Municipal “Violations” as Racial and Class Injustice

Municipal violation you say? Such a lofty term, but to many it simply translates to a heedless financial hassle. Many of us have received parking and/or speeding tickets in our past. I myself have racked up my share as a lead-footed and non-paying-metered teen and college student.

Boring topic, right? But when one begins to peel the layers back, they encounter a metaphoric fetid smell surrounding an intricate topic of injustice, judicial misappropriation, and economic subjugation concerning the poor. For many with the monetary means and legal resources, a hit to the bank account and possibly some time with your attorney is procurable. But for a certain segment of the U.S. population that continue to be overlooked (with the exception of amusing attempts during presidential elections) due to their economic status or racial makeup, these so-called small municipal violations can lead to dire financial and criminal consequences.

Case in point, the findings of the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the week of March 5th. They revealed that the city council of Ferguson, Missouri was successful at maximized their city fiscal revenue by urging the local police department to issue more tickets for minor offenses. With very little applicability toward the ultimate goal of ensuring public safety, Ferguson police not only habitually, but competitively amongst themselves conducted traffic stops and issued citations. The DOJ report went as far to state that,

“‘Issuing three or four charges in one stop is not uncommon. Officers sometimes write six, eight, or, in at least one instance, fourteen citations for a single encounter.”

The moral and legal corruption did not stop with the police department and city council. The DOJ described how municipal court judges are influenced by their appointed city council members to generate revenue from the bench as well. In fact, their job performance is partly based on their abilities to financial generation proceeds to the city’s coffers.

An internal report in 2011 noted that regardless of municipal judge Ronald Brockmeyer’s failure to perform justly (i.e., not listening to testimony, reviewing relevant reports/criminal records of defendants, or allowing relevant witnesses appear for testimony before issuing a verdict), a requested reappointment was denied due to his illustrated previous ability to contribute to the city revenue from the bench. Further, the report stated:

“…it goes without saying the City cannot afford to lose any efficiency in our Courts, nor experience any decrease in our Fines and Forfeitures.”

The impact of said findings are even more pronounced when accounting for population trends. In 2013, Ferguson, a city with a population of 21,135 citizens issued approximately 32,975 arrests warrants. These warrants were issued for people mostly accused of non-violent driving violations, parking tickets, and housing code intrusions. In 2012, the city of collected 2.6 million dollars in municipal court fines and fees. Racially, statistics indicate that Blacks are disproportionately affected. Respectively, it has been shown that 86 percent and 12.7 percent of Black and White motorist were stopped. This is astounding when one recognizes that the population of Blacks and Whites are 67 and 29 percent respectively. In addition, In regard to traffic stops, Blacks citizens are stopped, searched, and arrested approximately two times more than their White counterparts.

Since there are no public defenders assigned to municipal courts, many of the 22 percent living below the poverty line who may have been on the wrong side of luck and consequentially arrested for frivolous traffic accounts, do not have access to free, and definitely not paid legal representation. Due to their inability to pay court fines, many defendants perform the “Curly Shuffle” and avoid court. Even if they did happen to appear, employees of the court have reported that hearings have a likelihood of beginning 30 minutes before their designated time. Doors are often locked at least 5 minutes before the official time began. This sort of court supervised shell game leads to additional charges mounting for those appearing before the court.

But do not worry; there is help. But this type of assistance comes with an unadorned high price. But this is not uncommon in our nation. As always, there are parasites falsely disguised as saviors who prey on the weak and suffering. Unscrupulous companies such as Judicial Correction Services (JCS) and Sentinel Offenders Services are blindly used by the judicial system to subjugate countless people living in poverty. If you are unfamiliar with the scheme, here is how it goes:

Let’s say you received a speeding ticket in Alabama for driving less than 25 miles over the posted limit. The actual fee and cost of the ticket is 20 and 162 dollars respectively. This brings you to a whopping total of 182 “American dollars (insert verbal emphasis).” But do not forget you are working two part-time jobs and attempting to provide for your family alone. It is hard enough simply keeping the lights on and some food in your baby’s belly. You try, but ultimately you cannot pay the total cost of fines and cost of the speeding violation.

