Black Lives Matter © Phil Roeder | Flickr
EssaysFeatureRaceRace/isms

Will We See Justice for Alton Sterling or Philando Castile?

Less than two years ago, a Ferguson grand jury decided not to return an indictment in the shooting death of Michael Brown. The grand jury announced their decision on the evening of November 24, 2014. There had been about 70 hours of testimony and over 60 witnesses. (NPR has a helpful blog covering all the action.) Remembering what happened in Ferguson may help us to understand what may not happen in Baton Rouge and St. Anthony: an indictment or conviction of the officers who killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

In line with the adage that a determined prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich, the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office was criticized for its presentation of the evidence in Darren Wilson’s case, especially given its willingness to indict Ferguson protesters. The vote of the grand jury is secret, …

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At a BLM demonstration in New York, an activist wears a shirt featuring the social media hashtag © The All-Nite Images | Flickr
EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia & PublicsRaceThe Left

Black Lives Matter: The Politics of Race and Movement in the 21st Century

Understanding the movement and what it represents

Where should we begin in accounting for the rise of the movement for black lives?

The tragedy of 21st century America is that there are innumerable places one could begin. The grievances that have sparked the cry, “Black Lives Matter,” might be rooted in the killing of black bodies at the hands of police, …

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Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. © Victoria Macchi | VOA News
EssaysRaceRace/isms

Learning Baltimore

A student asked me whether I had arranged the Baltimore riots to take place now, at the end of our semester. The news out of Baltimore too perfectly illustrates so much of the history I teach. I suspect I am not alone in this odd feeling of validation — at once reassuring yet terrifying — that the patterns identified by historians are also incredibly important to activists. They may have never taken our classes. They live the experience that most historians merely describe in our research and teaching. “Sometimes,” Tom Sugrue declared recently, “I wish my scholarship wasn’t so relevant.” …

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A huge crowd at the "Sea of Blue" pro-police rally in Cleveland, Ohio, Dec. 27, 2014 © WOIO | wtvm.com
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionRaceRace/isms

A Crowd of Whites, A Sea of Blue

A Report from Cleveland

This past week hundreds of residents gathered in downtown Cleveland for a “Sea of Blue” rally to show support for police officers and law enforcement official across the nation. The rally, held in Public Square in response to the recent shooting of two NYPD officers and to counter months of anti-police protests and civil unrest linked to the murder of three young Black men — Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice — at the hands of white police officers, one of which took place in Cleveland. Rally organizers claimed the event was meant to show support for all lives, but it was obvious from one look at who attended the event that it was really about white people showing their support for white cops, all under the guise of defending law and order. …

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Marchers in Washington, DC, protest the grand jury verdict in the case of the shooting of Michael Brown, Nov. 26, 2014 ©  Rbrammer
| Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionRaceRace/isms

Reflections on Ferguson

I have spent much of my academic career researching and writing about the Civil Rights Movement. Today, I am heartbroken, and I believe my greatest heroes would be too — Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Monroe Trotter, Ida B. Wells, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr., are all collectively turning in their graves. My heart breaks for America because it feels like the struggle, and sacrifice of countless civil rights activists have in part been futile. …

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A police squadron passes underneath a Michael Brown "Hands Up Don't Shoot" display © Overpass Light Brigade | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionRace

Cop Violence and the Order of Urban Terrorism

Immediately after Ferguson, MO cop Darren Wilson murdered unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, the city’s police mounted a show of militarized power that represented the rising tide of police-state terrorism in growing numbers of urban communities throughout the United States of America. Treating the community as a war zone, the cops occupied the streets, ostensibly to protect the city from the violence of black protestors. Rather, the militarized cop presence in the city of Ferguson only served to exacerbate community anger, outrage, and resentment. Young Brown’s parents, Leslie McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr., were left to grieve for their son, who was left dead in the street for four hours. Since the murder of Michael Brown, killer cop Darren Wilson has not been seen in public, nor has he been charged with a crime; rather, he has been allowed to walk free and has gone into hiding. …

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A boy playing in the water being sprayed from a DC Fire Department firetruck on a hot summer day. © The Q Speaks | Flickr
EssaysRaceRace/isms

Ferguson and Fatherhood: My Turn to Give The Talk

Recently, I took my son to the doctor for his 13-year old checkup. “He’s 5’8”, she told me, “and he hasn’t even begun his growth spurt yet.” I was also a late bloomer. 6’1” now, at his age, I was 5’2”. Looking at the chart, I could see there was an even chance he’d hit 6’4” in the next few years.

I knew it was time for The Talk.

My son doesn’t get out so much. Like most middle-class kids his age, the problem isn’t getting him off the corner, it is getting him off the computer. My son, however, is African-American. …

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