Say It Louder Why are we afraid of Black people?
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is a lawyer and founder of the African American Policy Forum.
The summer of 2020 will be recorded as a once-in-a-generation uprising against police brutalization of Black people. The multiracial protests that erupted in all 50 states seemed to break the embargo—at least momentarily—against the official acknowledgment of the continuing legacy of anti-Black racism in American policing. Fueled by the video-capture of the casual hand-in-the-pocket–style murder of George Floyd, this mass repudiation might be read as an expression of the humanitarian values that the brutal slaying of Floyd flagrantly violated. But as the 24-hour coverage and daily analysis of the uprising revealed, the regime that produced Derek Chauvin and the still-uncharged killers of Breonna Taylor is not a broken one: It continues to work as it was designed to.
The deeper functions of American policing were revealed every night that breathless reporters told harrowing stories of protesters smashing windows with considerably more urgency than they relayed news of police officers smashing heads. Not even the frightening descent into a lawless police state could trump the anxiety over a possible takeover from the bottom. Cable TV viewers watching the commentary and recaps of the president’s terroristic attack on peaceful protesters in front of the White House by an unidentified national police force were suddenly interrupted with the urgent story of a local drugstore break-in on the other side of the country—the perpetrators having long since departed from a scene that was miles from any active protests.
The reflexive treatment of erratic outbreaks of looting as a more ominous threat than the organized massing of state terror also speaks volumes about the nation’s real civic priorities. Consternation over the loss of goods rather than the incalculable loss of eyes, limbs, and lives points to the bedrock realities on which modern policing is built. It was not simply that the vicious response of police to the mass protest (while the entire world was watching) was unexceptional. It was the violence-enabling pearl-clutching about looming social disorder that reminded us yet again that mainstream thinking is just as powerfully organized around the fear of the bogeyman as the nightmares of childhood are. This particular bogeyman is a phantom born of slavery, a fear embedded in the DNA of post-slavery society grounded in the recognition that orchestrated and professionalized violence might not be enough to preserve the shaky foundations of racial hierarchy.
The fear of being outnumbered and overrun by the indignant and unforgiving masses is that thing that goes bump in the night—the gnawing insecurity that the paddy rollers in the antebellum countryside would take care of while the misnamed keepers of the peace tucked in the owners and the elites for the night. Generation after generation, they do their work out of sight, as the descendants of the slaves and the descendants of the guardians play the same unchanged roles, only occasionally brought into unforgiving light by the dawn of freeze-frame technology.
Read the story on The New Republic
Speaking Of…What the 19th Amendment meant for Black women
Martha S. Jones is professor of history at the Johns Hopkins University and author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All.
In August 1920, women across America celebrated the adoption of the 19th Amendment. At the National Woman’s Party headquarters in Washington, Alice Paul, the group’s leader, triumphantly unfurled a banner displaying 36 stars, one for each state that had voted to ratify the women’s suffrage amendment. For Paul and the many suffragists who had picketed the White House or paraded along Pennsylvania Avenue, it was the culmination of decades of work. The next step was getting new women voters registered in anticipation of the fall election.
But the moment looked very different to America’s 5.2 million Black women—2.2 million of whom lived in the South, where Jim Crow laws threatened to keep them off the registration books. For Black women, August 1920 wasn’t the culmination of a movement. It marked the start of a new fight.
In the following months and years, Black women around the country who had pushed for the 19th Amendment persisted. They came together in citizenship and suffrage schools, preparing one another to overcome legal hurdles and reluctant registrars. Fannie Williams worked out of St. Louis’ Phyllis Wheatley YWCA. Mary McLeod Bethune toured Florida as head of that state’s Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. In Richmond, Virginia, Maggie Lena Walker gathered Black women through the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal business organization. They tested the promise of the 19th Amendment, and they exposed its limits.
Read the story on Politico
More of This Community bail funds are saving lives. We need to protect them.
Mary Hooks co-director of Southerners on New Ground and Jocelyn Simonson is a law professor who specializes in criminal law and social change.
At least 10,000 protesters and ordinary people have been freed from jail and immigrant detention facilities after months of uprisings in which millions of dollars have been donated to nearly 80 community bail funds nationwide. But the backlash has begun.
In the last few weeks, news media, ranging from Fox News to The Boston Globe, have maligned the work of community bail funds, which pay money bail in criminal and immigration cases for those who cannot afford it. Reading these stories, it would be easy to conclude that the funds pose a threat to our collective safety. But the opposite is true.
Bail funds promote public safety, in small, non-sensationalist ways: They free people from the violence of jail, and allow them to fight their cases while keeping their families, homes and jobs. They build collective power by living out the ways in which the state should be supporting people in need rather than imprisoning them. Over time, this adds up to less violence and more security.
Read the story on NY Times
Less of This Banning affirmative action has driven down Black and Latino UC enrollment
California’s ban on affirmative action has significantly harmed Black and Latino students by reducing their enrollment across University of California campuses, lowering their graduation rates and driving down subsequent wages, a new UC Berkeley study has found.
The study, released Friday, also found evidence that affirmative action before the Proposition 209 ban did not significantly hurt Asian American and white students denied admission to UC’s most selective campuses. That’s because they enrolled instead at universities of comparable high quality and earned similarly high earnings in the following years.
“This study presents several complementary pieces of evidence that suggest that the benefits provided by affirmative action to Black and Hispanic Californians prior to Prop. 209 substantially exceeded the costs faced by white and Asian Californians, and that those costs may have been quite small,” said Zachary Bleemer, the study’s author and a research associate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education.
Read the story on LA Times
Watch This The way we select juries is racist
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