Tag Archives: violence

Crime, Punishment and the Black Community: the Untold Story of the Rockefeller Drug Laws

Next month marks the launch of Murphy Professor Michael Javen Fortner’s eye-opening new book, Black Silent Majority: the Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment. A controversial and important account of the role that some in the African-American community played in encouraging punitive policies during the 1970s, in particular the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the book asks vital questions about agency, history and how we can strive for real peace and justice in an era of mass incarceration.

Today, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article on Fortner and Black Silent Majority (Defending Their Homes: How crime-terrorized African-Americans helped spur mass incarceration, by Marc Parry, Aug 3rd, 2015). In it, Parry describes Fortner’s engagement with Michelle Alexander’s explosive 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness:

What vexed Fortner was that The New Jim Crow seemed to be two different books. One did a powerful job showing how mass incarceration undermines black communities and perpetuates racial inequality. The other — and this was the vexing part — advanced a political theory about how we got here. That history stressed the resilience of white supremacy. First came slavery; when slavery ended, a white backlash brought Jim Crow segregation; when Jim Crow crumbled, a backlash to the civil-rights movement spawned yet another caste system, mass incarceration. Each time, writes Alexander, an associate professor of law at Ohio State University, proponents of racial hierarchy achieved their goals “largely by appealing to the racism and vulnerability of lower-class whites.” Continue reading Crime, Punishment and the Black Community: the Untold Story of the Rockefeller Drug Laws

#CharlestonSyllabus Brings Context to Tragedy

How can institutions of higher education spread critical understanding of and context for significant current events? How can we use social media to become more conscious about race, about our history, and about how to be better activists, allies and participants in the civic sphere?

#CharlestonSyllabus is the Twitter hashtag started by Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and African-American studies at Brandeis University, in the wake of the recent tragedy in Charleston, SC. Prof. Williams sought to use the hashtag to aggregate “historical knowledge that frames contemporary racial violence and its deep roots,” inspired by the #FergusonSyllabus hashtag from last summer. From an interview with Prof. Williams by Stacey Patton at the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Q. Where is the #CharlestonSyllabus hosted, and what kind of measurable response have you seen so far?

A. It’s on the African American Intellectual History Society’s website. Since Saturday, when it went up, it’s had over 55,000 views, averaging 900 an hour. It’s gotten almost 20,000 likes on Facebook, 13,000 mentions and 28,000 engagements on Twitter. We’ve had a few trolls who’ve tried to hijack the thread with rants about how the Confederate flag is not a racist symbol but a source of Southern heritage and pride. But over all, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. By Sunday we had about 10,000 suggestions of books, articles, and other documents.

Continue reading #CharlestonSyllabus Brings Context to Tragedy