The betweenness of the language of possibility: ‘‘I can’t breathe’’ and language of pathology in cyberspace.

Joyce is right about history being a nightmare — but it may be the nightmare from which no one can awaken. People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them. (1)


This article seeks to track the language of pathology after the George Floyd homicide. What I called metaphorically, ‘‘language of pathology” leads to given authorize or license for racism which is hidden in the language and makes re- produce racism. Sara Ahmed also called “admission.’’ Hence, pursuing the hope of language of possibility appears to be an essential part of in this article.


On May 25 2020, the world witnessed the death of George Floyd. The story was familiar within several forms and several shapes, several times and several spaces. This severality and familiarity are proving that being a part of connivance our hypocritical normalization process. The words articulated: ‘‘I can’t breathe’’ which is the last sentence shared both George Floyd in 2020 and Eric Garner in 2014 is a sign of repetition of the scene. The paw of a dangerous fatalism, accumulation of silence in terms of national, regional and international, although we have doubts as (how these concepts are comprehended separately; it seems like as a holistic of the chain.) At that point, we can rethink the concept of postcolonialism to perceive narratives of ‘‘politics of invisibility and unreadability.’’(2)

Initially, this article does not intend to start with ‘‘racism history in America’’ either headline started with the ‘‘police brutality history in America’’ as produce to common language, in other words, knowledge which secretly hidden acceptances makes sustain this brutality through served in the news cycle, documentaries, photographs and streaming platforms. Sara Ahmed states that:‘ ‘if we recognize something such as racism, then we also offer a definition of that which we recognize.’’ When Spivak asks the rhetoric question of “Can the subaltern speak?” (as the term of subaltern covered colonial domination) Spivak uses Foucault term “subjugated knowledge”, this knowledge penetrates subaltern historiography within the shadow of imperialist sovereignty. Maggio mentions, ‘‘essentialization of the other always reinforcement of the menace of an empire.’’(3 )Reason of rethinking of Spivak words when we are passing through a set of representations ;however, the voice cannot reach us when George Floyd wife’s speech and six- year-old daughter Gianna forefront in the media. When announcer ask somberly to Gianna, “ what do you want people to know? ”(4 )It is the moment to realize that Floyd wife and daughter Gianna have become the object of desire and exploitation of pain from press organizations strategically. Entering the picture, whose voice always describe as silent, repressed or oppressed indicates that the game is over before the start as the boundaries of the subject are dominated, and it means that the game has already started. The whole picture remembered Fanon’s following words:

The Negro is a toy in the white man’s hands; so, in order to shatter the hellish cycle, he explodes. I cannot go to a film without seeing myself. I wait for me. In the interval, just before the film starts, I wait for me. The people in the theatre are watching me, examining me, waiting for me. Negro groom is going to appear. My heart makes my head swim. (5)

Press wrote down the following words, Floyd accused of ‘‘ buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill’’, and police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd 8 minutes and 46 seconds”(6)At that point, we can not hear his voices, he is accused of giving counterfeit money, but how can we believe in the accuracy of this? Whatever is accurate or not, there is a problem where knowledge is started. The act of seeking reason and the casuality linked with killing action and $20 bill within the press the scope of who, what, when, where, why, embedded rational sphere journalism practice for to rationalize what is happened.

Did we ignore other deaths because they have no videos? The length of brutality, the meaning of minutes and how he performed the killing action determined the mass reactions, the significant point in here, the density of reaction also seeks to reason. Would our reaction be the same if the action was one minute? Alternatively, if the action did not end with death, even while Chauvin continued his brutality. Expect of Chauvin, three police on the spot, they witnessed and part of the brutality, on the other hand, while all this was happening, people filmed.

When Eric Garner death in 2014, we are forefront these words: “ The evidence here is not supporting the charging police officer.’’ (7) The same landscape also as appeared in Floyd autopsy. Although authorities accept the cause of death as a homicide, at the same time; medical examination disagreements activated the manipulate function of evidence production through Covid-19 diagnosis. Hence these efforts to montage rational implementations to cover or degree of brutality depends on scientific information. When Fanon states that: ‘‘The psychoanalysts say that nothing is more traumatizing for the young child than his encounters with what is rational. I would personally say that for a man whose only weapon is the reason there is nothing more neurotic than contact with unreason. ’’ (8 ) In that sense, the representation of rationality and representation of irrationality is also strongly related to the construct of binary relations. It is noticeable that representations of demonstrator photographs and TV channels to establish between rational and irrational dichotomy, it guarantees dualism as when things belonging to law, the order represents rationality and somehow white supremacy, on the other hand, what is emotional, rebellion and chaos are showing that belongs to whatever is against of the white supremacy. All this can be read in a selection relationship because choosing does not accept being ambivalence or in-betweenness.

