Champaign-Urbana-Savoy, Racial Diversity, U.S. Census 2010 Blocks,” (retrieved June 5, 2011). See also pdempsey, “Champaign-Urbana’s Racial Divide,” February 16, 2011, (retrieved June 20, 2011).

2. Brian Dolinar, “Champaign Police Fatally Shoot Unarmed 15 Year-old African American Youth,” The Public i, October 2009, p. 1; Paul Wood, “Home Renter: 15-Year-Old Who Was Shot Lived There,”, October 13, 2009 (retrieved October 16, 2009); Paul Wood, “More Questions, Few Answers in Champaign Death,”, October 13, 2009 (retrieved October 13, 2009); Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice (CUCPJ) interview of Deborah Thomas, December 11, 2009, (retrieved June 2, 2011); Illinois State Police (ISP) Investigative Report, interviews of Deborah Thomas, her two teenage children, and her boyfriend, October 9, 2009, transcripts.

Unless otherwise noted, I downloaded all documents from the ISP investigation on December 8, 2009, from the News-Gazette website; though on a different page on the site, the documents were still available there at–12–10/documents-kiwane-carrington-investigation.html, as of November 13, 2013. Thanks to the efforts of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center and Smile Politely, they were also accessible at (as of June 7, 2011).

3. ISP Investigative Report, second interview of Deborah Thomas, November 3, 2009, notes, p. 2. I refrain from using the full names of J.M. and I.T., who were minors at the time.

4. “History for Champaign, IL, Friday, October 9, 2009,” (retrieved June 4, 2011).

5. ISP Investigative Report, interview of Everett Riley, October 9, 2009, transcript, pp. 2–3.

6. ISP Investigative Report, “Detailed History for Police Event #092820191 as of 10/09/2009 16:23:15,” p. 2; Julia Rietz, “Report of the State’s Attorney: October 7 [sic], 2009 Champaign Police Department Officer Involved Fatal Shooting,” December 8, 2009, p. 3 (retrieved from the City of Champaign website on December 28, 2009; available at as of November 13, 2013). The multijurisdictional investigation involved twenty-one police officers from Rantoul, Champaign county, Urbana, University of Illinois, and Illinois state police units (ISP Investigative Summary, November 9, 2009, pp. 1–2).

7. ISP Investigative Report, “Out of Hospital Care Report, Provena,” October 9, 2009.

8. ISP Investigative Report, “Urbana Police Department Supplemental Report,” October 13, 2009. ISP interviews of paramedics and nurses corroborated Carrington’s lack of response to all treatments.

9. ISP Investigative Report, “Report of the Coroner’s Forensic Pathologist to the Coroner of Champaign County, Illinois,” October 31, 2009, p. 2.

10. A fifth person, the neighbor, remaining on the phone with the police up to the shooting, did not have a clear line of sight and could not provide visual details.

11. “[J.M.] Police Interview” video (watched at on June 7, 2011); ISP Investigative Reports, “To document speaking with [J.M.],” “To document the Constitutional Rights and Waiver given to [J.M.],” “Statement of Constitutional Rights and Waiver Rights,” October 9, 2009.

According to the notes of Lisa Crowder of the Illinois State Police, “S/A [Special Agent Clayton] Woodard left the room at approximately 3:11 p.m. to call [J.M.’s] guardian, [L.M.]” In the video recording, Woodard could be heard saying, “I’m gonna call her and let her know what’s going on, o.k.? That way, if she wants to be here, she can be here with you, o.k.? We wanna, we wanna treat you fair, and we want you to know what’s going on.” There is then a break in the recording with the following explanation appearing on the screen: “[J.M.] is asked a series of questions consistent with standard booking procedures—none of them pertain to the shooting. He is then left alone for about 30 minutes.” During this break, according to Crowder’s notes, “At approximately 3:17 p.m., S/A Woodard entered the room. S/A Woodard said [L.M.] was en route to the police department and wanted to be present when officers spoke to [J.M.]” Yet, when Woodard and Tim Drake, also of the state police, administered the Miranda warning to J.M. after the recording resumed, his mother was not in the room.

12. See ISP Investigation, “Interview Caveat” of R.T. Finney, October 9, 2009, and “Interview Caveat” of Dan Norbits, October 13, 2009. The relevant case law is Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967).