The city in which you live then puts you on “pay-only” probation. The state of probation is not to ensure that you are avoiding the bad elements of street or drug life. It is merely a form of probation that is in place to make sure the state collects that cash money (ex. Any fines, fees and associated court costs). But in order for this to occur, you must first pay a fee of 10 dollars to be enrolled in the probation (set up fee). Once enrolled, your new monthly obligation is to visit (regardless of your employment obligations) your local JCS to pay 140 dollars. The problem is, a place such as JCS pockets 40 dollars. But you find yourself now falling behind on your payments. Additional fees are accrued alongside your standing debt. All of which prolongs your involvement in the court system. This is how these for-profit companies get their take. Slowly but surely, you find yourself sinking more and more into that all too familiar financial pit of misery. A bothersome, but easily dealt with obligation for the financially able, is a heavy yoke not easily removed from the neck of the poor.

In response to such practices, advocacy and social justice groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have begun to fight for the marginalized. On behalf of Roxanne Reynolds, a federal lawsuit was filed on March 12, 2015 accusing JCS of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act due to their effort to extort funds from economically poor citizens of Alabama who fell behind on their payment plan. To coerce people, JCS used the threat of jail (debtors’ prison) to force people to continue with their payments. Attorney for SPLC stated that through court manipulation, places such as JCS have created a “two-tiered system of justice.” One tier houses those who can afford to pay and quickly settle all financial obligations. The other is occupied with those without the means who get entombed for months and possibly years in their system. ” In regards to Mrs. Reynolds, SPLC stated:

Reynolds earned very little on an assembly line making automobile parts. Plus, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had to miss three months of work. When she fell behind on her payments, a JCS employee threatened her with jail. She did everything she could to pay. She ignored her mounting medical and utility bills. Once, she barely ate for a week. She was terrified about what would happen to her health in jail…Last year, Reynolds was finally able to pay off her debt – after 15 months and a four-day stint in jail.

Similar lawsuits have been filed throughout Alabama and Georgia. In Georgia for example, companies such as Sentinel Offender Services were extending “pay only” probation periods when citizens were unable to pay their costs. Further, in Sentinel Offender Services, LLC., v. Glover et al, (S14A1033 and S14X1036 et al., 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously ruled that municipal courts cannot “legally lengthen a person’s misdemeanor sentence beyond what was originally ordered by the sentencing court.” In fact, the Court declared that probation companies do not have the authority to “put fee collections on hold–a practice called tolling–or extend a probation sentence.” There is a maximum sentence of twelve months for a misdemeanor conviction.

Now that I am thinking, this practice seems very familiar. Oh yes, white America has a funny way of revising its racial practices of oppression to fit with the times. If we look back throughout the American history books, one would stumble upon a period from the end of the Civil War until World War II were Blacks, especially Black males were forced into a state of compulsory slavery in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia. In the eyes of Pulitzer Prize recipient Douglas Blackmon, these poor Blacks were seen to be involved in the practice of human labor trafficking. They were essentially sold to White owners of labor farms, timber mills, pine tar companies, and coal and road construction operations. These men were often physically and emotionally abused. Before being imprisoned, these men were initially jailed on trumped-up charges by paid off law enforcement officials (on the take of wealthy owners and compensated for their collection of Blacks). Once appearing before court, these kidnapped men were ordered to pay overpriced court costs or fines that resulted from their false charges. If they we unable to pay in court, local law officials gave them to rich land and business owners for as low as 25 dollars. Once the men were traded, they were told that they could not leave their employer until their debt was paid in full. Of course, this almost never occurred. Not only state, but also federal bodies of government knew of this practice. This custom continued in some form or fashion until the 1960s (Counter to Blackmon’s claim that it ended after WWII).

History does truly repeat itself. Again and Again, and . . . . . .

Muslims and Racialization: A Response to Foner

This year’s presidential keynote lecture at the Eastern Sociological Society’s annual conference was given by Nancy Foner, Distinguished Professor of Sociology (CUNY). The conference theme was “Crossing Borders,” and Foner took up the question of whether or not Islam in Europe is similar to race in the United States.

Nancy Foner ESS Presidential Address

(Image source)

As a scholar who studies the racialization of Muslims in the United States, I was eager to hear what she had to say given her expertise as an immigration scholar. In my work, I argue that in a post-9/11 society we need to examine the experiences of Muslims as racial in nature.