Besides, what happened in the meantime? The context of paths and substitutions manoeuvring shows that road deviation. While protest continues, strategically SpaceX launched, when people posted #BlackLivesMatter on their screen at the same time they shared SpaceX with great enthusiasm. It seems launched schedule took an earlier time. The ‘‘Making space a great again’’ action is part of ‘‘American dream’’ is glorifying prosperity, paradoxically when vast majority deal with making their voices to visible for the sake of accountability. Afterwards, Trump uses SpaceX captures for his political campaign. Subsequently, advertisement removed due to mass reactions.

What is more the increase of disciplinary practices because of pandemic was discussed; despite there was some disagreement in this issue, however, governance attempt to prevent and oppress protest under the light of curfew implementations (State of Emergency) Despite life risk of a pandemic, people across the countries marched and gathering for protest, interestingly, while the risk was highlighted authorities under the light of the rational mind, however, they continued to throw tear gas to protesters even the pandemic risk. Also, when the protest started the centre of Minneapolis, it has already a segregation identity over the spaces and within body relationship and mobilities, however, on the other hand, multiculturalism image is well-known conducted within segregations(10). Across the countries, colonial monuments are torn down — the image of collapsing profits to rational side as to show and sign what is illogical according to their terminology. Attempting to erase colonial past or colonial narratives which are the intersection between history, place, time, and memory holds a nation’s identity. When Bhabha states that:

Private and public, past and present, the psyche and the social develop an interstitial intimacy. It is an intimacy that questions binary divisions through which such spheres of social experience are often spatially opposed. These spheres of life are linked through an ‘in-between’ temporality that takes the measure of dwelling at home, while producing an image of the world of history. This is the moment of aesthetic distance that provides the narrative with a double edge, which like the coloured South African subject represents a hybridity, a difference ‘within’, a subject that inhabits the rim of an ‘in-between’ reality. And the inscription of this borderline existence inhabits a stillness of time and a strangeness of framing that creates the discursive ‘image’ at the crossroads of history and literature, bridging the home and the world. Rising amid a variety of contradictions, the descendants of the once-colonized find themselves trapped in the tension of two antagonistic races, fractured by two wounded worlds, and worse still, lost in the confusion of binary representations of cultural values and ideologies.(11)

The betweenness of remembering and forgetting, the question is, can we escape our past, or does to the past come with us even representatives collapse? Besides, the countries that watched all these events include Turkey tried to define how democratic they were and ignore the police brutality in their own countries. A frequently used statement: ‘‘We do not have police brutality like in an America’’ which is problematic degree measure looking at the West and define themselves according to this measure. This hypocrisy points to problems that should be considered seriously regarding our references and descriptions. However, in April 2020, 18-year-old Syrian Ali Hemdan was shooted by police in Turkey, although media outlets did not mention on the news, on the other hand, they followed interest police brutality in America.


According to Fanon, the loop between black and white, shaped by colonial culture gaze, on the face of the gaze, the feeling is not inferiority, as rather than a subject, blackness becomes an object have been identified by someone else gaze’s, it means never being yourself and not knowing yourself. Following words from him, he mentions: ‘‘when one has taken it into one’s head to try to express existence, one runs the risk of finding only the non-existent.’’(12)Thus, in Fanon terminology, ‘‘being through others or being for others’’(13)are the starting point of generates the blackness. Mutually, this situation reverts emphasis on ‘‘race’’ which is a questionable term for Fanon as the production of rationalist motivation inherited from biological motivations, construct the gaze of other. Nonetheless, at the end of the road, Fanon identifies the process of experience step by step in the part of ‘‘The Fact of Blackness’’, the process of colonization experince hidden in detail colonizer and colonized relations. Besides, Fanon adds every word started with colonizer and colonized or emphasize of colour strongly nourishes to imperial representations of otherness. At the end of these representations, the path Fanon chooses, it seems the only way to exist, through definitions from others and highlighted this definition that others tagged. Following words from him indicates this situation: ‘‘It was here that I made my most remarkable discovery. Properly speaking, this discovery was a rediscovery.’’ (14 )On the other hand, Ahmed describes whiteness following words: ‘‘which orientates bodies in specific directions, affecting how they ‘take up’ space, and what they can do. ’’(15 )According to her race can not explain by binary encounters, it is also bodily given practices and orientations:

If the conditions in which we live are inherited from the past, they are ‘passed down’ not only in blood or in genes, but also through the work or labour of generations. If history is made ‘out of’ what is passed down, then history is made out of what is given not only in the sense of that which is ‘always- already’ there before our arrival, but in the active sense of the gift: as a gift, history is what we receive upon arrival. (16)

At this point, understanding what bodies do and the body inherits us by actions means the possibility of changing the narratives of the body. On the other hand, when Homi Bhabha points out the concept of hybridity, he states that we cannot speak a single identity as the interaction between cultures and these identities emerging between the interaction.

