The (Chronic) Crisis of Legitimacy in Policing

This guest post is published during the American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia, occurring November 15-18, and in relation to this year’s ASC theme of Crime, Legitimacy and Reform: Fifty years since the President’s Commission #ASCPhilly

By Nikki Jones, author of The Chosen Ones: Black Men and the Politics of Redemption (forthcoming June 2018)

Fifty years ago, in the wake of urban uprisings across the country, the vast majority of which were sparked by a negative police encounter, President Lyndon Johnson charged The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to answer three seemingly simple questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done?

The five problem areas identified then are familiar now: 1) police operations and misconduct in ghetto neighborhoods, 2) police practices that failed to protect Black residents, 3) the lack of effective and transparent grievance processes to report officer misconduct, 4) the lack of clear policy guidelines to direct officer behavior, especially use of force, and 5) the lack of community support for law enforcement.

In answering the President’s charge, the report did not shy away from the topic of race and racism. Instead, the report linked the problem of policing to histories of racist violence (from which millions of Black Americans fled during the Great Migration) and racist housing policies in American cities that turned ghetto neighborhoods into tinderboxes for the urban uprisings the Commission was called on to explain and, ultimately, prevent in the future.

In addition to highlighting the role that systemic racism played in the problems between the police and Black Americans at the time, the report also drew attention to a culture of racism among police departments.

All in all, the report (along with similar state and local reports of the time) had a dramatic impact on policing. Today, America’s largest cities are home to the most well-funded, well-trained, and professionalized law enforcement departments in our nation’s history. State and local law enforcement agencies receive historically unmatched support from the federal government and a vast network of researchers and academics that supports the development and implementation of policing innovations in cities across the country.

While today’s law enforcement agencies are stronger than they have ever been, they are also, if we are to believe some leaders in law enforcement, the most fragile when it comes to responding to charges of racism. This supposed fragility is evidenced in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assertion that the increased scrutiny of law enforcement (or, it seems, any scrutiny at all) is bad for officer morale as well as other calls to quiet (or quash) serious discussion of the ways that race and racism influence policing today.

Fifty years ago, incisive critiques of law enforcement led to monumental changes in policing. Fifty years later, it is clear that much work remains, including the need to acknowledge the historical role that policing has played in enforcing the racial order and reproducing racial inequality in the U.S. – not just in the South and not just decades ago.

Today, the potential for such discussions is limited by the fragility framework and color-blind criminological sound bites (e.g., the common refrain that there are more police contacts in Black neighborhoods because that is where the crime is) that demonstrate a resistance to discussing anything but implicit racism in policing.

Where will that leave us fifty years from now?


Nikki Jones is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence. 


Must-Read Issues for the National Women’s Studies Association Conference

This week, the National Women’s Studies Association is convening in Baltimore for its 40th annual conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “40 YEARS AFTER COMBAHEE: Feminist Scholars and Activists Engage the Movement for Black Lives.” Whether or not you are attending #NWSA17, we invite you to read the following recent issues of DCQR and a virtual issue of FMH, all free for a limited time.

 

DCQR’s Black Feminist Thought Issue
Vol. 5 No. 3, Fall 2016

DCQR’s Black Girlhood Issue
Vol. 6 No. 3, Fall 2017

 

 

Departures in Critical Qualitative Research (formerly Qualitative Communication Research) publishes innovative, experimental, aesthetic, and provocative works on the theories, practices, and possibilities of critical qualitative research. Departures is a forum for scholars in diverse disciplines to converse on, contest, and creatively reimagine the form, purpose, and mission of their work. The journal seeks works charting scholarly and theoretical developments in critical qualitative research, exemplars of methodological innovation, and inventive demonstrations of research as an aesthetic intervention and mode of critique. To subscribe to and/or learn more about the journal, visit http://dcqr.ucpress.edu/.


Special Virtual Issue: Race and Women of Color Feminism in Media Histories

We are pleased to offer this selection of articles from Feminist Media Histories to celebrate the National Women’s Studies Association’s 40th anniversary conference, “40 Years after Combahee: Feminist Scholars and Activists Engage the Movement for Black Lives.”  These articles represent some of the best new work on race and women of color feminism in media histories. Scholars in this special suite of articles examine a variety of media across a range of global contexts to demonstrate the central role that gender plays in media histories and cultures.

 


Debuting at ASA 2017: American Studies Now, a New Series

Taking the 2017 American Studies Association conference by storm the new series edited by past presidents of the ASA American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present offers short, timely books on the issues that matter today.