This requires scholars to come up with newer ways to examine race that reflect the political, cultural and economic contexts within which we live in. Fortunately a growing number of scholars are doing the work of re-theorizing race, reflecting the fact that race shifts over time and is fluid rather than a static/rigid concept. For example, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva argues in his Latin Americanization Thesis (pdf) that the United States has moved from a bi-racial system to a tri-racial one.

Bonilla-Silva argues that due to the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the racial classification has changed in the United States from a black and white one to one that includes collective blacks, honorary whites and whites. This framework makes space for an understanding of how various racial and ethnic groups experience race and racism differentially due to a myriad of factors aside from just skin tone, delving into the complexities of race in the United States.

Unfortunately, Nancy Foner’s analysis of European Muslims to “color-coded” race in the United States did not provide that complex analysis of race required to understand the connection of immigration and religion to race. Instead, Foner’s talk highlighted how race is perceived in the United States. Many people, including scholars, think race is limited to skin tone.

The need to equate someone’s racial experience with African-Americans limits an understanding of race to a black and white paradigm. It ignores the intersecting factors that contribute to the social construction of racialized identities, such as language, clothing, nation of origin and religion. It also assumes racial experiences do not change over time. For example, African Americans’ experiences with racism have changed over time, partially due to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While we do not live in a post-racial society, as some may claim, racism has changed over time. Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow examines how mass incarceration is a new system of oppression that strips African-American men of their basic rights. By chronicling laws and policies put in place that have resulted in the hyper-incarceration of African American men, she finds the system of Jim Crow is still alive and well. Racial projects shift and change over time.

In a similar way, anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobia has shifted over time, particularly since 9/11. Anti-Muslim sentiments spiked immediately after 9/11 and then declined. But in the decade since 9/11 public opinion toward Muslims has increasingly gotten worse, especially with the continuous coverage in the media of Muslims as terrorists.

Muslim experiences with racism must be understood within the context of 9/11 and the War on Terror. In a post-9/11, discrimination against Muslims has risen in the United States. A Muslim religious identity has become racialized as a threat to national security and as a consequence they are subjected to increased surveillance and are denied the privileges with citizenship. For example, policies like the National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) required non-citizen men aged 16 and over to register with the state. Out of the 25 countries on this list, 24 are Muslim majority. Although this policy has been deactivated, its impact on Muslim immigrants lingers.

Anti- Muslim sentiments do not just impact immigrants. Muslim Americans are also treated as suspect. They have been repeatedly stripped of their civil rights privileges associated with citizenship such as being viewed and treated like loyal members of society. Instead they are treated as a threat to national security and endure hyper surveillance in places like U.S. airports.

Nancy Foner has written that in the United States religion provides a pathway to integration for new immigrants while in Europe it can be a barrier. She and her co-author argue for Hindus in the United States, religious spaces have provided new immigrants with access to certain resources, such as language instruction and assistance with jobs creating a path to Americanization. In countries like France, Islam is treated as a barrier to integration. But while Muslims in France face harsher forms of discrimination through policies that prohibit their religious practices in public spaces, this does not mean that Muslims in the United States are exempt from racial experiences. In this new era of the War on Terror where the United States is increasingly becoming a surveillance society, Islamic religious institutions have become a site of surveillance rather than a path to integration into the American landscape. Life for Muslims in the United States has changed drastically due to a changing political structure that is hyper concerned with security both internationally and domestically. As a result, the state has contributed to the social construction of a Muslim enemy resulting in Muslim bodies being racialized as a threat to national security and are treated as such.

Vilna Bashi Treitler makes a persuasive argument in “Social Agency and White Supremacy in Immigration Studies,” that immigration scholars fail to ignore the structural constraints immigrants face in society and offers racialization as a better model than assimilation to understand the immigrant experience. Treitler’s article highlights how integration is not always possible due to structures that are racialized and reject certain groups from gaining access to resources. This study provides a much-needed response to immigration scholars who fail to understand the restrictions and barriers faced by immigrants due to structures that are racialized.

So, even though one immigrant group may enjoy access to financial resources, this does not mean they avoid racism all together. Furthermore, racism needs to be understood contextually. Japanese experiences with racism differed during internment due to World War II than they do today. In a similar fashion, Muslims are increasingly experiencing more prejudice and discrimination due to their religious identity than they have in the past. Finally, not all racisms are equal. Experiences with racism and its impact are varied. In other words, racism is fluid.