According to him, started with the acceptance of differences which is the wrong place to emerge the discussion. Bhabha describes this action following words: ‘’recognition of pre-given consent’’ (17 )leads to problematize and stabilize origins under the light of time and space.

AllLivesMatters / BlackLivesMatters

When Derrida was talking about the concept of ‘‘Différance’’ that is hard to grasp in speech as we can easily change directions; despite, on the process of writing, it is easier to hook. Thus, the tension reveals in writing as on cyber stage, reading identity crisis under the light of hashtags are split two dimensions. One of the hashtags is a black square with #blacklivematters within a part of #BlackoutTuesday #TheShowMustBePaused. The other one is #AllLivesMatters, which appears counter-argument of #BlackLivesMatters. We do not know whether it is conscious or unconscious either the language of pathology. Carey mentions, BLM movement started in 2012; she states: ‘ ‘ when George Zimmerman was acquitted after shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Three Black women activists, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, started the movement that subsequently engaged many, including many youths of colour, in social justice activism across the country.’’

Conversely, in that context, the hashtag of #AllLivesMatters resemble a question that Said asked in 1978, ‘‘Can one divide human reality, as indeed human reality seems to be, genuinely divided, into clearly different cultures, histories, traditions, societies, even races, and survive the consequences humanly?’’(19 )Of course not, as narratives of the story have started with fiction domination based on biology and physic shape but also the problem of voices of humanism tunes in which is a strategically uses for reductionism in the twenty-first century for the institutionalized racism, particularly this reductionism embedded the State, civil society and also press. Besides, Ahmed points out ‘‘institutional racism’’ which is a soft touch term, she states that:

institutional racism becomes an institutional admission. I am uneasy about what it means for a subject or institution to posit itself as being racist. If racism is shaped by actions that don’t get seen by those who are its beneficiaries, what does it mean for those beneficiaries to see it? We could suppose that the admission restricts racism to what we can see: after all the definition also claims that racism ‘can be seen or detected’ in certain forms of behaviour. But I would suggest the admission might work both by claiming to see racism (in what the institution fails to do) and by maintaining the definition of racism as unseeing. If racism is defined as unwitting and collective prejudice, then the claim to be racist by being able to see racism in this or that form of practice is also a claim not to be racist in the same way. The paradoxes of admitting to one’s own racism are clear: saying ‘we are racist’ becomes a claim to have overcome the conditions (unseen racism) that require the speech act in the first place. (20)

Silvia defines this strategic new era as ‘‘colour blindless’’ which is a ‘‘post-racial period. One of the interviews he said: ‘‘ To go beyond race means we have to go through race’’ (21) and he examples from one of the famous songs ‘‘killing me softly.” According to him, it is a type of killing me softly discrimination, and he adds ‘‘if you kill me softly, I still dead.’’( 22)Hence, the emphasis of heterogeneity or universalism is an element of post-race period. Tiffin explains the following words:

The assumption of universalism is a fundamental feature of the construction of colonial power because the ‘universal’ features of humanity are the characteristics of those who occupy positions of political dominance.These people who are ‘human’, who have a legitimate history, who live in ‘the world’. Because language is a discourse of power, in that it provides the terms and the structures by which individuals have a world, a method by which the ‘real’ is determined, notions of universality can, like the language which suggests them, become imperialistic.(23)

A discourse of togetherness that over the previously separated as in like a ‘‘ All lives matter’’ which means races do not matter approach demand for equality without a practical reality. Young remarks, ‘‘Tolerance requires that there be no “other,” that others should not be othered. We could say that there can be others, but there should be no othering of “the other.”(24)


(1)James Baldwin, ‘‘Stranger in the Village’’ Last updated: 11 June 2020: (?)

