How can we speak of the racialization of tragedy when the acceleration of represented events exponentiates, as the particularities of life can be surveilled and broadcast at high speeds, broadening the ontological load of our psychic world? When racialized violence traditionally belongs to the cultural or biological inferiority of racialized populations, the banality of death is not worth representation. It is not something worth discursive attention within the social world. But what of the tragedy? The cataclysmic event so horrific about which we must speak. Those also must surely be racialized. In the case of Sandy Hook, culture was understood to be responsible only for its inability to protect or intercept the radical randomness of Lanza’s so-called insanity. In this view, the work of culture is to anticipate a contingency of possible events, to navigate a world of random emergence, where the volatility of bodies might threaten the immunity of our world. And which bodies are vitalized by this imagination? Those which presumably step outside of culture, those whose births are radical accidents that the cosmos cannot predict. Whiteness gains new meaning: dangerous vitality. Lanza was not a hysteric, a possessed sinner, or a monster, but a pathologized body put in motion by the accident of his so-called disease. Agency belongs not to the body, but to the contingent emergence of alterity. And where is such an immaterial subjectivity located? The vital energy of the white spatial imaginary—where randomness and emergence are assumed to be possible, the realm of life and death. Sandy Hook represents the threat of the white spatial imaginary to itself, it speaks to a need for it to protect, to militarize, to fold into itself in protection of those lives which are assumed to matter more.
The unpredictability of such an event is what gives tragedy its meaning within the digital age—that which stands outside our understanding or control. Agents who dance at the borders of the white epistemology are the terrorists who remind the world of its process of becoming. The work of the media within postindustrial capitalism is to remind us of such an ontology, an understanding of the world after history where events are simply understood as random glitches in the smooth unfolding of spacetime. Racialized speeds and surveilance become the means by which such an ontology is constructed and sustained.