Advice is being solicited here. Do consider offering ideas.
Some reflections on the Tata Top July 4, 2014
Have you seen the new “Tata Top”? Feeling ambivalent about it? Of course you are! Help is on the way.
Over at Fit Is a Feminist Issue, Tracy offers a useful survey of the pros and cons of the Tata Top. Check her post out here.
Walking while black June 29, 2014
A new video shows Dr. Ersula Ore, a professor at Arizona State University, body slammed by a police officer after being stopped for jaywalking near campus. But it’s Ore who is facing charges for resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, and other crimes.
Full story here.
UPDATE: Last night, I went bed in the UK with one problematic comment on this post, which I had decided to ignore. This blog is and should be a space where we can take for granted the background into which this incident fits, which renders it clearly about race. People can go elsewhere to have lively debates on this topic. I had decided not to respond because I didn’t want to make this a topic of discussion, and not to delete because I– with some trepidation– decided that ignoring was a better policy. That was clearly a mistake. I have now deleted quite a lot of the comments, including those about our moderation policies, which are simply off-topic. Comments are now closed.
Here, however, is some legal commentary by Daniel Manne:
The officer in this instance initially stopped Professor Ore for crossing the street at a non-designated location. Arizona Revised Statutes, Chapter 28, § 793 states pedestrians are permitted to cross the street outside of designated crosswalks so long as they yield to vehicles. When there are adjacent intersections with crosswalks, however, pedestrians must use them. A person who does not use a crosswalk between adjacent intersections is potentially subject to a civil penalty, i.e.: they can be fined. If Professor Ore was crossing in violation of Chapter 28, § 793, i.e., between adjacent intersections, the officer was within his rights to detain her and demand ID. The reason why an officer may demand identification in this instance is so that he may make out a ticket. If Professor Ore was crossing the street in a manner that did not violate any civil statutes, the officer was within his rights to question her and request ID, but Professor Ore was under no obligation to provide it or to cooperate in any way. If Professor Ore tried or asked to leave, i.e., to exit the conversation, the officer should have informed her of her right to do so. If she was not permitted to exercise this right, this would constitute a seizing of her person which is illegal absent probable cause of a criminal act. No criminal act is even alleged to have taken place at this point.
Under Arizona’s SB1070, police officers are required to demand ID from people who they have reason to suspect of being in the country illegally. So far, neither the officer nor the police department has alleged that the officer had reasonable suspicion that Professor Ore was an undocumented alien. In point of fact, she is a United States citizen.
Police are permitted to use reasonable force to subdue suspects, but Professor Ore had not yet committed any crime and is not even accused of have done so. Often police will argue that the suspect was resisting arrest, allowing them to use force. But that argument cannot succeed here because the police had not and could not legally have arrested Professor Ore at this point in the incident. The police could also argue that the officer was defending himself, but this isn’t credible on its face. Professor Ore was verbally confrontational, but she took no aggressive action, did not threaten force, and did not make any movements that could reasonably have been misinterpreted as threatening.
The police officer in question nevertheless tackled Professor Ore, forcing her down to the ground. She reports that her dress flew up, exposing her body, and that the officer touched her exposed body. Professor Ore is charged with aggravated assault of a police officer for the actions she took after she was assaulted – namely, kicking him. In virtue of being tackled, this was a clear instance of self-defense. The actions of the police officer were unlawful, and thus Professor Ore was within her rights to use reasonable force to defend herself.
Legally speaking, this isn’t a tough case. In the US, police officers are given a tremendous amount of latitude in the use of force, based on the premises that their job is dangerous and that they need to be able to defend themselves without having to think through all of the legal details first. Here, though, the officer was not in danger and could not reasonably argue that his use of force was defensive. The charges against Professor Ore are legally without merit and the actions taken by the police officer constitute abuse of power and criminal assault.
Women of Colour Urge Inclusion in “My Brother’s Keeper” June 17, 2014
Read the letter here. (Thanks, K!)
While we applaud the efforts on the part of the White House, private philanthropy, social justice organizations and others to move beyond colorblind approaches to race-specific problems, we are profoundly troubled about the exclusion of women and girls of color from this critical undertaking. The need to acknowledge the crisis facing boys should not come at the expense of addressing the stunted opportunities for girls who live in the same households, suffer in the same schools, and struggle to overcome a common history of limited opportunities caused by various forms of discrimination.
