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Black FeelingsRace and Affect in the Long Sixties$
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Lisa M. Corrigan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496827944

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2021

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496827944.001.0001

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Feeling Riots

Feeling Riots

The Emotional Language of Urban Rebellion

(p.75) Chapter Four Feeling Riots
Black Feelings

Lisa M. Corrigan

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter reflects upon the multiple interpretations of major urban rebellions in the United States between 1964-1969 to understand how descriptions of the major race riots, especially the metaphor of the powderkeg, created and reflected racialized political feelings where hopelessness replaced hope as the emotional framework for racial liberalism and as the possibility of integration ebbed. The assassinations of John Kennedy and, later, Malcolm X, along with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 evacuated black hope from political liberalism and replaced it with different political emotions, including rage, frustration, and fear. Blacks feared white terrorism and whites feared blacks. This impasse augmented the hopelessness and anger that undergirded riots. It prompted the passage of the 1967 DC Crime Bill and helped undermine the 1968 Civil Rights Bill as protest was elided with crime in news accounts and in public policy, effectively mystifying the context and content of urban rebellion. As the War on Poverty transformed into the War on Crime, feelings became a major rhetorical vector of policy discussions about urban rebellion. Law and order rhetoric reasserted white statism as the only permissible loyalty and effectively harnessed white anxiety and anger towards ending any possibility of black equality through the law.

Keywords:   Powderkeg, Riots, Rage, Crime, Protest

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