Angels of Denial
White Injury, Racial Transposition, and the U.S. Politics of Family Separation
Keywords:Family separation, angel families, Donald Trump, far-right, multiculturalism
This paper critically analyzes a June 2018 Trump administration press conference, carried out in response to public outcry over U.S. policies designed to separate migrant children from their parents. The press conference featured a large group of so-called “angel parents” – the parents of children who were killed by undocumented immigrants – who argued that because they are permanently separated from their children, they have it worse than parents who had their children taken away by the U.S. government. Despite the speakers being relatively diverse, qualitative analysis of their speeches reveals a rhetoric that coincides with the ideology of white injury (Cacho, 2000). I account for this using the concept of racial transposition (HoSang & Lowndes, 2020), which suggests that such multiculturalism actually helps right-wing movements create a façade of racial innocence as they further deny state violence, criminalize migrants, and justify tough-on-migration policies.
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