What’s Next: Activism and Social Justice in the Aftermath of the Trump Presidency

BY Doug McAdam

 

Suggested further reading:

Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos.  2014.  Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America.  Oxford University Press.

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by | January 20, 2021 · 9:00 AM

Armed Intimidation, Police Violence, and the Gun Violence Prevention Movement

BY Mary Bernstein

The chaos of the past four years culminated in an insurrection inspired by outgoing President Donald Trump in an attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. The Capitol police, compared to the show of force they presented to peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors just months earlier, made comparably little effort to block the mostly white insurrectionists.[1] As the invaders entered the Capitol, congressional representatives and senators were forced to don gas masks, barricade the doors of their chambers, and flee to a secret location as Trump supporters banged on the doors of terrified Congressional members and staffers[2] and some called for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence.[3] As a result of the attempted coup, six people died,[4] including one officer who died by suicide just days later.[5] The coup attempt came as no surprise to those in the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement who have long worked to end both armed intimidation and racism in policing.

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What’s Next: Activism and Social Justice in the Aftermath of the Trump Presidency

BY  David S. Meyer

Joe Biden’s inauguration, in conjunction with the Democratic Party’s very narrow majority in the Senate, dramatically changes the prospects for advocates and activists for all sorts of causes. Students of social movements should be able to make a few guesses at how, and what’s coming. The events of the pre-post-Trump era suggest, emphatically, that President Biden, despite his avowed intent to promote national healing and unity, will face vigorous and volatile social movements from both the left and right.

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The Crucial Role of Social Movement Scholars over the Next Four Years

BY Joshua Bloom

Scholars of social movements have a crucial role to play over the next four years. In some ways we are just like everyone else. We each have stories from the last four years about what we would like to leave behind. The day after Trump’s inauguration, a swastika was etched onto my office building at the University of Pittsburgh. And I remember Antwon Rose’s mother’s pain, so tangible at his funeral, that she ‘had not been able to protect him from the police.’ A few months later came the largest anti-Semitic massacre in U.S. history at the Tree of Life Synagogue where many friends worship three blocks from my house. Following police orders during the massacre, while it was unclear whether other shooters were at large, I pulled down the window shades, and held my Jewish/mixed-race kids close – as far away as we could from the windows and doors. Three days later, when Trump had the audacity to use our grief to advance the politics of hate, making a mid-term election campaign stop at the temple, I sat down in front of his motorcade.

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Deconstructing ‘Race’ and ‘Whiteness’ in Critical Animal Studies

BY Moses Seenarine

As I write this article at the end of August, 2020, socially defined “minority” communities across the country are protesting yet another police shooting of an African American, that of 29-year old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Earlier in the year, there were weeks of activism over the strangulation of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American female emergency medical technician in Louisville, Kentucky; the killing of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old African American man, in Atlanta, Georgia; the strangulation of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old African American massage therapist in Aurora, Colorado; and the death of other many others at the hands the police.

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Critical Animal Studies has a race problem

BY M. Shadee Malaklou

This is an excerpt from a forthcoming article in the Journal of Critical Animal Studies.

Despite an avowed commitment to reject human ways of being and doing and knowing in favor of Other life-sustaining hermeneutics, even the most exciting scholarship to emerge from Critical Animal Studies (CAS) does not address animality as a humanist construct that is also or especially a race/ist and un/gendering cut. As Zakiyyah Iman Jackson argues of CAS and of similar moves to think the nonhuman,

Given that appositional and homologous (even co-constitutive) challenges pertaining to animality…have long been established in thought examining the existential predicament of modern racial blackness[,] the resounding silence…with respect to race is remarkable, persisting even despite the reach of antiblackness into the nonhuman—as blackness conditions and constitutes [every] nonhuman disruption and/or displacement they invite. …According to Man’s needlessly racially delimited terms, the matter of racial being purportedly does the work of arbitrating epistemological questions about the meaning and significance of the (non)human in its diverse forms, including animals, machines, plants, and objects …Whether machine, plant, animal, or object, the nonhuman’s figuration and mattering is shaped by the gendered racialization of the field of metaphysics. …Thus, terrestrial movement toward the nonhuman is simultaneously movement towards blackness, whether blackness is embraced or not, as blackness constitutes the very matter at hand (216, original emphasis).

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Decentering Whiteness: At the Root of Nonhuman & Human Animal Liberation

BY Julia Feliz

In 2019, I released “Veganism of Color: Decentering Whiteness in Human and Nonhuman Liberation” as a conversation specifically meant between Vegans of Color and other People of Color. It was always meant to be a resource for us, by us in an effort to undo the damage that the mainstream vegan movement continues to do to Nonhuman Animal Rights/Liberation in a time when the movement still does not seem to acknowledge that centering nonhumans means to address the oppressive hierarchies also tied to otherized humans. Plainly stated, nonhuman animals have been a tool of whiteness, and whiteness is something that remains invisible to most white and other non-Black vegans and non-vegans.

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It’s the Pits: The American Pit Bull Terrier, Race, and Society

BY Julie LaBagnara

“The film Fruitvale Station…depicts the death of an unarmed African American man, Oscar Grant, at the hands of police, and in it there is a scene in which Grant pulls a pit bull-type dog from the street where it has been fatally injured by a car and holds it as it dies. Michael B. Jordan, who plays Oscar Grant, states: ‘Black males, we are America’s pit bull. We’re labeled vicious, inhumane, and left to die in the street’” (Weaver 2015, p. 345).