“We need new ways to publish and distribute the work of American Studies scholars. The monograph and the journal article have a crucial role in our field, but they aren’t serving us well in the undergraduate classroom. And they aren’t putting our work into circulation in the pressing, scary political present. This new series is one new way to address those needs — short, accessible books on Black Lives Matter, climate change, neoliberalism, BDS, the continuing urban crisis, indigenous politics, queer and trans issues, the crises in higher education and more. They are designed to provide timely, provocative analysis for teaching, for activism, and for engagement now.”—Lisa Duggan, past president of the American Studies Association & co-editor of American Studies Now

Much of the most exciting contemporary work in American Studies refuses the distinction between politics and culture—focusing on historical cultures of power and protest on the one hand, or the political importance of cultural practices on the other. With a short production schedule, the titles in American Studies Now are able to cover these political and cultural intersections while such teachable moments are at the center of public conversation.

“Given the constant rush and hum of information in our social media saturated worlds, it’s easy to get stuck in the here and now in ways that make it difficult to take a critical perspective on where we are and how we got there. So American Studies Now reflects not only the urgency of the questions raised by each volume in the series but also suggests what we mean by critical histories of the present — scholarship that helps readers think about contemporary problems in terms of their larger historical, social, and cultural significance.”—Curtis Marez, past president of the American Studies Association & co-editor of American Studies Now

Learn more about this exciting, new series in this Q&A with series editors Lisa Duggan and Curtis Marez, and visit UC Press at booth 405 to browse the books. Heading to the conference? Be sure to check out the following session:

  • American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present
    Fri, November 10, 4:00 to 5:45pm
    With UC Press Executive Editor Niels Hooper, series editors Lisa Duggan and Curtis Marez, and series authors Scott Kurashige, Sunaina Maira, Barbara Ransby, Shelley Streeby, and Macarena Gomez-Barris
    View session details here

For more author sessions at ASA, and to see what else we’ll have on view, head here.


Heading to ASA? Save 40% on These American Studies Titles

From searing critiques of power and wealth, to in-depth investigations of race, gender, and class to cultural histories of activism and social justice, these new releases will inspire the way you think about America today. Visit UC Press at the American Studies Association conference (booth 405) to save 40% on these titles and more. To take early advantage of our conference discount—and see just a sample of what will be on view—visit our ASA landing page.

We’re especially excited to debut the new series American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present, edited by past presidents of the ASA Lisa Duggan and Curtis Marez. Offering broad context provided by deeply knowledgeable American Studies scholars and activists, these short, timely books address the political and cultural issues that matter now. Learn more about American Studies Now from the series editors. 

Take Note of These ASA Sessions:

  • American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present
    With UC Press Executive Editor Niels Hooper, series editors Lisa Duggan and Curtis Marez, and series authors Scott Kurashige, Sunaina Maira, Barbara Ransby, Shelley Streeby, and Macarena Gomez-Barris
    View session here
  • Rethinking History and Methods in the American Studies Classroom 
    Join Philip Deloria and Alexander Olson, authors of of American Studies: A User’s Guide, as they discuss how renewed attention to method might change the way American Studies is taught in the classroom and beyond
    View session here
  • Roderick Ferguson, author of We Demand: The University and Student Protests
    View all sessions here
  • Jack Halberstam, author of Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability 
    View all sessions here
  • Barbara Ransby, author of the forthcoming Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century
    View all sessions here
  • Josh Kun, editor of The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles
    View session here
  • Sharon Luk, author of The Life of Paper: Letters and a Poetics of Living Beyond Captivity
    View session here
  • Simeon Man, author of the forthcoming Soldiering through Empire: Race and the Making of the Decolonizing Pacific
    View session here

Browse more new & notable American Studies Titles.


The Fifth Element: A Two-Day Global Symposium and Think Tank

by Casey Philip Wong, in collaboration with H. Samy Alim and Jeff Chang


On November 8th and 9th, Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA) will host an international community of scholars, artists, and educators for a ground-breaking symposium, “The 5th Element: The Future and Promise of Hip Hop Pedagogy.” The free and public two-day global symposium and think tank takes place at the Graduate School of Business Common. Attendees will collectively engage in intellectual inquiry to discuss the future and promise of Hip Hop pedagogy as a growing academic field, and as a social justice-based, global educational movement.