Nancy Foner’s keynote address created a space for more discussion around religion, immigration and race. While I do not argue Muslim has become a new race, their religious identities have acquired racial meanings associating their bodies with terror and violence resulting in their increased experiences with racism. There is much room for debate and discussion around these ideas and hopefully scholars of race will start to engage with the complexities of race as it relates to religion, immigration and gender rather than compartmentalizing each one.

 

~ Guest blogger Saher Selod is Assistant Professor of Sociology, Simmons College

On the White Jesus: No Evidence to Support the Popular Image

The Jesus in the Bible could not have resembled the white Jesus figures as shown in these images:

Jesus Portriat Smiling Body Builder Jesus Mormon Romance Novel Jesus

(Image sources, left to right: Image left, Image center, Image right.)

Such images reflect what we would like to suggest, nothing more than grossly misled white imaginations—at least within an honest historical and scholarly context. While nobody knows what Jesus actually “looked” like, he was most definitely was not a white guy.

Why is this important?

After all, everybody has the right to imagine Jesus in any way they wish. True.

But such choices are largely removed when people are socialized into religious teachings that assert he was white. Such socialization and teachings use distorted imagery to support their lessons and reinforce their belief systems. While such images as those above may seem relatively harmless, they are actually quite harmful in terms of encouraging and perpetuating a very racist understanding of both religion and history.

The oldest known images of Jesus from Syria in approximately 235 A.D. (image on the left below) and the Catacombs of Rome in the 3rd Century A.D. (image on the right) show him as having brown skin of African-Middle Eastern descent:

Oldest Known Image of Mary Jesus Syria 235 Jesus Catacombs of Rome 3rd Cent

(Image, left, is the oldest known depiction of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus in the Cacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria in Rome 150 C.E. est; the image, center, is from Syria 235 A.D. est.; the image, right, from the Catacombs of Rome 3rd Century A.D.).

 

Christian followers themselves represent people of all skin shades, hair textures, and eye colors, yet, regardless of their group characteristics, different cultures throughout the world have generated images of Jesus and his mother that reflect their own group features and characteristics. However, in western society, the diversity of imagery severely lacks and is often limited to presentations of a white Jesus and white mother Mary where applicable. In mainstream western societies, Christians of color have been largely forced to encounter images that resemble the characteristics of the dominant group. Presentations of the light skinned Westernized non-Semitic deity is not unique to the U.S. as it goes back hundreds of centuries well illustrated with the images below, both estimated to have been created during the 6th Century:

Christ the Emperor 500 Early White Mary

(Image source leftImage source right)

Given that Christians believe Jesus was presented in God’s image, any imagery can be powerful in subtly influencing the followers in gendered and racialized ways. In U.S. society, since white Protestantism is dominant and Jesus is often presented as a white male figure, even if subconsciously, white males may be able to assume they were created in God’s image.

Where does this leave Christians of color, at least within the context of the white Christianity’s of the past and present?

Of further importance with whiteness and Protestantism is the fundamental disregard for the divine significance of Jesus’ mother, Mary, within the religious context. These gendered and racialized theological modifications reflect significant religious departures from the earlier Christianity. For example, much of the earliest arts included Mary holding baby Jesus. While including Mary, still problematic with the early art as shown above is the racial and ethnic misrepresentation of both Jesus and Mary in an accurate historical context (religious or not). Nevertheless, this shift served to necessarily exclude divine inclusion of all females, regardless of color, resulting in the worship and relevance of only a male figure and male god. This shift served to only further reinforce the gendered “maleness” and masculine perceptions of God leaving females without any significant divine female figures to admire and include in their belief systems for worship. So here, the issues are related to both race and ethnicity, and gender.

For Christians of color, even if the gendered issues mentioned above do not apply, whiteness is still problematic for non-Protestant Christian traditions that do extend divine significance to his mother and related figures, as with Catholics. For example, regardless of what color and ethnicity you may be, when purchasing prayer candles likely you will encounter the limited and exclusive racial imagery as shown below:

Prayer Candles Blonde Hair Blue Eyed Jesus

Many people who are socialized with this imagery from birth do not question the visual accuracy of their deity for a variety of reasons (fears of being sacrilegious, placing all faith in to the church or pastor/leader as providing the true instruction on the infallible word of god, lacking the basic ability to question otherwise as a result of being socialized in a world where all major religious and non-religious institutions are dominated by whites, etc.). The white Jesus then, is too often blindly reinforced and internalized with every encounter of such images, and perhaps even more so when various spiritual rituals are carried out with items that are pictured with the white Jesus, white Mother Mary, white Saints, and so on.

