This article focuses attention on the pivotal role that stigmatization processes play on both legal and discursive fronts, that is, in justifying restrictive policies affecting ethnic minorities and in framing reactionary discourses in support of such measures. It argues that racial stigmatization is the key component in ongoing efforts to exclude Black and Latino citizens from full cultural citizenship in the United States, setting the groundwork for punitive and exclusionary policies aimed at disenfranchising and undermining their political agency. While legal documents record the rights and privileges accorded citizens within the nation’s physical spaces, the politics of stigma, I contend, maps a moral geography: it sets the contours and limits of communal obligation, disrupting affective bonds and attachments that can spur social change. As an instrument of power, stigmatizing processes today are helping to reinstate the kinds of policies and attitudes that the Voting Rights Act intended to redress, engendering a hostile climate for Blacks and Latinos in the United States and threatening hard-won civil rights and political gains.

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