Flier for The Fifth Element Hip Hop Pedagogy Symposium and Think Tank

The symposium begins with UCLA Professor H. Samy Alim and IDA Executive Director Jeff Chang, who will frame the breadth and importance of Hip Hop pedagogy in this current political and educational moment. Dr. Alim will theorize Hip Hop in relation to Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy and host a screening and dialogue of the critically-acclaimed, South African Hip Hop documentary Afrikaaps, along with a featured performer in the film, the legendary Hip Hop artist and educator, Emile YX? of Black Noise and Heal the Hood in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Keynote Panel will offer a discussion with world-renowned Hip Hop feminists: Joan Morgan, Brittney Cooper, Treva Lindsey and Kaila Story. They will discuss how Hip Hop feminism is rigorously pushing Hip Hop toward liberation—pedagogically, epistemologically, and ethically—in ways that offer implications for how we teach young women and girls, specifically, and future directions for Hip Hop educators and scholars, more generally.

Student participants at hip hop pedagogy symposium

The first day will also feature four simultaneous workshops with leading Hip Hop artists, educators and scholars to share their scholarship and dynamic teaching practices with youth. A featured panel, “Exploring the Past, Present and Future of Indigenous Hip Hop Pedagogy,” facilitated by Tim San Pedro, will highlight the groundbreaking indigenous educators and artists of the Dream Warriors (Tanaya Winder, Tall Paul, Frank Waln and Mic Jordan) whose work bears testament to how Hip Hop pedagogy is transforming the lives of indigenous youth. Other featured workshops will be offered by the co-founders of the award-winning Hip Hop organization operating out of Chicago, Kuumba Lynx; Bay Area teaching artist Itoco Garcia-Davenport and elementary school principal Elliot Gann; and Keith Cross, a freestyle lyricist, scholar and teaching artist, who will feature an innovative, interactive presentation of expert freestyle lyricists’ neurological processing of rhyme.

Classroom image of hip hop pedagogy symposium

While thinking globally, the symposium will also highlight how scholars and organizers are acting locally. The IDA Arts and Education Project, presented by Casey Philip Wong, Measha Ferguson Smith, Adorie Howard and Reagan Ross, will share their research findings on the Hip Hop arts ecosystem in East Palo Alto, California and offer a new frame for understanding the impact of Hip Hop pedagogy by exploring the work of an exemplary community-based Hip Hop organization led by Executive Director Tefferi Mogus Brook, the Music Mural and Arts Project (MMAP), and a performing arts program within a public charter high school, East Palo Alto Academy (EPAA), led by teacher Andy Robinson. The presentation will feature performances, scholarly debate, and open dialogue with audience members.

Day two offers a rare opportunity for debate and discussion among educators, artists and scholars making use of Hip Hop pedagogy to teach youth. The gathering will center practitioners and praxis. Co-presented with the Hip Hop Education Center, the “Think Tank IV: It’s Yours! Sustaining and Reimagining Our Movement” will open with networking and youth performances before launching into two hours of facilitated conversations led by Youth Speaks’ Michelle Lee. Gabriel “Asheru” Benn, Adia Winfrey, Martha Diaz, Melina Jones, Allegra Gilfenbaum, Rahman Jamaal and Sam Seidel will engage in critical exchanges around the best practices and needs of teaching artists. The conversation will present the Hip Hop Education Center Platform, a digital interface developed to support and sustain the collaboration of Hip Hop teaching artists from around the world.

To register: diversityarts.stanford.edu/5ESymposium

*IDA would like to acknowledge the Surdna Foundation, whose generous support has allowed us to explore Hip Hop pedagogies over the last four years and to host this convening.


Casey Philip Wong is a PhD Candidate in the Race, Inequality, and Language in Education Program at Stanford University and Assistant Investigator for the IDA Arts and Education Project. He is also Founding Director of the TRIUMPH After-School Program, which utilizes critical feminisms, hip-hop and martial arts to mentor, inspire and empower youth.

H. Samy Alim is the David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences at UCLA and Jeff Chang is Executive Director of IDA at Stanford University. They are the series editors for UC Press’ new Hip Hop Studies Series.

Tyina Steptoe Wins the 2017 WHA W. Turrentine-Jackson Award

We’re pleased to announce that Tyina Steptoe, author of Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City is the winner of the 2017 Western History Association W. Turrentine-Jackson Award for Best First Book on the History of the American West.

The W. Turrentine-Jackson Award, carrying a $1,000 stipend, is presented to a beginning professional historian for a first book on any aspect of the history of the American West. Presses may submit more than one book. Tyina Steptoe will be awarded this prize at the Western History Association’s annual conference in San Diego, CA.

