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CI: Dispersing the White Fog Enveloping Ferguson

August 20, 2014 at 5:57 pm by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

 

Dispersing the White Fog Enveloping Ferguson

by Kay Whitlock

Starting with the extrajudicial execution of Michael Brown by local police on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a predictable white fog has settled in. It is a miasma, historically resonant, comprised of structural racism and denial of it, policing practices that are race-based and authoritarian, and political/cultural narratives that obfuscate rather than illuminate.

The properties of the miasma are brutally magical: they produce a triumphant white supremacist sleight of hand in which racist reality is refashioned to frame “civil order” and “law enforcement” as the perpetual victims of purportedly “out-of-control, criminal,” and pathologically violent black people – particularly young black people.

A still image taken from raw http://www.thewrap.com/police-tear-gas-not-fired-at-al-jazeera-news-crew-intentionally-video/ shows an Al-Jazeera new team covering protests being tear-gassed by Ferguson police.  When the team members fled, a SWAT team dismantled the equipment setup.

A still image taken from raw
shows an Al-Jazeera new team covering protests being tear-gassed by Ferguson
police. When the team members fled, a SWAT team dismantled the equipment setup.

Law enforcement riots and the repressive deployment of armed force against black people are not the causes of “civil disorder;” rather the cause is located in those who have been denied social and economic justice throughout U.S. history, who are now framed as creators of violence and terror.  Violent policing has vanished as the instigating factor.  No one seems to be considering the idea that those who are not violent, but who defy the curfew, are registering a principled and courageous protest against repressive state power.  Instead, the deployment of ever-greater force, including Missouri’s National Guard, initially sent to protect not the community, but the police command center, becomes its own surreal justification.

It has not yet been two weeks since Brown’s streetside execution, but the white fog just gets thicker, nastier, more toxic.

To help cut through the fog, CI urges you to read these pieces:

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CI: No Justice, Still, for Us

August 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Peace, Finally, for Rodney King/No Justice, Still, for Us
by nancy a heitzeg

For Mike Brown, For Ferguson. For the Unnamed.

Editors Note: In light of the extra-legal police execution of Mike Brown and the ensuing events in Ferguson, Missouri, CI is republishing this piece written two years ago on the occasion of the death of Rodney King.

It is with unsurprised sorrow that we note how little has changed, save for the addition of many names: Jordan Davis, Kimani Gray, Cary Ball, Jr., Jonathan Ferrell, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford. More.

How many times must families grieve, communities explode? How many times must journalists re-write the same tired pieces, must we pretend that there is something called “justice” to be had for the Dead?

Wherever you are, please join us tomorrow in a National Moment of Silence #NMOS14. Please join us every day in saying this “ends today” ,  in saying the systemic siege of community by police state tactics is over. And we must find another way.

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Revelations: “Nature is on Our Side..”

August 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Consumer Rights, Eco-Justice, Economic Development, Economic Terrorism, Imperialism, International Law, Intersectionality, What People are Doing to Change the World

Dr Vandana Shiva, Rights of Nature and Earth Democracy

 

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CI: There Are No Children Here

August 06, 2014 at 5:22 pm by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

 

There Are No Children Here
by nancy a heitzeg

“Racially differential treatment of children is an important yet under-explored arena within social psychology. The present findings suggest how urgently field and laboratory work are needed to fill in this research gap. In addition, they suggest that if, as Alice Walker says, “The most important question in the world is, “Why is the child crying’?” then, for Black children, the most important answer may be that they cry because they are not allowed to be children at all.

~ Goff, P. A., Jackson, M. C., Di Leone, B. A. L., Culotta, C. M., & DiTomasso, N. A. (2014, February 24). The Essence of Innocence: Consequences of Dehumanizing Black Children. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The title of this piece is of course stolen from Alex Kotolowitz whose 1987 book (and then Oprah TV movie) chronicled the lives of two boys growing up in the Henry Horner Homes.  The title is meant to convey how concentrated poverty and its’ attendant social ills deprive children of the joy of innocence and the opportunity to be carefree. But as the introductory quote from this recent study reveals, there is another meaning too. Racism, particularly anti-Blackness, and deeply held implicit biases also disfigure “innocence”, denying Black children both humanity and childhood, defining them as miniature “adults” to be feared and then controlled.

This has profound implications for everyday interaction with adult caretakers, teachers, and police. Those who are expected to protect childhood innocence are now inclined to deny it, and these singular reactions by adults in charge serve to replicate and reinforce institutional racism. This denial of innocence shapes the racial contours of the school to prison pipeline , and , as we have seen again this week, underlies decisions to charge and incarcerate juveniles as adults, and then brutalize them once they are in custody.

Because There Are No Children Here.

