In late August, Joel, Jamelle and Gene were all in Ferguson covering the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting for their respective jobs. In this episode, they compare notes on what they saw and heard and what, if anything, happens next.
But I no longer watch these videos like an investigator would; the questions that they inspire are deeper. Is there anything else we can and should do to stop jaywalkers? The Garner video also starts out minor, but after he pulls his hands back away from the officers who are trying to handcuff him, it escalates quickly, with a swarm of officers and a chokehold Garner doesn’t live through. Why was it so important to arrest him in the first place? Adding police officers to any situation is going to increase the likelihood of violence, and there’s nothing we can do to change that except reconsider the conditions under which we add police. That’s because, in any situation, we’ve given police officers extraordinary powers and wide latitude to “stop criminals,” without spending a lot of time considering what we mean by “criminals,” and how far we’re willing to go to stop them.
The Brewster-Douglas Housing Projects were built by the city of Detroit between 1935 and 1955 and were intended for the “working poor.” In the 1960s and 1970s, crime in the projects became prevalent and they fell into disrepair. (via Juan N Only, CC 2.0)
There’s very little new in American politics, and that’s especially true in our debates over racial inequality. For example, here’s the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley in an editorial from July 31, 2014:
People often lament the quality of black leadership in America today, but in some ways it’s a sign of progress. If blacks were still facing legitimate civil rights issues—like legal racial discrimination and voter disenfranchisement—that would attract the best and brightest of black America to the cause. But serious people like Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King and others fought and won those battles a half-century ago. What we have left today as civil-rights leaders are second- and third-tier types striving for relevance in an era when the biggest barrier to black progress is no longer white racism but black anti-social behavior and counterproductive attitudes toward work, school, marriage and so forth.
And here’s conservative economist George Stigler, as quoted by Geoffrey Kabaservice in Rule and Ruin, in the December 1965 issue of New Guard, the official publication of Young Americans for Freedom:
[C]onservative economist and later Nobel Prize winner George Stigler claimed that the basic problem of the black American was that “on average he lacks a desire to improve himself, and lacks a willingness to discipline himself to this end.” The African-American male’s lack of employment owed not to discrimination but to “his own inferiority as a worker.” Residential segregation existed because “the Negro family is, on average, a loose, morally lax group, and brings with its presence a rapid rise in crime and vandalism.” Equality for African-Americans would arrive only when they imitated the virtues of an earlier generation of Jewish immigrants: “a veneration and irrepressible desire for learning; frugality; and respect for the civilization of the western world.”
It’s fine if conservatives oppose color-conscious policy. But I think it’s time for new arguments.
In today’s edition of #PostBourgieEverywhere, I started an online literary reading series called Bellow, and it launched this week with my fellow PB-ers Joshunda Sanders and Nichole Perkins as guests. Joshunda opens the set reading from her fantastic short story, “Sirens,” which follows a young girl’s experience coping with bullying at school and at home. Nichole followed with four elegant poems (now available on her blog) and I finished things off with an excerpt from my untitled novel-in-perpetual-progress about conjoined sisters named Wonder and Radiance.
Bellow aims to connect writers who may be separated by geography, financial constraints, or personal obligations. It gives those creatives who can’t freely travel to readings a chance to obtain or expand a following, amplify their voices, and strengthen their sense of artistic community.
I’d love it if you’d check out the first webcast, follow Bellow on Twitter, like us on FB, check out the website and, if you’re a writer of color looking for community or exposure, apply to appear on future webcasts using this form.