Prof. Joshua Freeman on WNYC’s United States of Anxiety

In the lead up to the election, WNYC and the Nation are producing The United States of Anxietya series aimed at exploring the lives and stories of “people trying to hold on to their piece of the American Dream and others who are looking to build one.”

The latest episode, “White Like Me,” dives into experiences of race, dreams and perceptions of some Long Island, and it features Murphy Prof. Joshua Freeman. Prof. Freeman describes how party politics in early US history helped produce the existing racial dynamics in the United States — and also set the tone for the spectacle-like politics we experience today.

Listen here.

Is this the Bad Kind of Unionism?

This article was originally featured in Jacobin and represents one of many perspectives on the question of police and unions.

On Friday, October 21st, 2016, the Murphy Institute hosted Black, Brown and Blue, a conversation bringing together academics, activists, students, and practitioners to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movements’ place and responsibility within it.

By Shawn Gude

Their profession is heavily unionized. Culturally, they have more in common with bus drivers than business executives. Many come from working-class backgrounds.

Yet on the beat, police come in contact with — to question, to arrest, to brutalize — the most disadvantaged. This presents a problem for radicals. If the Left stands for anything, it’s worker emancipation and labor militancy. But police and others in the state’s coercive apparatus, workers themselves in many respects, are the keepers of class society. Their jobs exist to maintain social control and protect the status quo. Continue reading Is this the Bad Kind of Unionism?

Police Organization Chief Apologizes for Mistreatment of Minorities

On Friday, October 21st, 2016, the Murphy Institute hosted Black, Brown and Blue, a conversation bringing together academics, activists, students, and practitioners to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movements’ place and responsibility within it.

This week, an important — if controversial — announcement came from an unlikely place. Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, apologized for the the historical role of law enforcement have in the mistreatment of minorities, calling it a “dark side of our shared history.” From the Associated Press:

Cunningham […] said at the group’s annual conference that police have historically been a face of oppression, enforcing laws that ensured legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights. He was not more specific.

Cunningham said today’s officers are not to blame for past injustices. He did not speak in detail about modern policing, but said events over the past several years have undermined public trust. His comments come as police shootings of black men have roiled communities in Ferguson, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota; and as black shooters have targeted officers in Dallas, the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin and Baton Rouge.

“While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future,” Cunningham said. “We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities.

“For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the (International Association of Chiefs of Police) to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color,” he said.


New Labor Forum Highlights: Oct. 17th, 2016

NLF Editorial Board Member Adolph Reed starts this issue of Highlights with a pushback. While the increased attention to police brutality and the injustice of our criminal justice system is essential, Reed argues that the one-dimensional focus on race obscures an understanding of the “ immensely fortified and self-reproducing institutional and industrial structure” of the carceral state. An exclusive focus on racial disparities in the criminal justice system, he also contends, hinders the building of a broad coalition to upend it. This isn’t a new conversation. Yet it gets to the heart of a long-standing divide concerning “identity politics.” In 2010 we hosted a debate  between Walter Benn Michaels and Alethia Jones, usefully engaging this set of issues.

We’re also highlighting a recent article by New Labor Forum columnist Sarah Jaffe that illuminates a set of challenges to organized labor implicit in the tragedy of police killings of people of color. On the one hand, unions are called to stand up for justice, and in recent years, some have stood against police brutality and mass incarceration. On the other hand, law enforcement unions have a right to exist and to defend their members. This historic tension has bubbled up following the rise of Black Lives Matter. The Murphy Institute is hosting a forum on the topic later this month, and a larger two-day conference in April.

Table of Contents:

  1. How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence by Adolph Reed, Jr
  2. Identity Politics: Part of a Reinvigorated Class Politics by Alethia Jones
  3. Identity Politics: A Zero-Sum Game by Walter Benn Michaels
  4. Black Labor Organizers Urge AFL-CIO to Reexamine Its Ties to the Police by Sarah Jaffe
  5. Event: Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement Unionism & Communities Of Color Forum, October 21, 2016
  6. SAVE THE DATE: Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement Unionism & Communities Of Color Conference, April 28-29, 2017    

Photo by Gerry Lauzon via flickr (CC-BY)

Cooperative Business and the State of Higher Education

Cooperative business models are increasingly recognized as an essential element for transforming our economy. But where can you go to learn about them?

In a recent article in the Chronicle Review (Curricular Cop-out on Coops), Nathan Schneider offers a somewhat dispiriting picture of the higher education landscape for cooperative economics. He writes:

Education has been a basic feature of the modern cooperative movement since a group of textile workers established its now-canonical Rochdale Principles in 1844; promoting education is still part of how the International Co-operative Alliance defines cooperative identity.

And yet, MBA and other business-focused programs, while they appear to move increasingly away from profit-only models, mostly avoid mention of anything cooperative. For example, “At Harvard Business School […] Rebecca M. Henderson has written the latest in a decades-long series of Harvard case studies on Mondragon, and she teaches it in her “Reimagining Capitalism” course. As far as she knows, though, that’s the extent of exposure to co-ops available at the school.” Continue reading Cooperative Business and the State of Higher Education

Decolonize This Museum: An Indigenous Peoples’ Day Action

On Monday, residents of cities and states around the country celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. New Yorkers, meanwhile, observed a holiday with what, for many, is an offensive and outdated name: Columbus Day.

Cities like Seattle, Denver and Phoenix have all renamed the civic holiday in honor of the indigenous people on whose land America was founded, rather than the colonial conqueror who claimed it in the name of Europeans. But New York City has yet to make such a move. For indigenous activists and their allies, this failure is part of a long chain of white supremacist actions, aggressions and traumas, the symbols of which are visible throughout the city.

One such symbol is a 10-foot tall statue in front of the American Museum of Natural History. The statue features Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, flanked on one side by an African man and on the other, an indigenous man: a starkly racist image of a colonialist history. This past Monday, hundreds of activists came together to cover the statue with a parachute and “Decolonize This Place,” demanding both the removal of the statue and the renaming of the holiday. Continue reading Decolonize This Museum: An Indigenous Peoples’ Day Action

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