“Oh my god, look at what you did to him”

By now you’ve likely seen the video (maybe it’s already old news, in fact), when a passenger on a United Airlines flight in the US was forcibly removed from the jet in order to make room for United employees. Continue reading ““Oh my god, look at what you did to him””

On Privileges that are Not Universally Shared

privilegeAnyone who knows me knows that I walk my dog early each morning — lately I’m regularly going to a nearby park where, well, Izzy goes regularly as well. But every now and then I change it up a little — variety is the spice of life and all that — and so I park here and we walk there or park over there and then we walk here. Sometimes I park in one of the lots but other times I pull over off the small loop of a road and park on the grassy shoulder. Continue reading “On Privileges that are Not Universally Shared”

Expanding the Terrorist Label

NYDailyNewsRobert Dear’s attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs just over a week ago and the shooting in San Bernardino last week have brought the question of who is identified as a terrorist back into the limelight. Lots of people have highlighted how the ethnicity or religious identification of the attacker has often influenced whether the attacker is identified as a terrorist or a mentally disturbed individual in a lone wolf attack. The Daily News cover following the San Bernardino shootings (4 December 2015, pictured above) illustrated this critique by identifying Ronald Dear, Dylan Roof, Adam Lanza, and James Holmes as terrorists, as well as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. In this cover and statements from figures like Mike Huckabee (calling Dear’s actions “domestic terrorism”), the critiques of the reluctance to apply the terrorist label to white Christian attackers have won a victory, of sorts. Continue reading “Expanding the Terrorist Label”

Authorizing Authority: Some Notes from May Day

IMG_0169

While spending a few days in Montreal, my partner and I (and our 16-month-old) were detoured several times while walking back to our hotel from an event at McGill University (though I did manage to snap a few pictures of what was going on, which I’ve included in this post). It was May Day, which many may associate simply with maypoles and flowers, a la Guinevere’s pastoral frolicking in Camelot, but which is also International Workers’ Day—a celebration and reminder of the important roles played around the world by those in working classes who often go forgotten in conversations on public policy and legislative prioritization. Of course, some tend to think of the September Labor Day in the U.S. as a day off and a chance to toss some burgers on the grill. But the May date for International Workers’ Day was chosen in the late 19th century to commemorate the so-called Haymarket affair of 1886, which began as a group of workers demanding an eight-hour work day and protesting the deaths of some workers the day prior at the hands of the police during what had been an nonviolent rally. When someone in the crowd tossed a bomb during the demonstration at Haymarket Square, the police began shooting. Eleven people were killed, and many were wounded. Continue reading “Authorizing Authority: Some Notes from May Day”

Creating History

58499153_e0c220ec61_o

This is the second of two posts from the Edge on what is currently happening in Baltimore…

History-making involves the creation of connections between events that generate meaning and order. It is really the same as any storytelling, where the creator of the (hi)story decides what characters, actions, and elements fit together to construct a meaningful narrative. These storytellers, whether historians, journalists, or novelists, have significant power to construct the narrative of events in ways that reinforce preferred ideologies, assumptions, and stereotypes. Continue reading “Creating History”

The Well-Intentioned Racist

Target practice

As Americans today celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, many of us continue to grapple with how to contextualize and understand the recent deaths of several young black American men at the hands of the police. This need to explain is thrown into even starker relief with the very recent story that black men’s photos are being used for target practice by the North Miami Beach police department. The chief of police insists that this is a case of “poor judgment,” not racism, because those officers taking aim at the targets are themselves multi-racial, and because other races are portrayed in other targets. As one might expect, however, at least one of the black men whose face became a target is not personally reassured, saying, “Now I’m being used as a target? … I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a career man. I work 9-to-5.”

It may seem quite paradoxical to discuss a “well-intentioned racist,” but arguably, there is usually no other kind. I am often amazed by how we expect that racism (or discrimination, more generally) is something committed by self-described bigots. Like many others who study and teach about social dynamics, I frequently tell my students that prejudicial behaviors and attitudes are not only ubiquitous, but also quite mundane — they are simply the old recipe of one part distinction and another part essentialization — and they are used to stir the stew of social power. Continue reading “The Well-Intentioned Racist”