Tag Archives: racial justice

Crises of Capital, Populist Politics

The social movements field of scholarship no longer holds strain and breakdown theories in high regard when attempting to understand and explain mobilization emergence. However, as micromobilization theorist Aldon Morris explained in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, collective action and social movement consciousness must be located within the systems of domination that oppress actors in a myriad of ways. It might be possible then to think of crises of capitalism and heightened periods of economic exploitation as an underlying factor that inflames simmering racial tensions and popular protests over scarce resources. Continue reading

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Organizations for Racial Justice

By Jenny Irons

I recently moved back to the South after a 17-year absence. Someone asked me why I would return to this place, to come back after being away for so long. The mess, I said. It’s motivating. I meant the mess of extreme inequality—of race, of gender, of sexuality, of class, of nationality.  It’s hard to be purely academic about such matters when you’re not ensconced in an ivory tower atop a lovely rolling hill in the Northeast. Yes, racism exists everywhere; as last month’s posts tell us, it thrives in “free spaces” and sneakily deploys itself all over the country. But the racial inequality in the South is particularly stark and visible, and it has very deep roots. Continue reading

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Right-Wing Extremism, Racist Movements, and Fights for Racial Justice

While many Americans might feel as if the 1960s KKK-style of white supremacy is a thing of the past, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that more than 1000 extremist hate groups still exist today, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalist, racist skinhead, and border vigilante groups. But how is racist activism sustained during a time when expressions of overt racism have become much less common? Are these simply marginalized factions of disgruntled bigots, or something more?  And, what does the future hold for racist and other far-right movements?  Race also mobilizes activism on the other end of the political spectrum, as racial minorities and white allies attempt to build on the legacy of the civil rights movement. But in light of the relatively weak and short-lived protests following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for his role in killing Trayvon Martin, many analysts have raised questions about the vitality of the movement for racial justice in the U.S. Why have contemporary national movements around racial justice been so difficult to sustain? Where does the majority of racial justice activism occur today, and in what forms? And, are there any changes on the horizon?  We have lined up a fantastic group of scholars and activists to reflect on these issues and will feature their essays throughout October and November. As always, we are grateful for the participation of our distinguished contributors:

damali ayo, Author and Speaker (essay)
Heidi Beirich and Evelyn Schlatter, Southern Poverty Law Center (essay)
Kathleen Blee, University of Pittsburgh (essay)
John Brueggemann, Skidmore College (essay)
Betty A Dobratz, Iowa State University and Lisa K. Waldner, University
of St. Thomas (essay)
Kim Ebert, North Carolina State University (essay)
Abby L. Ferber, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (essay)
Robert Futrell, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (essay)
Peter B. Owens, University of California, Irvine (essay)
Todd J. Schroer, University of Southern Indiana (essay)

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Action, Inaction, and “Color-blindness”

By Kim Ebert

The killing of Trayvon Martin and subsequent trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman offers valuable insight into the operations of color-blind racial ideology and the way color-blindness sustains white privilege even in the absence of any formal, organized movements openly dedicated to maintaining whites’ status as the dominant group. Indeed, while the events surrounding the Martin shooting sparked outrage and mobilized protests among the African-American community, it is telling that they did not inspire any sort of meaningful collective action among those (primarily non-blacks) who were sympathetic to Zimmerman’s cause. This is not to say the events were greeted entirely with indifference among Zimmerman’s supporters, but they mostly did not see the shooting and trial as occasions around which to organize and rally. Instead, many viewed the entire episode as a legal process centering on fundamental individual rights—in this case, the right to defend oneself and the right to bear arms—rather than issues of race. Continue reading

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Change is Not for the Faint of Heart

By damali ayo

“Change is not for the faint of heart.” Someone told me this once, and it stuck with me. I was sitting in a room full of women trying to recover from dieting, binging, starving and a plethora of other food addiction behaviors. I had raised my hand earlier in that hour and said, “I am a compulsive dieter.”

It was just one of the many groups of similar people, or one on one with a therapist, on the phone with a friend on a similar journey, or being coached by a mentor who has walked one of the paths I have found myself on in my lifetime. These are humbling journeys that evolve me from being unwell, to understanding what is wrong and why, to learning how to heal, to the reward of a daily maintenance of real lasting change. Continue reading

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The Challenge of Collective Action in Racialized Market Culture

By John Brueggemann

I will never forget April 29, 1992. In Atlanta, “the city too busy to hate,” we eagerly awaited the verdict for the police officers who beat Rodney King. When the decisions were announced, everyone I knew was aware that vastly different reactions were unfolding among blacks and whites.

That same week Freaknik was held, which was a large annual gathering of students from historically black colleges. Thousands of kids came to Atlanta to party. They were known for riding around on top of cars and disrupting traffic downtown, which of course drove the city’s leadership crazy. Out of curiosity I took a walk in Piedmont Park one afternoon to check it out. The whole thing seemed pretty familiar (a bunch of drunk college students having fun and trying to hook up) and notably less dramatic than the media coverage had suggested. As I walked back to my car, several young black men drove by. One yelled: “hey man, what you think about that verdict?” The car slowed as I kept walking. I said: “It was fucked up.” “You don’t sound like you mean it,” he said, with a note of menace. I got focused as I took the last few steps to my car, got in, and left.  Continue reading

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