By White Privilege, I Mean the Ability to Stay Alive (Afua Hirsch, Claudia Rankine)
I have discussions with Saidiya Hartman, the literary theorist and writer, about whether this line of inquiry is worth it, and she stands on the other side of it. But I can’t see how it’s not worth it. If you don’t engage, I feel like it gives people too much power to say that what they have they will always have. Race is a constructed thing, so if it’s constructed in one direction it could be constructed in another direction. So I think that it’s definitely worth it. I mean, we’ve seen with the protests in the last few months: people are capable of changing.
There’s a deep psychological need for whiteness to go unexamined. White people have one understanding about what whiteness is and to trouble it is to trouble them. And they cannot hold it, they really cannot bear it, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with me.
Incremental Change is Moral Failure (Mychal Denzel Smith)
Casual observers, who aren’t always so casual—they begin to include academics, media professionals, policy makers, presidents—excuse the presence of the police here, and in other hoods like this one, because their position is that in order to stop the violence of the hood you must impose the violence of the state. The police are meant, in this view, to protect the people from themselves, to enforce the discipline their culture lacks.
They have no alternative…. How can a community deprived of the basics expect to receive the resources it needs so that it no longer has to depend on police? Its people have, purposefully, been given nothing else. When they ask, they are told to wait; when they shout, they are told that they are undeserving. They are shamed for the ways they have survived. They are blamed when they don’t survive.
I have grown past impatient with injustice. I am incensed by the delusion, so prevalent among the country’s supposedly serious thinkers, that tinkering around the edges of an inherently oppressive institution will lead to freedom.
Black Women Need to Unlearn the Pattern of Martyrdom (Christina M. Tapper and adrienne maree brown)
But how do we start to make a movement culture in which the workload is truly shared? To me, one of the deepest wounds of colonization and chattel slavery is this sense that there’s constant work that we need to be doing to earn our right to exist in any way. So that feels like one piece.
The second piece is we have to unlearn the idea that we have to earn pleasure. That we have to earn the right to rest. That we have to earn the right to be desired, to be loved, to be seen. That someone else has to give us permission to feel good.
What If We Radically Reimagined The New School Year? (Ashley McCall)
What if we put our money, time and energy into what we say matters most? What if this school year celebrated imagination? In We Got This, Cornelius Minor reminds us that “education should function to change outcomes for whole communities.” What if we designed a school year that sought to radically shift how communities imagine, problem solve, heal, and connect?
What if this messy school year prioritized hard truths and accountability?
What if we listened? What if we made space to acknowledge the anger and demands of students? What if our priority was healing? Individual and collective.
What if we recognized that life—our day-to-day circumstances and our response to them—is curricula? It’s the curricula students need, especially now as our country reckons with its identity.
The Feds Have a Long History of Snatching People Up (Morgan Godvin, Leo Beletsky)
The federal criminal justice system is terrifying. The potential sentences are incomprehensibly long, often many times longer than the state would give, if the state would convict at all. When Black and brown people were getting plucked out of their cities by federal police and sent to federal prisons and detention facilities across the country, the nation did not cry foul.
But the people getting arrested in Portland haven’t committed any crimes, you say? They are being arrested for little more than exercising their first amendment right! It’s almost as if people are getting arrested not based on their conduct or any notion of public safety, but rather what is politically popular at the moment. It’s almost as if this is the way it has always been … but today’s political pawns are mostly white, often educated, and politically active.
The Reckoning Will Be Incomplete Without Black Women and Girls (Tamara Winfrey-Harris)
Even though there is now a nationwide outcry against systemic racism and its by-products—the over-policing, incarceration, brutalization, and murder of black people—the discussion and activism almost always center men and boys. By minimizing the trials of black women and girls, the country will miss the full picture of devastation that the American police state imposes on African Americans.
America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress (Bryan Lee Jr.)
For nearly every injustice in the world, there is an architecture that has been planned and designed to perpetuate it.
Rebellion is a response to a prolonged dehumanization of a people unwilling to be participants in their own demise; it is often the soft power of the built environment that provides the preconditions for that dehumanization and the atrocities that follow.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind (Rachel Kushner)
Abolition means not just the closing of prisons but the presence, instead, of vital systems of support that many communities lack. Instead of asking how, in a future without prisons, we will deal with so-called violent people, abolitionists ask how we resolve inequalities and get people the resources they need long before the hypothetical moment when, as Gilmore puts it, they “mess up.”
For Gilmore, to “never forget” means you don’t solve a problem with state violence or with personal violence. Instead, you change the conditions under which violence prevailed. Among liberals, a kind of quasi-Christian idea about empathy circulates, the idea that we have to find a way to care about the people who’ve done bad. To Gilmore this is unconvincing. When she encountered the kids in Fresno who hassled her about prison abolition, she did not ask them to empathize with the people who might hurt them, or had. She instead asked them why, as individuals, and as a society, we believe that the way to solve a problem is by “killing it.” She was asking if punishment is logical, and if it works. She let the kids find their own way to answer.
Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (Mariame Kaba)
When people, especially white people, consider a world without the police, they envision a society as violent as our current one, merely without law enforcement — and they shudder. As a society, we have been so indoctrinated with the idea that we solve problems by policing and caging people that many cannot imagine anything other than prisons and the police as solutions to violence and harm.
Eugenics Isn’t Going to Get Us Out of This Mess (Sarah Jones)
They’re asking [willing death] of your grandparents, and of your neighbor with cancer; they ask it of me and of you, too, if your body is flawed or simply unlucky. The views…are eugenics. They separate human life into categories. In one box, there are people worth saving. In the other, there are people we ought to let die. Believing this makes them eugenicists. What they contemplate is not quite mass murder, but a sort of planned, negligent homicide….Let nature take its course. The fit will survive the cull.
[The] obsession with market forces was not about human flourishing, productivity, and abundance, but about something else. Supply-side economics gave them a way to intellectualize their own amorality. Markets care nothing for ethics. They aren’t governed by justice and they don’t feel mercy.
What today’s eugenicists are unwilling to admit is that there is one, less deadly way to rescue the economy from this pandemic. It’s redistribution, not just of resources but of power. The government will have to massively expand its tiny welfare state, and grant workers rights they do not currently have. It has the financial capacity to do so, but the project would force it to reconsider its priorities.