SafetyIs: A Night Out for Real Talk About Structural Injustice

Why Better Policing Won't Save Us Tuesday, August 2 - 7 p.m. - Ward AME Church 1177 West 25th Street - Los Angeles Free and Open to All he LAPD and other police departments around the US are calling Tuesday night "A Night Out Against Crime." They basically want communities motivated by fear to rally around law enforcement. Our Night Out for Safety and Liberation is about hope and change, not fear. We invite YOU to be part of an open conversation on 40 years of deliberate disinvestment in … [Read more...]

Is a Police Shooting a Crime? It Depends on the Officer’s Point of View

The black teenager had just reached into his waistband for what the New York City police officer assumed was a gun. As the officer, Richard Haste, later told a Bronx grand jury, he thought he was about to die. In that instant, Officer Haste pictured Thanksgiving, with everyone gathered around, except him. He imagined his girlfriend walking their dog, without him, according to an account of the officer’s testimony provided by his lawyer, Stuart London. Officer Haste fired a single … [Read more...]

A Post-Dallas Challenge for Religious Progressives

Staying On Message about Structural Racism The easily-predicted meme of the moment coming from law enforcement officials and their many political allies is a threefold rebuke to the entire criminal justice reform movement—not just #BlackLivesMatter but all of us who consider fighting the mass criminalization of people of color (and the engineered economic immiseration of people of color—most specifically Black people) to be the nation’s most urgent unfinished business. The three main “beats” … [Read more...]

A History of White Delusion

In 1962, 85 percent of white Americans told Gallup that black children had as good a chance as white kids of getting a good education. The next year, in another Gallup survey, almost half of whites said that blacks had just as good a chance as whites of getting a job. In retrospect, we can see that these white beliefs were delusional, and in other survey questions whites blithely acknowledged racist attitudes. In 1963, 45 percent said that they would object if a family member invited a black … [Read more...]

Obama Says Black Lives Matter. But He Doesn’t Ensure They Do

Just days after several violent, deadly attacks on black people at the hands of the police, ABC invited families, organizers, officers and more to join Barack Obama in a town hall to discuss race relations in America. The idea was to offer space for reconciliation and those in attendance were told that we would have an opportunity to engage in a conversation on trust and safety in our communities. Among those in the room were pastor Traci Blackmon; Cameron Sterling, son of Alton Sterling, who … [Read more...]

Jackie Lacey Desecrates California Anti-Lynching Law

I was a high school senior when Emmet Till was lynched – mature enough for its horror to register with me. But the reality of lynching didn’t become deeply personal until June 22, 1964, at Miami University in Ohio when SNCC trainers announced to us SNCC trainees for the Mississippi Freedom Summer that James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were missing, Even though their bodies were not uncovered until several months later, we immediately knew their being missing meant they were … [Read more...]

UTLA Meets Black Lives Matter

his February, I was attending the California Teachers Association Good Teaching Conference in Garden Grove with other educators when we learned that the Ku Klux Klan was staging a rally in nearby Anaheim. I was in the CTA Black Caucus meeting. The tension in the room was palpable. People were shocked. I wasn’t, but that may be because I grew up in an area in northeast San Fernando Valley that was home to an active Ku Klux Klan chapter. Over the years I have had colleagues and friends tell me … [Read more...]

The Matter of Black Lives

A new kind of movement found its moment. What will its future be? On February 18th, as part of the official recognition of Black History Month, President Obama met with a group of African-American leaders at the White House to discuss civil-rights issues. The guests—who included Representative John Lewis, of Georgia; Sherrilyn Ifill, the director-counsel of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Wade Henderson, who heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—were … [Read more...]

Drug Policy Reform and #BlackLivesMatter Movements

At a time when the nation reflects and focuses on the history, contributions and lives of Black Americans, our recent International Drug Policy Reform Conference’s town hall presents a profoundly relevant conversation on the extensive intersection of drug policy and Black communities. Check out this powerful discussion about race, the drug war, and the intersection of the #BlackLivesMatter and drug policy reform movements: We know that marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. … [Read more...]

Another Dimension to “Black Lives Matter”

The Washington Post’s landmark survey of police shootings in 2015 found that around twice as many people were shot to death by police than others, including this author, had estimated from FBI and public health sources. In a large majority of deadly police shootings, officers killed suspects armed with lethal weapons; none of those shootings appear to be controversial. The controversy over possibly unjustified police shootings surrounds the fewer than one in 10 instances in which unarmed … [Read more...]