At least in the U.S., rarely (in ever) are options available for the followers to purchase candles and other religious paraphernalia that sport images of Jesus with a more accurate historical and geographical representation or even various non-white cultural images that have been created throughout world . For example, what would more historically accurate images look like? Given the region, they would range between something as those shown below:

tumblr_inline_nhdsi4OYxR1qkqzlv Christ Black Jesus

(Image source left; Image source center; Image source right)

Given the historical locations Jesus was said to live are not disputed by most religious groups (whether they believe in Jesus or not) and scholars, how then, did Western society move from a darker Jesus to a very white, and even Americanized Jesus—especially in the U.S.?

Christianity is somewhat complicated because in some traditions, they hold Jesus as Jewish and within the correct historical and geographical location (though with images that reflect a white guy) while in others, particularly some Protestant groups and non-Protestant groups as with the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, they have removed his Semitic significance in history as a Jew, going so far as to suggest he was Aryan or Anglo. Some of these groups have gone so far as to even suggest that the “real Jews” and even “Native Americans” are Aryan or white American and/or Anglo, coupled with mild to extremely modified narratives or interpretations of the Gospels, or through added writings and books said to be written by later prophets. Here, the divine purity only eludes to a white non-Semitic male figure existing outside the historical context in which the Christian theology was originated from.

The problem being addressed here has not to do with the Freedom of Religion, as religious freedom should be a fundamental right for all people. New religions are created all the time with old ones modified. But here the issue is with the racism and sexism that is generated, continuously reproduced, and reinforced through the inaccurate and misleading presentations and beliefs associated with the Semitic Jesus referenced in the Holy Bible. Of concern here is not whether Jesus existed or not, whether he was the Christ and so on, but again, very specifically with the racism, anti-Semitism, and sexism deeply embedded in the religious beliefs and practices.

These white theologies and narratives are so powerful and exclusive that it can be impossible for the theological white racial frame to unite with the theological counter-frames of color in existence and reconcile (see clip of Sean Hannity and Dr. Jeremiah Wright). At times when the theological white racial frame collides with theological counter-frames of color; the white theological frame turns theological counter-framed concepts into inherently racist rhetoric reinforcing various types of racism, such as colorblind racism with this example. This serves to reinforce white Christian theology and ultimately white supremacy.

Some ways to challenge this type of racism and sexism channeled through white theology we are referring to here, is through education that reflects the works of interdisciplinary scholars who have studied Jesus in History, encourage comparative religious studies to be included in general education courses for all students regardless of race and ethnicity, religion, etc. (this would also help minimize things as anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia, etc. ), make available more diverse images of Jesus—particularly the darker skinned conceptions of Jesus, Mary, etc. that more accurately reflect the historical and geographical context of Jesus in history—particularly on items purchases for ritualistic purposes, as with prayer candles. Because many people like to display images of Jesus and the related in their homes, automobiles, and so on, alternative imagery also needs to be made available.

Lastly, because Protestantism is the dominant religion of the U.S., American society needs to place significant respect and value in Black Theology—a rich religious tradition born out of white oppression, as well as other religious traditions that operate out of anti-racist and anti-oppressive religious counter-frames. Such antiracist and anti-oppressive shifts would do much to help our society value and embrace genuine multiculturalism, tolerance of differences in values and beliefs, and work towards honest equality for all people regardless of color, sex, gender, orientation, etc. Such moves would more closely reflect the Jewish religious reformer worshipped by so many, who was said to both preach and practice the genuine love and inclusion of all people—not just “some.”

~ Athena Griffin and Joe Feagin

Reclaiming Holy Week for Racial Justice

Tonight, like so many other folks, I’ll be going to religious services to mark the start of Holy Week. Good Friday, the day in the christian tradition that Jesus was crucified. And for me, this is a day about racial justice.

