Racism and White Paranoia


  1. Empirical objectivity relies on observation. “The video produced during the case showed a man being brutally beaten repeatedly and without visible resistance” (Butler, 1993). The police argued that Rodney king refused to perform on command and his comments were wanting. Butler challenges the notion of empirical objectivity here since how could that video be used to claim that Rodney was the source of danger whereas we see the police beat him brutally surrounding him and he is unable to defend himself. The juror reporting that Rodney was one on the wrong according to the video is unfair since maybe he was protecting himself from police harassment, thus refusing to do what they asked him to. Due to his arrogance and since he was black, the police had no option but to beat him. Butler asks” how the visual evidence has to be read against racial disposition”(Butler, 1993). What was seen on the video and how it was interpreted were two different things.
  2. Butler’s article uses the concept of episteme to show racism in Rodney King’s case. The judgment of the juror on the issue was based on racial discrimination since there was no substantial evidence to show that Rodney was endangering the life of the police. The juror chose to perceive the video in line with racism. King’s action of holding his hands above his head is not understood as self-defence but rather physical threat to the police just because he is black. “According to the reports, Rodney was responsible for the blows he received”(Butler, 1993). Since Rodney is black, he is molested because of the notion that whites have that a black person must be violent or up to no good. Butler thinks that “when the visual is fully schematized by racism, the ‘visual evidence’ to which one refers will always and only refute the conclusions based upon it”(Butler, 1993). Whenever a black person is involved, the evidence will ever be misinterpreted putting the person of colour in fault without much investigation.

“In the white world, the man of colour encounters difficulties in the development of his bodily schema”(Lopez, 2006). Just because a person is black, he or she goes through difficulties while in the white land and will end up being called names and judged.  How Rodney’s case was handled, and the killings of many black people by the police show how the law is corrupt and based on racial discrimination.


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