Mapping the Spatial Geographies of White Identity and Violence
This chapter considers the insights and contributions of Melba Patillo Beals as well as other African American artists and intellectuals of the Civil Rights era who struggled not only to document White violence and terror, but also to highlight the multiple levels at which it worked to reinforce white identity and sociology in the U.S. Beals’ recounting of the year she spent integrating the segregated space of Little Rock’s Central High introduces a postmodern understanding of identity to existing analyses of White violence. The key to surviving her year at Central High when she was a teen, and to crafting a revealing and compelling memoir as an adult, is rooted in Beals’ ability to understand how White identity was forged through particular uses of space, place and violence. A critical double consciousness provides the means for examining how violence and space interacted to produce Whiteness in a specific context.
Keywords: White violence and terror, Segregated space, Little Rock’s Central High School, Critical double consciousness, Melba Patillo Beals