One Friday last May, the sun had not yet risen when a SWAT team ignited a flash-bang grenade outside Marvin Guy’s apartment in Killeen, Texas. Officers were trying to climb in through a window when Guy, who had a criminal record and was suspected of possessing cocaine, opened fire. Four officers were hit; one of them was killed.
Five months earlier, 100 miles away, a SWAT officer was shot during a predawn no-knock raid on another house. In that case, too, police threw a flash-bang grenade and tried to enter the residence. Henry “Hank” Magee, according to his attorney, grabbed his gun to protect himself and his pregnant girlfriend. “As soon as the door was kicked in, he shot at the people coming through the door,” says his attorney, Dick DeGuerin. With his legally owned semi-automatic .308 rifle, Magee killed one of the officers.
The cases are remarkably similar, except for one thing: Guy is black, Magee white. And while Magee was found to have acted in self-defense, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Guy. He remains in jail while he awaits trial.
Who has a right to self-defense? October 28, 2014
Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen” reviewed in the New Yorker: quote added October 26, 2014
[My iPad refused to quote from the review, but the MAC air was happy to, so I'm sharing a bit.]
“Citizen: an American Lyric” has been short-listed for the National Book Award, and it is recently reviewed in the New Yorker. It is, the review says, especially important in this time, where injustices occur while the illusion of justice is perfected. One could hardly say the society she experiences is post-racial.
The poet Claudia Rankine’s new volume, her fifth, is “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf), a book-length poem about race and the imagination. Rankine has called it an attempt to “pull the lyric back into its realities.” Those realities include the acts of everyday racism—remarks, glances, implied judgments—that flourish in an environment where more explicit acts of discrimination have been outlawed. “Citizen,” which has been short-listed for the National Book Award, suggests that a contemporary “American lyric” is a weave of artfully juxtaposed intensities, a quarrel within form about form.
The review points out that its genre is hard to pin down. It reminded me startingly of the blog, What is it like to be a woman in philosophy. One might, of course, worry about what is not explicit about killing an unarmed young black man, but we can get their meaning.
Another word for what Rankine is exposing is “microagressions.” Readers might find the following blog interesting:
Is The Economist now The Onion? September 5, 2014
I’m asking because I just came across this line, in a critique of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, a book about slavery in America:
Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.
[Edit: I was so stunned, I forgot the link. Here it is.]
José vs. Joe September 3, 2014
Of course, we’ve posted about issues discrimination and bias issues with resumes before, so this will not be surprising to our readers, but it’s a subject worth revisiting (and I was pleased to see this from a source like BuzzFeed!).
From the Huffington Post:
His name is José Zamora, and he had a routine.
During his months-long job search, he says he logged onto his computer every morning and combed the internet for listings, applying to everything he felt qualified for. In the Buzzfeed video above, he estimates that he sent out between 50 to 100 resumes a day — which is, in a word, impressive.
But Zamora said he wasn’t getting any responses, so on a hunch, he decided to drop the “s” in his name. José Zamora became Joe Zamora, and a week later, he says his inbox was full.
As he explains in the video, “Joe” hadn’t changed anything on his resume but that one letter. But what Zamora had done, effectively, was whitewash it.
What is the State of Blacks in Philosophy in the US? August 28, 2014
This research note is meant to introduce into philosophical discussion the preliminary results of an empirical study on the state of blacks in philosophy, which is a joint effort of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Black Philosophers (APA CSBP) and the Society of Young Black Philosophers (SYBP). The study is intended to settle factual issues in furtherance of contributing to dialogues surrounding at least two philosophical questions: What, if anything, is the philosophical value of demographic diversity in professional philosophy? And what is philosophy? The empirical goals of the study are (1) to identify and enumerate U.S. blacks in philosophy, (2) to determine the distribution of blacks in philosophy across career stages, (3) to determine correlates to the success of blacks in philosophy at different career stages, and (4) to compare and contrast results internally and externally to explain any career stage gaps and determine any other disparities.
“The pressure to accept and conform to a narrow conception of philosophy was pervasive. [...] While much of the rest of the academy has evolved to reflect these demographic changes, philosophy remains mired in a narrow conception of the discipline that threatens to marginalize philosophy even further. [...] I loved studying philosophy, and truly have no regrets about devoting nearly a decade of my life to it. But I also grew tired and frustrated with the profession’s unwillingness to interrogate itself. Eventually, I gave up hope that the discipline would ever change, or that it would change substantially within a timeframe that was useful to me professionally and personally.”
“It’s not that women and minorities are (inexplicably) less interested in the “problems of philosophy”—it’s that women and minorities have not had their fair say in defining what the problems of philosophy are, or what counts as philosophy in the first place.”
A powerful statement on racism and media representation August 12, 2014
Just a couple of people recently fatally shot for being black August 10, 2014
There’s the man shot in the toy section of Walmart, for holding a toy gun, while saying “it’s not real”. (This in an open carry state.)
And the teenager who was shot for walking in the street, not the sidewalk, who had his hands in the air.
[Many expletives have been deleted.]