We simply cannot agree that the effects of these conditions on women and girls should pale to the point of invisibility, and are of such little significance that they warrant zero attention in the messaging, research and resourcing of this unprecedented Initiative. When we acknowledge that both our boys and girls struggle against the odds to succeed, and we dream about how, working together, we can develop transformative measures to help them realize their highest aspirations, we cannot rest easy on the notion that the girls must wait until another train comes for them. Not only is there no exceedingly persuasive reason not to include them, the price of such exclusion is too high and will hurt our communities and country for many generations to come.
Register now: Critical Philosophy of Race, London April 17, 2014
There is a truly awesome looking conference happening in London this June on Critical Philosophy of Race. Here’s the description, which shows just how uniquely important this conference is:
Since the publication, in 1992, of Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah’s In my father’s house: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture, the new discipline of the Critical Philosophy of Race has flourished among anglophone analytic philosophers. Yet, Critical Philosophers of Race have tended to confine themselves to an analysis of racial problems that arise in the politics, and against the historical background, of anglophone North America. This parochial focus has given the false impression that the Critical Philosophy of Race is irrelevant outside of the US and Canada. For this reason, in this, the first of three annual international conferences on the Critical Philosophy of Race, we will challenge this false impression, by showcasing work that demonstrates the relevance of the Critical Philosophy of Race (a) to the British Isles. Future conferences will showcase work that demonstrates the relevance of the Critical Philosophy of Race (b) to the European Union and (c) to the wider world outside of anglophone North America. The aim of these three conferences is, successively, to globalise the Critical Philosophy of Race.
Race works differently in different places, and it’s vital to explore not just anglophone North American perspectives on the topic— I’ve been so frustrated teaching this in the UK, and having so little literature on race in my students’ own country. This looks like a fabulous and much needed event.
I’ve been told that there have already been many registrations– but all from OUTSIDE PHILOSOPHY. Sadly, philosophers are so far under-represented amongst attendees. This needs fixing!! Philosophers: Go NOW and register for this first of its kind event!!!!!
Philosophy and Race at Practical Ethics April 13, 2014
Oxford philosophy DPhil student Gulzaar Barn has written an extremely important, thoughtful, and thought-provoking post on philosophy and race over at Practical Ethics.
Please consider joining the discussion!
Whiteness of academia, and celebration of eugenicist April 7, 2014
William Ackah, lecturer in community and voluntary sector studies at Birkbeck, University of London, told the event, which was chaired by UCL provost and president Michael Arthur, that outdated Victorian views on the “wild and untamed” nature of “the Negro” still persisted at some level in UK universities.
“This [idea] that black life is…anti-intellectual still echoes down the corridors of time,” Dr Ackah said on 10 March.
“Society has grown comfortable with black people in sport or music, [but] it has a problem with black people leading in public life and academia, even if…we are more than capable of doing so,” he added.
The situation contrasts with US universities, where the existence of black studies courses had created a space for black academics to gain a foothold in academic life, Dr Ackah explained.
Amid many comments from a mainly black audience of students and academics, UCL itself was also criticised for its uncritical praise of one of its benefactors, the Victorian polymath Francis Galton, known as the “father of eugenics”.
One student raised the issue of UCL’s Galton Lecture Theatre – Galton also endowed a professorial chair in eugenics, now genetics, at UCL – in light of the scientist’s controversial opinions on the “inferior Negro race”, whom he hoped to be supplanted in Africa by the “industrious, order-loving Chinese”.
“Why do we celebrate someone like Francis Galton who hated us [ie, black people]?” the student asked.
It is a shocking statistic that there were just 85 black professors in UK universities in 2011-12. In stark terms, this means that there are more higher education institutions than there are black British, African and Caribbean professors actually teaching in them. The latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency put the number of UK academic staff from a known ethnic minority at 12.8%.
In contrast, black and minority ethnic students are well represented. In some institutions, such as City University, they make up nearly 50% of the student population. Yet even in these universities black academics are a rarity, particularly those in senior positions.
It is hard to think of an arena of UK public life where the people are so poorly represented and served on the basis of their race. Yet this scandalous state of affairs generates little by way of investigation, censure or legal scrutiny under the 2010 Equality Act.
Daily Mail Really Unable to Cope April 5, 2014
with scientists who are women of colour. (I know: you’re shocked.)
UPDATE: There’s now a petition, created by the UCL branch of the UCU.
A piece in the Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle column on Wednesday used their appearance on BBC’s Newsnight on Monday to comment on the possibility of a new era in understanding the origins of the universe to have a dig at the programme’s “Guardian-trained editor, Ian Katz”, who, it said, “is keen on diversity”.
The item added: “So, two women were invited to comment on the report about (white, male) American scientists who’ve detected the origins of the universe – giggling Sky at Night presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Sri Lanka-born astronomer Hiranya Peiris.”
For more, go here.