13. ISP Investigative Report, Joseph Gallo, “Champaign Police Department Supplemental Report,” October 15, 2009, p. 2.

14. ISP Investigative Report, Troy Daniels, “Champaign Police Department Supplemental Report,” October 19, 2009, p. 2.

15. Ibid.; Gallo report, p. 2; ISP Investigative Summary, p. 5.

16. ISP Investigative Report, “Detailed History for Police Event #092820191 as of 10/09/2009 16:23:15.”

17. ISP Investigation, “Photos of Chief Finney,” (retrieved June 7, 2011). In contrast to those of Finney, photos of Norbits were not taken at the scene but at the police department about an hour later (ISP Investigative Report, [Andrew] Good, “Champaign County Sheriff’s Office Supplementary/Continuation Report,” October 9, 2009, p. 2; see ISP Investigation, “Photos of Officer Norbits,” [retrieved June 7, 2011]).

18. ISP Investigative Report, first interview of R.T. Finney, October 9, 2009, transcript, p. 2.

19. ISP Investigative Report, interview of Daniel Norbits, October 13, 2009, transcript, p. 4.

20. Ibid., p. 28.

Finney stated in an interview, several hours after the incident, “I identified myself, I yelled, police, get down” (First Finney ISP interview, p. 2, with Finney’s correction). Ten days later, about a week after Norbits’s own interview with investigators, Finney was asked specifically about his initial words. He reiterated having announced that he was police but conceded that “there is a possibility he said something to the effect of don’t make me shoot . . . ha[ving] used this phrase in the past” (ISP Investigative Report, second interview of R.T. Finney, October 19, 2009, notes, p. 3).

The neighbor and the police staff person on the phone with him, as well as the third police officer on the scene, did not report hearing Finney identify himself as police or say “stop or I will shoot you.” Although he did not see the shooting, the neighbor remembered, “Uh, I heard the police behind the house hollering ‘get on the ground. Get on the ground’ and then I heard a shot” (Riley interview, p. 4). Likewise, while still on the line with the neighbor, the police staffer, through the phone, “could hear one of the officers holler at the subjects to ‘get down’” but noted no other utterances (ISP Investigation, “Champaign Police Department Supplemental Report” by Jamie R. Weidenburner, October 9, 2009). Similarly, Officer Steven Reynolds only made out the words “get down, get down” (ISP Investigative Report, interview of Steven Reynolds, October 9, 2009, transcript, pp. 3–4).

21. Norbits ISP interview, pp. 13–14.

22. At least two documents of the ISP investigation reported differing heights and weights, both on the date of the shooting: one listed “offender” Carrington at 5 ft. 2 in. and 110 lbs. and “offender” J.M. at 5 ft. 1 in. and 120 lbs. (ISP Investigative Report, University of Illinois Police coversheet to first Finney ISP interview, October 9, 2009, p. 1), whereas another logged them in as 5 ft. 5 in., 140 lbs., and 5 ft. 5 in., 160 lbs., respectively (ISP Investigative Report, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office Suspect Form, October 9, 2009).

23. Deputy Chief John F. Murphy to Steve Carter, City Manager, Memorandum on “Shooting Review Board—Carrington Investigation,” interview of R. T. Finney, April 7, 2010, transcript, p. 22, (retrieved June 1, 2011); Norbits ISP interview, p. 24; “photos of Chief Finney”; “photos of Officer Norbits.”

24. Norbits ISP interview, p. 15.

25. First Finney ISP interview, p. 5; ellipsis in original.

26. Ibid.

27. Norbits ISP interview, pp. 24–25.

28. “Report of the Coroner’s Forensic Pathologist,” p. 2.

29. Norbits ISP interview, p. 6.

30. “Report of the Coroner’s Forensic Pathologist,” p. 2. The state’s attorney asked the pathologist for clarification, and the doctor evidently defined “close range firing” as “less than 18 to 24 inches.” Unfathomably, “no tests on Carrington’s clothing to for [sic] the presence of soot or gunpowder residue” were performed or requested “to further determine the range of the weapon” (“Report of the State’s Attorney,” p. 7).

31. Norbits ISP interview, p. 22.

32. “Report of the State’s Attorney,” p. 5; ISP Investigative Report, laboratory reports for case #S09–008304, November 11 and 19, 2009.