“Tyina Steptoe pushes the historical and theoretical boundaries of Borderlands and Black Studies to produce a magnificent relational history of Blacks, Creoles, whites, and Mexicans in Houston.  The stories she uncovers remind us of the indelible historical and cultural links between these communities. Houston Bound will dramatically expand how we think about the history of race, politics, and popular culture in Houston and, more broadly, the confederate South.”
—Gaye Theresa Johnson, Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies and Black Studies, University of California—Los Angeles.

Hear more about Houston Bound from Tyina Steptoe on this episode of Jacobin’s The Dig podcast.

Many congratulations to Prof. Steptoe!


Black against Empire: Read, Resist, Repeat

Photo via @SFPublicLibrary on Twitter

“You can’t sit in against poverty. You can’t sit in against police brutality.”
—Joshua Bloom

“You have to dream a different world… The Party was totally committed to action.”
—Waldo E. Martin Jr.

This past Sunday in front of a full house at the San Francisco Public Library, Black against Empire authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. spoke with journalist Davey D Cook about the Black Panther Party’s legacy and how the movement continues to impart important lessons for today, especially for those interested in political organizing.

While programming for One City One Book winds down in November, copies of Black against Empire can be found in all San Francisco libraries and at bookstores around the city. Enhance your reading with discussion questions, images from the library’s archives, and the Party’s ten-point program.

November Events

Revolution 67 Thursday, November 2, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

An illuminating account of the six-day Newark, N.J. outbreak on July 12, 1967. The film reveals how the disturbance began as spontaneous revolts against poverty and police brutality and ended as fateful milestones in America’s struggles over race and economic justice.

The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords Thursday, November 9, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

An engaging historical account that tells the story of the pioneering men and women of the Black press who gave voice to Black America.

Good Hair Thursday, November 16, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

Prompted by a question from his young daughter, comic Chris Rock sets out to explore the importance of hair in black culture

Art and Activism Exhibit Through November 30, Main Library, 4th Floor Rotunda & Grove Street exhibit space 100 Larkin St.

Artwork of Emory Douglas, Melanie Cervantes and Faviana Rodriguiz Using bold colors and high contrast images, these artists’ works reflect both the local and global community and their resistance in a struggle to create a new world.

View the Complete Fall Program


The Irrepressible Politics of the Black Panther Party

This Sunday, if you’re in the Bay Area, join Black against Empire authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin for a special One City One Book event. They’ll discuss the history and politics of the Black Panther Party and how the movement links to today’s political landscape and struggles.

Sunday, October 29 at 1 p.m.
Main Library, Koret Auditorium
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA
Free and open to the public, visit the event page for more info

To prepare for the event or for your own conversations, consider the following questions, provided by the San Francisco Public Library.

BOOK DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1 How did the party’s hierarchical structure affect its dynamics and its ultimate impact?

2 What drew thousands of new recruits to the Black Panther Party’s message of violent revolution in an era otherwise marked by the peaceful protests of the civil-rights movement?

3 In an iconic photo that was displayed in most Black Panther Party offices, Huey P. Newton is depicted with an ironclad grip on a rifle. What do you see as the difference between the Black Panthers’ perspective on gun rights and that of the modern-day National Rifle Association?

4 How did government policies like defamation, espionage, and the embedding of provocateurs affect the party’s momentum?

5 One of the central arguments in Black against Empire is that what lay behind the Black Panther Party’s growth and influence, what made them synonymous with the Black Power Movement rather than the many other contemporary black nationalist organizations, was their ability to form alliances and coalitions—namely with moderate, more establishment black organizations, white student leftists, sympathetic revolutionary governments abroad and Latino, Native American and Asian radical groups in the U.S. How difficult was it to maintain and balance such alliances, to keep people within the party on board and to avoid being co-opted by less militant groups? What, if any, prospects do you see for any similar alliances being formed for contemporary revolutionary politics in urban America?

6 The rise of the Black Panther Party coincided with some of the largest urban uprisings in US history: Watts in 1965 and Newark, and Detroit in 1967. In the last two years we have seen similar rebellions in Ferguson, Baltimore and elsewhere. In many cases in both the 60s and today, the spark has been a police murder or assault on a black person. What parallels do you see between these periods?

7 The Black Panther, the Party’s newspaper, played a central role in the movement. It provided information of relevance about local, national and international struggles. It was also used as a powerful propaganda tool against the state and for internal discipline within the Party increasingly for its announcements of Party members being purged. Its circulation reached 150,000. Discuss the impact and effect of a media tool controlled by the Party. What are the parallels to the media of today?