(2) Robert JC Young, ‘‘ New Literary History ’’ A Journal Theory of Interpretation: 43, (Winter 2012), 22

(3 )J. Maggio, ‘‘ Can the Subaltern Be Heard?’’: Political Theory, Translation, Representation, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political: 32 October- December 2007), 420

(4 )Entertainment Tonight, ‘‘George Floyd’s 6Year-Old Daughter Speaks Out About Missing Her Dad’’ Last updated: 11 July 2020 accessed from YouTube

(5 )Frantz Fanon, ‘‘The Fact of Blackness’’ in The Visual Culture Reader, 107

(6 ) The New York Times, ‘‘8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody’’ Last updated:11 July 2020 accessed from:

(7 ) The Guardian, ‘‘Eric Garner: no charges against white police officer over chokehold death’’ Last updated 11 July 2020: news/2019/jul/16/eric-garner-death-new-york-no-charges

(8) Frantz Fanon, ‘‘ The Fact of Blackness’’ in The Visual Culture Reader, 89

(10)The New York Times, ‘‘How Minneapolis, One of America’s Most Liberal Cities Struggle With Racism:Last updated:11 June 2020: minnesota.html

(11)Homi K Bhabha, The Location of Culture, (London:Routledge, 2004), 19

(12) Frantz Fanon, ‘‘The Fact of Blackness’’ in The Visual Culture Reader, 105


(14)Ibid., 99

(15) Sara Ahmed, ‘‘ The Phenemology of Whiteness’’ (London: Sage Publications:2007),149: Last updated: 11 June 2020: 1fa9f15/1488897863830/Phenomenology+of+Whiteness.

(16)Ibid., 154

(17)Homi K Bhabha, ‘‘Cultural Diversity and Cultural Differences’’ in The Post Colonial Studies Reader edited by Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin (LondonRoutledge: 1995), 206

(18)Nikita Carey, ‘‘All Lives Matter but so Does Race: Black Live Matters and Evolving Role of Social Media’’ : Humanity& Society: 40(2), 2016 accessed from: ResearchGate 19 Edward W. Said, Orientalism (London: Routledege& Kegan Paul,1978), 52

(19)Edward W. Said, Orientalism (London: Routledege& Kegan Paul,1978), 52

(20)Sara Ahmed, ‘‘The- Non Performativity Anti-Racism’’, (Kent University: 2004), 2:

(21)Eduarda Bonilla Silva, ‘‘ The Structure of Racism in Color-Blind, “Post-Racial” America’’, (London Sage Journals, 2015)

(22)C-Span, ‘‘ Racism without Racist’’ Last updates: March 2014 accessed from:

(23)Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, London:1994), 55


All References


Barker, Chris.& Jane, Emma A. Cultural Studies Theory and Practices (London: Sage, 2016)

Bhabha, H. ‘‘Cultural Diversity and Cultural Differences’’ in The Post Colonial Studies Reader edited by Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin (London Routledge: 1995)

Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, London, 1994)

Homi K Bhabha, The Location of Culture, (London:Routledge, 2004) Said, E. Orientalism, (London: Routledege& Kegan Paul,1978)


Maggio, J. ‘‘ Can the Subaltern Be Heard?’’: Political Theory, Translation, Representation, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political: 32 October- December 2007)

Nikita Carey, ‘‘All Lives Matter but so Does Race: Black Live Matters and Evolving Role of Social Media: Humanity& Society: 2016: 40(2)

Robert JC Young, ‘‘ New Literary History ’’ A Journal Theory of Interpretation: 43, (Winter 2012), 22

Frantz Fanon, The Fact of Blackness in The Visual Culture Reader

Sara, Ahmed. ‘‘The non-performativity of anti-racism.” (University of Kent: 2020)

Sara, Ahmed.‘‘ The phenemology of whiteness’’ (London: Sage, 2007)

Sara Ahmed, ‘‘The phenemology of whiteness’’ (London: Sage, 2007)

Silva, E Bonillia. ‘‘The Structure of Racism in Color-Blind, “Post-Racial” America’’(London Sage Journals, 2015)

Silva, E. Lewis, Amanda. and Embrick David G. “I Did Not Get That Job Because of a Black Man…”: The Story Lines and Testimonies of Color- Blind Racism: Springer 2004: Vol: 19 555- 581accseed by: SociologicalForum2004.pdf


C-Span, ‘ ‘ Racism without Racist’’ Last updates: March 2014:

Entertainment Tonight, ‘‘George Floyd’s 6-Year-Old Daughter Speaks Out About Missing Her Dad’’ Last updated: 11 July 2020 accessed from Youtube

Guardian, ‘‘Eric Garner: no charges against a white police officer over chokehold death’’ Last updated 11 July 2020: garner-death-new-york-no-charges

The New York Times, ‘‘8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody’’ Last updated:11 July 2020 accessed from:

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Aslıhan Atalar

Media and Communications&Cultural Studies&International Relations