33. First Finney ISP interview, p. 5.

34. Norbits ISP interview, pp. 6, 19. Six months later, in his interview with the Champaign Police Department (CPD) Shooting Review Board, Norbits’s memory of the actual shooting had not improved. But there were a couple of notable changes. First, he now recalled that the original dispatch had erroneously indicated three suspects, in line with Finney’s and others’ accounts, although Norbits originally told investigators that there had been two (Norbits ISP interview, pp. 25–26; Deputy Chief John F. Murphy to Steve Carter, City Manager, Memorandum on “Shooting Review Board—Carrington Investigation,” interview of Daniel Norbits, April 7, 2010, transcript, p. 9, [retrieved June 1, 2011]). Second, he now claimed multiple times that Carrington had moved toward him, depicting Carrington as more of an aggressor than previously; his extensive initial interview with the ISP, in which the incident was reviewed repeatedly, had no mention of such actions on the part of Carrington (Norbits CPD review board interview, pp. 8–11).

Finney’s recollection also shifted over time, rendering Carrington a considerably more hostile figure. To the CPD review board, he now claimed that both J.M. and Carrington, not just J.M., moved toward him at the outset. Seemingly more vividly and certainly, Finney narrated Norbits’s encounter with Carrington: “I could see Carrington resisting Officer Norbits. I could hear Officer Norbits yelling to Carrington to get down. I could hear Officer Norbits saying, ‘Show me your hands,’ and I could see out of the corner of my eye, and just briefly diverting side to side, Carrington and Norbits fighting. . . . I think Carrington was probably in a more aggressive mode than [J.M.]. I had [J.M.] come up almost to my weapon, and I shoved him back probably at least twice, and then grabbed him by the shoulder to pull him down to the ground. His resistance, I never, his hands never came up. He wasn’t slapping around, and his resistance, I think, was probably less than Carrington. It seemed to me like there was a lot of yelling by Norbits for Carrington to show his hands, and they were engaged much more aggressively than I think I had with [J.M.]” (Finney CPD review board interview, pp. 17, 21; emphases added).

35. Author’s notes, November 3, 2009.

36. “Report of the State’s Attorney,” p. 14.

37. See also “Illinois Pattern Criminal Jury Instructions” for “Homicide” and for “Mental State, Accountability, and Responsibility,” (retrieved November 11, 2013).

38. On the interviewers’ congeniality, we might take note that Norbits’s union lawyer did not need to interject throughout her client’s interview. She simply introduced herself, excused herself for almost coughing, and, at the end, asked the interviewers to contact Norbits through her (Norbits ISP interview, pp. 1, 27, 30).

39. “Report of the State’s Attorney,” p. 14.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid.

42. Not seeing any such evidence, I contacted Rietz to confirm, and she unhelpfully referred me back to her report (emails from author to Rietz, January 13, 15, 20, and 22, 2010, and from Rietz to author, January 21, 2010).

43. Norbits ISP interview, pp. 6, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22. Nobody else saw and talked about the shooting itself. Finney stated he did not see it, and J.M. did not say anything, perhaps because of the felony charge against him that Rietz was still refusing to drop.

44. WILL AM 580, “Rietz Rules ‘Accidental’ in Police Shooting Death of Kiwane Carrington,” interview of Julia Rietz by Tom Rogers, December 8, 2009 (listened at on June 27, 2011).

45. Tim Mitchell, “Identity of Officer in Champaign Teen Shooting Released,”, October 14, 2009 (retrieved June 21, 2011); Dolinar, “Champaign Police Fatally Shoot . . . ,” p. 1.

46. Deborah Thomas CUCPJ interview, p. 30; ellipsis and parenthetical observation in original.

47. Mary Schenk, “Rietz Dismisses Charges against Second Youth in Kiwane Carrington Incident,”, April 13, 2010 (retrieved July 6, 2011).

48. “Report of the State’s Attorney,” p. 8.

49. During the interviews, the Thomases began to receive word by phone that Carrington was the dead victim and became distressed, but the police refused to give information or confirm.

50. “Report of the State’s Attorney,” p. 11. See the first and second ISP, as well as CUCPJ, interviews of Deborah Thomas. On how welcome Carrington was at the Thomases’, see the interview of Thomas’s boyfriend (ISP Investigative Report, interview of Dennis Atkins, October 9, 2009, transcript).

51. “Report of the State’s Attorney,” p. 13.

52. For some more recent data, see Gabrielson, Jones, and Sagara (2014) and Eisen (2013).

53. The greater inequality in Champaign, calculated from 2006–2010 American Community Survey data, resulted from both a lower Black income—$31,458 vs. $41,675 for the United States—and a higher white income—$76,256 vs. $67,424 for the United States; these figures included those who checked off only one racial category (, retrieved November 11, 2013).

