Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder

Photo Source Fibonacci Blue | CC BY 2.0

As the brilliant left cultural theorist and social critic Henry Giroux noted more than a decade ago, the dominant neoliberal ideology “collapses” the nation’s “pervasive racial hierarchies…into power-evasive strategies such as blaming minorities of class and color for not working hard enough” and “refusing to exercise individual initiative.” Even as racism “functions” as “one of the deep and abiding currents in everyday [American] life,” Giroux wrote, neoliberal discourse works “to erase the social from the language of public life so as to reduce all racial problems to private issues [of]…individual character and cultural depravity.”

This “neoliberal racism,” as Giroux called it, “can imagine public issues only as private concerns.” It sees “human agency as simply a matter of individualized choices, the only obstacle to effective citizenship being the lack of principled self-help and moral responsibility” on the part of those most victimized by structural oppression and the amoral agency of super-empowered actors atop the nation’s interrelated hierarchies of class and race. “Human misery is largely defined as a function of personal choices” and “all problems are private rather than social in nature.”

The reigning United States bourgeois and neoliberal wisdom claims that everyone is personally responsible for their own situation.  Good or bad, it’s your own fault.  There are no…

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