8 The sheer extent of COINTELPRO infiltration, agent provocateurs and state-sanctioned murder of Panthers only became known years after the Party’s demise, though the campaign of vilification and repression by the US government was clear to Panthers at the time. Today in the U.K., as in the U.S., the state is widening its conceptions of ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists’, continuing to criminalize those who organize against state oppression. How did the Panthers cope with the widespread propaganda offensive against them? To what extent did heavy state repression galvanize support for the party and was it state infiltration that was more damaging? What lessons can contemporary movements learn from state interference with the Party?

View the Program Guide for Remaining Events


Transforming Shattered Grounds into New Beginnings

by Christina Zanfagna, author of Holy Hip Hop in the City of Angels

At UC Press, open access—the free, immediate, unrestricted, online access to peer-reviewed research and scholarly work—is central to our mission. In celebration of 2017 International Open Access Week (October 23-29), we are highlighting open access publishing initiatives at UC Press, including our Collabra and Luminos publishing programs. This year’s OA Week theme “Open in order to . . . ” is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realized by making scholarly publications openly available. Follow the full blog series here#OAWeek #OpenInOrderTo


The United States has witnessed an onslaught of catastrophic upheavals of both nature and culture in the second half of 2017—from the deadly Charlottesville, VA attack on protesters at a “Unite the Right” rally to the series of torrential hurricanes sweeping through the Gulf Coast and Caribbean to the mass shooting that killed 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas, CA. And now, as I write this, Northern California still smolders from deadly wildfires that have reduced whole neighborhoods to piles of ash and claimed more than forty lives.

How can we make sense of this level of loss and tragedy? Where can we find the imagination, strength, and beauty to transform these shattered grounds into new beginnings?

Folks in Southern California—an area that is no stranger to these kinds of disastrous environmental and social eruptions—were faced with these same questions in the 1990s after four major earthquakes rattled through the Southland. The Joshua Tree earthquake (M6.1), Landers earthquake (M7.3), and Big Bear (M6.5) earthquake, which all struck in 1992, and the Northridge earthquake of 1994 (M6.7), in addition to the mass flooding and firestorms that followed, caused over $43 billion of damage. 1992 also witnessed the rioting, looting, and arson that exploded in the wake of the Rodney King beating by five LAPD officers and their subsequent acquittal by a mainly white jury. Out of the ashes of these costly and calamitous events, Angelenos forged new modes of creativity and connection: the Bloods and the Crips brokered a historic gang truce in south L.A., community churches were erected in place of Western Surplus gun stores, and a subset of brown and black youth decided to share their struggles and aspirations through holy hip hop—sacred rhymes over hip hop beats that delivered wholeness, holiness, and hope.

These are the L.A. stories and soundings that permeate my book, Holy Hip Hop in the City in the Angels. They have a lot to teach us about the far-reaching effects of disaster as well as the power of creative practices of renewal. Sometimes music and art are the only way to make sense of such chaotic and widespread trauma. While the losses are real and must be meaningfully grieved, destruction also creates the conditions of possibility for transformations of all kinds. New ideas, expressions, and structures must emerge, even as they are necessarily grounded in the broken earth from which they spring forth. What artful spark will ignite the efforts to reimagine and rebuild in such turbulent times?


Christina Zanfagna is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Ethnic Studies at Santa Clara University.

Holy Hip Hop in the City in the Angels is published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy of the book.

Sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more about future Luminos publications and other Luminos news.


A Peek into the San Francisco Public Library’s Archives on the Black Panthers

With One City One Book programming for Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party in full swing, the San Francisco Public Library invited UC Press staff to delve into the Black Panther Party archives. On the library’s 6th floor, the History Center holds a comprehensive research collection on all aspects of San Francisco life and history, and for this trip, we viewed original manuscripts, newspapers and magazines, photographs, pamphlets, police records, Mayoral papers, and more documenting the Black Panther Party as well as San Francisco’s legacy of resistance.

Take a look below, and to get an up close show-and-tell of Black Panther Party history, join the SF Public Library for Hands on History: All Power to the People on October 10 & 24 at 6 p.m.

And be sure to join Black against Empire authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin. Jr. as they discuss the genesis, rise and decline of the Black Panther Party and the movement’s link to today’s struggles, October 29, 1 p.m.

View all upcoming One City One Book events