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Revelations: “Peace Begins in a Single Chair…”

August 03, 2014 at 9:50 am by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Eco-Justice, Education, Imperialism, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

Ode to the chair

Pablo Neruda (from Odes to Common Things)

vineA chair in the jungle:
under the severe lianas
a sacred tree trunk creaks,
tangles of vines press high,
in the shadows
bloody beasts cry out,
majestic leaves descend from the green sky,
the rattles of snakes
quiver like bells.
A bird spanned the sprawling greenness,
like an arrow shot through a flag,
and branches hoisted high their violins.
Insects
pray in stillness,
seated on their wild bouquets.
Feet sink into
the black sargasso
of the watery jungle,
into the rainforest’s tumbled clouds.
I only request one thing
for the stranger,
for the desperate
explorer,
a chair in the tree of chairs,
a throne,
disheveled and plush,
the velvet of a deep easy chair,
eaten away by creepers.
Yes,
a chair, 
loving the universe, 
for the walkabout man, 
the sure 
foundation, 
the supreme 
dignity 
of rest!

Behind thirsty tigers,
bands of bloodthirsty flies,
behind the black expanse
of ghost-ridden leaves,
behind the low waters,
the thicket like iron,
perpetual snakes,
in the middle
of the thunder,
a chair,
a chair 
for me, 
for everyone,
a chair not 
only for the weary body’s 
rescue, 
but also for everything, 
and for everybody, 
to renew lost strength, 
and for meditation. 

War is wide like the light-starved jungle.
Peace 
begins 
in 

single 
chair.

CI: Defiant Displays of White, Patriarchal Power

July 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

 

Defiant Displays of White, Patriarchal Power
by Kay Whitlock

It’s showtime, and, though they claim otherwise, recent performances by a number of midway carnies, confidence men, and quick change artists have nothing to do with justice.

They have everything to do with the countless ways in which the exercise of white, patriarchal political, social, and economic power in the United States masquerades as “justice.” Sometimes the displays of that power are particularly defiant: actions taken and decisions made and implemented to remind us that no matter what reforms are enacteded, white, patriarchal power remains intact.  It is often deadly, and without serious consequence: it is meant to warn, intimidate, intensify punishment, and silence: If you’re not careful – or lucky – this could happen to you.

carnivale-wallpapers-2Those who exercise or authorize this force are seldom held accountable for the harm they inflict on so many in any meaningful way. We need not rely on conspiracy theories to take note of these things; they are, in this so-called “colorblind” society, conscious as well as (sometimes unconscious) reflexive manifestations of supremacist ideology that have informed U.S. history since the days of colonial contact and the structural violence of chattel slavery.  The messages: your lives don’t matter. We can do anything to you that we want to. Your lives continue or end at our discretion. 

Those at greatest risk are people who are incarcerated and presumptively criminalized peoples: people of color, especially black people, and poor people.

White men  (no surprise here!) inflict much of this harm. But white women and men and women of color may also internalize or otherwise accept the supremacist norms and aura of untrammeled authority that have always permeated policing, the criminal legal system, and the pursuit of safety and security.

And when this power is fundamentally questioned, challenged, or resisted, it ups the ante in violent ways – all under the rubric of safety and security.

For example: Marissa Alexander, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner and “Botched” Executions.

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N.L.R.B. Ruling Holds McDonald’s, Not Just Franchisees, Liable for Worker Treatment

July 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm by: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Workers' Rights

From NYT:

The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Tuesday that McDonald’s is jointly responsible for workers at its franchisees’ restaurants, a decision that if upheld would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide.

Richard F. Griffin Jr., the labor board’s general counsel, said that of the 181 unfair labor practice complaints filed against McDonald’s and its franchisees over the last 20 months, he found that 43 had merit on such grounds as illegally firing or threatening workers for pro-union activities.

In those cases, Mr. Griffin said he would include McDonald’s as a joint employer, a classification that could hold the fast-food company responsible for actions taken at thousands of its restaurants. Roughly 90 percent of the chain’s restaurants in the United States are franchise operations.

McDonald’s said it would contest the decision, warning that the ruling would affect not only the fast-food industry but businesses like dry cleaners and car dealerships.

“McDonald’s can try to hide behind its franchisees, but today’s determination by the N.L.R.B. shows there’s no two ways about it: The Golden Arches is an employer, plain and simple,” said Micah Wissinger, a lawyer in New York who filed some of the cases against McDonald’s. “The reality is that McDonald’s requires franchisees to adhere to such regimented rules and regulations that there’s no doubt who’s really in charge.”

The next stages for the cases could involve Mr. Griffin’s trying to seek a settlement. But the cases more likely will be argued before an administrative law judge.

Revelations: Bed Peace ☮ ☮ ☮

July 27, 2014 at 10:55 am by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Education, Immigration, International Law, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Spirituality, What People are Doing to Change the World

BED PEACE ☮ ☮ ☮

Directed by Yoko Ono & John Lennon
Starring John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Bag Productions
Copyright © 1969 Yoko Ono Lennon.

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