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Decentering Whiteness in the Study of Animal Advocacy

This essay dialogue might be different from what readers expect on Mobilizing Ideas. To support coalition-building and the ongoing global movement for Black Lives, MI is opening up the conversation beyond social movement scholars and beyond Sociology. Like other academic and non-academic organizations, the Animals & Society section of the American Sociological Association is using self-reflection to address that Black and Brown scholars are under-represented in our membership and in our field generally. This lack of BIPOC voices influences the research that our section supports, including research on animal advocacy as a social movement. That isn’t unique to our section, unfortunately.

There are three main intentions. The first is to provide critical feedback on the ways that anti-Black racism function covertly in animal advocacy itself and academic discourse about animal advocacy (as well as other social movements). Second, we want to build connections across disciplinary and organizational boundaries through critical coalition-building that is exemplified in these essays. Moses Seenarine and M. Shadee Malaklou explain the stakes for the quality of our research when we do not decenter whiteness in the social sciences and critical animal studies. Julie LaBagnara discusses how social movement processes that negated BIPOC perspectives compromised public understanding of animal advocates and their grievances. Julia Feliz, whose work inspired the title of this dialogue, “Decentering Whiteness in the Study of Animal Advocacy,” describes how BIPOC people are reclaiming veganism and empowering communities from within through the Vegans of Color project. Comprehensively, the authors here speak to how amplifying and centering BIPOC voices fosters multi-issued, coalition-building.

We hope you will use the comments sections here on the essays to contribute to this important conversation. Many thanks to the Vegan Awesome Foundation for their support of this project and to Mobilizing Ideas for welcoming this collaboration.

This month, we have four outstanding contributors. Many thanks for their contributions on this topic:

 

Contributing Editor,

Erin M. Evans

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Will the Media Play Victor Frankenstein on Election Night?

BY Jennifer Earl and Jessica Maves Braithwaite

Any journalist will tell you: report the story, but don’t be a part of it. But, without a concerted effort to avoid “business as usual” on November 3rd, American journalism will be one of the most consequential characters in the story of the 2020 Election. In this election, the horserace has been weaponized.

Elections equal horse races to the media. Even if “decision desks”—the set of people who help “call” elections—have proclaimed their patience, their news desks and opinion desks, and the companies that own them, may not be so patient. For business, the more drama, the more viewers, readers, and/or likes, the better. But, the 2020 election is highly unlikely to be decided on Election Night itself.

When drama-hungry media howl for a winner on Election Night and/or dramatically cover a horserace, instead of a democracy, in the days, or weeks, after November 3rd, it will create a needless sense of urgency that those willing to subvert democratic institutions are counting on. For instance, an important justification for Supreme Court intervention in the election could come from pretending that the American people can’t wait for our votes to be counted, even while so many people (disproportionately people of color) are willing to wait for hours to vote in hopes they will be counted. A key way to legitimize state governments casting aside ballots and deciding on their own electors is to cite the media’s rush as an indicator that voters lack patience.

To be sure, we are not claiming that situation we are in is the result of the media. We are in an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine that was set in motion years ago, and everyone looks on amazed and surprised while the pieces continue to fall as researchers anticipated. But, the media’s part in this Goldberg machine is critical for the machine reaching its conclusion in a failed democracy. All that has to happen for the media to play Victor Frankenstein to our democracy on election night is for journalists and reporters to ignore the warning signs and continue with a horserace as usual, ignoring its weaponization.

What can the media do to avoid this and how can social movements help? The media-related steps are easy to identify but require significant discipline.

Step 1: The media must practice patience. Media broadly—decision desks, news desks, and opinion desks—need to commit now to practices that will facilitate patience on election night and afterwards. The decision desk’s patience must not be undermined: having one part of your organization committed to patience and the rest fanning the flames of impatience is making your media organization very much part of the story. Committing to patience isn’t going to get easier as we get closer to Election Day. The likelihood that media that don’t commit to organization-wide patience before Election Day will embrace patience afterwards is vanishingly small.

Step 2. Media should follow evidence-based guides on reporting like these from the Election Coverage and Democracy Network. Practices like “distinguish[ing] between legitimate, evidence-based challenges to vote counts and illegitimate ones that are intended to delay or call into question accepted procedures” and “don’t use social media to fill gaps in institutionally credible and reliable election information” are critical to maintaining patience and to starving the fire that may well burn on Election night, threatening to engulf our democracy.

Step 3. The media can use their reporting to help communities “Hold the Line” on defending democracy. Social movements are already trying to address key concerns about the Election. For instance, organizers are already working to preserve our democracy by protecting three basic principles: all votes must be counted; allegations of voter suppression and election irregularities must be impartially investigated and redressed; and the final result must be peacefully respected. Not only do we need media to refuse to spread chaos, we need prior reporting that helps their audience understand local voting practices and protections and evaluate how well their community is doing at ensuring that all voters are able to freely vote and have their votes counted.

Is the media up to the test? On the one hand, the willingness of journalists to be assaulted to tell the story of protests this summer says yes. But, on the other hand, media have been unwittingly weaponized before, delivering Trump $2 billion dollars in free media coverage, 2.5 times more than Clinton in 2016. Social movement organizers around the country are working right now to encourage the media, and other key actors, to ensure the integrity of the American election. In the days that follow it, it is possible that non-violent collective action will be necessary to have Election results fairly counted and/or honored. Movements need to remember during the weeks surrounding the Election that they may achieve their short-term election goals by encouraging the media to follow the steps above.

We will find out over the next 2-3 weeks whether journalists are going to be the story, pretending that normal practices in abnormal times are neutral. We hope the media will indeed rise to serve as the Fourth Estate.

 

Note: The opinions represented in this piece are our own views and do not represent the views or positions of our institutions or organizations.

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