At my multi-racial, queer, urban church steeped in liberation theology, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson are patron saints, and Good Friday is when we mark the stations of the cross by remembering those who have died as the result of hate crimes and police violence. This inevitably results in a Big Ugly Cry for me, and I will be bringing extra tissues.

It’s a risky thing for an academic to admit having a spiritual life or a religious affiliation, but I mention it here because I think it’s important for people to know that it’s possible to be an intellectual and have a spiritual practice. I also think that we – on the academic, lefty-liberal side of the political spectrum – have ceded conversations about faith to the far-right in the U.S., and that’s at least in part, driven the culture wars.

To be clear, I don’t believe in the made-up white supremacist Jesus that Britney Cooper recently took down so well. For me, Jesus was a marginal character who was outside the power structure in every way. He was down with call-out culture long before social media and called out the Pharisees about their hypocrisy, flipped some tables and staged some protests against the 1% of his day. Ultimately, he was killed for pointing out there was injustice and that some people were benefitting from it. For me, the only kind of prayer I believe in is praying with your feet in a protest march. My decidedly not-mainstream beliefs are rooted in liberation theology.

Radical liberation theology is a theology that proposes that knowledge of God based on revelation leads necessarily to a practice that opposes unjust social and political structures.  When you include this with a specific critique of racial injustice, then you come to what Professor James Cone has called black liberation theology. When Good Friday comes each year, I think of Cone’s book The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis, 2011) in which he focuses on “the Christianization of lynching” as a means of social and political control.

Cross and the Lynching Tree book cover

Not unlike the way Michael Brown’s murdered body was left on display for hours in the hot August sun, the public torture and execution of black bodies were carried out by ‘good Christian folk’ who created spectacles of these killings. It is no coincidence that most of the lynchings from the late 19th to mid-20th century occurred in the Bible Belt, as white supremacy and a particular kind of white Christian identity became linked.

Cone’s challenge to his readers is this:  How do we bear witness to the power of life in the midst of a world awash in violence, lethal inequity and the impoverishment of bodies and souls? How do we celebrate life without being oblivious to those suffering on the cross or a tree?

This year, there’s a national call to action that in many ways, is a response to Cone’s challenge. The call is to make this year a Holy Week of Resistance that will:

“contribute to the manifest liberation struggles of all Oppressed Persons, beginning with Black and Brown Peoples. The love and justice ethic of an unarmed Palestinian Jew named Jesus—who was wrongfully convicted and publicly executed by the empire—spurs us to resist state violence that targets Black and Brown lives today.”

 

The conversation about this call to action is happening, in large part, via a Twitter hashtag #ReclaimHolyWeek.There are several street actions, including two in New York City this afternoon – one at Union Square, the other at One Police Plaza.

An organizer of #ReclaimHolyWeek, Jorge Juan Rodriguez V, explains some of the rationale behind this effort:

Every 28 hours police murder a Black body without any consequence for the killer and yet we who celebrate Palm Sunday continue talking about palms instead of protest. Along the United States-Mexico border countless children are detained, women raped, and individuals killed by border patrol without any record of injustice and yet those of us who celebrate the Last Supper continue raising our forks instead of our fists. In the last four years our government has launched more drone strikes than ever in the history of this country, killing hundreds of innocents, and yet those of us who celebrate Good Friday continue singing hymns instead of halting traffic on the streets. Over the last two years progress achieved on voting rights has been almost completely repealed and yet those of us who celebrate Easter continue searching for eggs instead of equality. We of faith cannot continue to be distracted by the injustice that occurs around us and cater the message of Holy Week to serve of our comfortable living.

As Mavis Staples, sings “my god is a freedom god…”

May your holy week be filled with justice and peace.

Digital Movements: Panel Discusses Racial Justice and Social Media

I attended a panel and performance tonight called “Digital Movements: Black Publics, Black Discourse,” that featured Jasiri X, Jamilah Lemieux, and Alondra Nelson. Hosted by Charlton McIlwain. The panel took up the issue of racial justice and social media in considering questions like: do moments like #BlackLivesMatter constitute a new civil rights movement? This is a storify of some of the live Tweets from the event.

I’m still thinking about the complicated relationship between technology and racial justice that this event surfaced and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it at some point soon, but for now I wanted to collect these initial notes and reactions for pondering further.