It should be noted that overall economic inequality in cities (i.e., without regard to race) is not significantly related to police killings (Jacobs and O’Brien 1998).

54. Dan Petrella, “Local Police Departments Continue to Deny Open Records Requests,” CU-CitizenAccess, June 7, 2010, (retrieved June 26, 2011).

55. The figures are for those who identified with “one race.” Including those who identified with “one or more other races,” they are 17.1 percent and 70.3 percent for Blacks and whites, respectively (, retrieved November 11, 2013).

56. Email from Belden Fields to CUCPJ, January 2, 2010, based on documents he acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the Champaign police; CUCPJ, “Proposal That a Residency Requirement Be Incorporated into the Champaign Fraternal Order of Police Labor Contract,” February 2010.

Brad Smith (2003) finds no relationship between “minority representation” on police forces and police homicides but does not examine the effects of residency or of the interaction between residency and minority representation.

57. Petrella, “Local Police Departments Continue to Deny Open Records Requests.”

58. Champaign Police Department, “School Resource Officer Program, 2007–2008 School Year” and “School Resource Officer Program, 2008–2009 School Year,” City of Champaign.

Over the objections of Black parents, Champaign schools adopted the School Resource Officer Program in 2006. The parents presciently feared that Black students would be targeted and criminalized (Jodi Heckel, “Unit 4: Proposal for Resource Officers Still Alive,”, April 13, 2006; “Board OKs Resource Officers for Next Year,”, April 18, 2006; and “Black Parents Urge Boycott After School Board Action,”, April 20, 2006 [retrieved July 1, 2011]).

59. Durl Kruse, “Juvenile Justice in Champaign County—A Racial Disparity,” The Public i, January 2010, p. 2. Kruse’s analysis is based on records of the state’s attorney he requested through FOIA, covering the period from January 2008 to October 2009.

60. “An Angry Night at City Hall,”, October 22, 2009 (retrieved June 29, 2011).

61. The first quote is of the reporter’s paraphrase of Steve Carter, and the second is a quote of Harrison (Steve Bauer, “Champaign Council Willing to Wait for State Police Report,”, October 25, 2009 [retrieved November 15, 2009]).

62. “No Charges No Surprise in Police Shooting,”, December 9, 2009 (retrieved December 9, 2009).

63. For examples, see ibid.; Paul Wood, “Officials Promise Independent Probe into Teen’s Death,”, December 9, 2009 (retrieved December 9, 2009); Patrick Wade, “Champaign Police Trying to Increase Minority Police Hiring,”, December 20, 2009 (retrieved July 6, 2011), “Forum to Tackle Police Relations in Light of Carrington Death,”, February 23, 2010 (retrieved July 6, 2011); City of Champaign, “City Releases Community Forum Focus Questions,” news release, March 5, 2010.

64. Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, press release, April 23, 2010, (retrieved June 28, 2011).

65. In its sense of tragic and absurd inevitability, the case felt like the slow-motion run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, with various state and media actors playing out their roles as if scripted, to the disbelief of many but to the belief of many, many more.

66. There probably are a few words that most would agree are racist, but it is noteworthy that public figures who are “caught” using such words inevitably deny that they are racist, even as they apologize. For examples, see two items that appeared within a couple days of each other: (retrieved March 13, 2013); (retrieved March 13, 2013).

67. As quoted in Pat Wade, “Displeasure Expressed at Champaign Council Meeting,”, December 9, 2009 (retrieved December 9, 2009).

The most active among the organizations involved, CUCPJ is a grassroots, “black-led, multi-racial group, which seeks to expose and remedy racial and class inequities in a number of areas of life in the Champaign-Urbana community” (see

68. David Martin, “Defense of Young Man Raises Question,”, December 16, 2009 (retrieved December 16, 2009). See also Linda Webb, “Police Critic Wrong in All Categories,”, December 16, 2009 (retrieved December 16, 2009).

69. An example of the latter, the prosecutor office’s legal practices are significantly responsible for producing the huge disparities in juvenile justice in Champaign county. At the same time, it produces and consumes the statistical knowledge of these inequalities. Yet this state agency evinces an evident indifference to this self-produced knowledge.

70. Of 81,055 Champaign residents identified by the 2010 census, 5,111 and 8,566 were Latinas/os and Asians, respectively (, retrieved November 11, 2013).

71. For my brief take on this question, see Jung (2015).

72. There were 205 “American Indians and Alaska Natives” in 2010 (, retrieved November 11, 2013).