Tag Archives: racism

The Last Hurrah of the “Silent Majority”?

This article was originally posted by Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. 

By Michael Javen Fortner

With audacity and grace, the “Mothers of the Movement” have reminded us of the humanity of their slain children and the inhumanity of the racist practices that took those innocent lives. Standing united at the Democratic National Convention, in the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection, these brave women spoke for the dead. They shared their heart-wrenching stories and exposed the ugly, real-life consequences of so-called “law and order.” Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, who was found hanging in a jail cell after being arrested during a traffic stop, told us that when “a young black life is cut short, it’s not just a personal loss. It is a national loss. It is a loss that diminishes all of us.”

In some corners of the right, these earnest pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Fox News, talk radio, and their consumers never miss the chance to defend police brutality. Voicing the vitriol of a conservative fringe, Rudy Giuliani recently lectured black parents, telling them to “teach your children to be respectful to the police.” Of course, respect did not save Philando Castile’s life or the lives of many others. At the same time, the push for criminal justice reform has been embraced by many conservative intellectuals and officials. Many have begun to acknowledge that black lives have not mattered as much as their colorblind faith suggested they would. They realize that, as the leader of the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, Newt Gingrich, admitted, whites “don’t understand being black in America.”

Almost a half century ago, crime was on the rise. Continue reading The Last Hurrah of the “Silent Majority”?

Challenging Racism at Work

This post was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of New Labor Forum

By Sarah Jaffe

Cameron McLay became chief of police in Pittsburgh in September 2014, tasked by new mayor Bill Peduto with cleaning up the department, after its former chief wound up in federal prison for corruption. This put him in charge at a time when the Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country, calling for an end to police brutality, racial profiling, and the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police officers. When the chief met some of those activists, with the group What’s Up?! Pittsburgh, at community festivities, he posed, in uniform, for an Instagram photo with one of their signs. It read: “I resolve to challenge racism @ work. #EndWhiteSilence.” The photo looked to many like a rare example of a police officer supporting the message of the protesters — the mayor told reporters that he immediately reposted the picture to his own Facebook page.

Continue reading Challenging Racism at Work