Anxiety is classically distinguished from fear by its "free-floating" character; while fear has an object, anxiety is alertness without an object, a potentiality, a tendency toward fear.* Using a Simondonian image, anxiety is metastable and pre-individual, like a super-saturated liquid, needing only a slight disturbance to start its crystallization. We should note that Simondon's notion of individuation, imaged by crystallization, centers on the putting into connection of different orders of magnitude; I use the notion of "events as crystallizations" to investigate case studies in terms of political affect as connecting the social, somatic, and subjective scales.
Rich Benjamin's NYT piece on the Trayvon Martin case, "The Gated Community Mentality," puts some (small-scale "geo-political," if you will) orders of magnitude on the table, but suffers by not getting below the personal and subjective to the neural and affective. The term "mentality" in his title indicates that personal or psychological subjectivity is his lower bound.
a bunker mentality. Residents often expressed a fear of crime that was exaggerated beyond the actual criminal threat, as documented by their police department’s statistics.... the product is the same: self-contained, conservative and overzealous in its demands for “safety.” Gated communities churn a vicious cycle by attracting like-minded residents who seek shelter from outsiders and whose physical seclusion then worsens paranoid groupthink against outsiders. These bunker communities remind me of those Matryoshka wooden dolls. A similar-object-within-a-similar-object serves as shelter; from community to subdivision to house, each unit relies on staggered forms of security and comfort, including town authorities, zoning practices, private security systems and personal firearms.
This is great stuff, but it suffers by not getting below the subjective level and looking at the putting into contact of the social and somatic: the presence of Trayvon Martin triggered not a "mentality" (if that is put solely in belief-desire psychological terms) but a political affective episode, linking the neural to those layered scales of civic, domestic, and personal securitization.
The research I like to use here to illustrate such racialized political affect in securitization is that of Correll et al, who show correlations between psychological-level racial prejudice, heightened firing in certain fear-related neural pathways, and behavior on a shoot / no-shoot test (greater false positives for African-American prompts).**
So, while Benjamin's piece puts us on the right track, there's a missing sub-personal level that would help us get a better handle on the crystallization of anxiety into fear by the sight of black men in securitized America. The Trayvon Martin case is thus a crystallization of such potentials, both on the spot -- above, below, and alongside the subjectivity of George Zimmerman -- and on the national scale, triggering the discussion involving so many of us, as we link not only synchronic scales of contemporary securitization, but their historical roots, as in the Gooding-Williams piece.
** Correll et al's abstract: "Early ERP components (i.e., the P200 and N200) differentiated between Black and White targets, as well as between armed and unarmed targets. Explicitly measured cultural stereotypes predicted both this racial ERP differentiation and racial bias in the game. Most importantly, the degree of racial differentiation in the early ERP components predicted behavioral bias in the videogame and mediated the relationship between cultural stereotypes and bias."