On election night, a bright blue map would emanate from my flat screen TV. We’d be elated by news of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. From sea to shining sea, the results would repudiate Trump, his hate-filled campaign, and drive a stake in the heart of the Southern strategy of using race to leverage working class white votes.
We know how that turned out. On Wednesday, I could barely bring myself to work. Heart heavy, I felt as if I’d experienced a death.
Over ninety years ago this month, the Supreme Court upheld a law banning Japanese people from becoming US citizens in Ozawa v. US. The case is especially relevant now, as debates about building walls and securing borders dominate the presidential campaign.
After over twenty years of living in the U.S., Takao Ozawa wanted to become a citizen. He was a family man, well-educated, a churchgoer. There was just one strike against him: he was Japanese.
In October of 1922, when the Supreme Court heard his case, Ozawa v. U.S., our immigration and naturalization laws limited eligibility for citizenship to “free white persons . . . aliens of African nativity, and . . . persons of African descent.” African Americans had only been added fifty-two years earlier in the wake of Reconstruction, when Congress amended the Constitution to make clear that persons born in the U.S. were citizens.
Mr. Ozawa argued, in part, that he was white for purposes of the law, citing legal and ethnographic authorities to support that notion. And, then there was his appearance. As a light-skinned man, Mr. Ozawa suggested his skin color demonstrated that that he was white. But Justice Sutherland, writing for the Court, rejected that notion, saying a test based solely on skin color was “impracticable.” Continue reading ““Free White Persons”: Constructing US Citizenship”
Experts explain that structural reforms are necessary to stop police killings at Cincinnati Law/Cincinnati Project event.
How can the University of Cincinnati prepare for the trial of Ray Tensing? That’s the question audience members are contemplating after today’s panel discussion, “DOJ Reports on Policing in Ferguson and Baltimore: What They Mean for Cincinnati and the Country.”
The Cincinnati Project, UC’s Center for Student Affairs, and Cincinnati Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice collaborated to present five experts to discuss police killings across the nation. Using the Department of Justice’s reports on Ferguson and Baltimore as a springboard, panelists examined such issues as the root causes of police violence against people of color, challenged the existence of a just criminal justice system, and urged a re-examination of the meaning of “public safety” that includes input from affected communities. Continue reading “Beyond Policing: “From Re-entry to No Entry””
Terence Crutcher. Keith Lamont Scott. Korryn Gaines. These are just some of the most recent additions to the growing roll of people killed by police. Communities across the nation struggle for answers, strategies, and, most importantly, an end to the violence. On October 4, 2016, the University of Cincinnati will host this important discussion, building upon lessons learned from Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland.
DOJ found patterns of racial discrimination in stops, detentions, and use of force in both places. In Ferguson, DOJ said the police viewed African Americans “less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.” In Baltimore, DOJ found that the systemic constitutional violations stemmed from structural failures. What do these findings mean for other cities, including Cincinnati?
To be sure, Cincinnati has been cited as an exemplar for reform for troubled cities because of the collaborative agreement between the police and communities. What can Cincinnati’s experience add to our understanding of race, class, and policing, particularly when it comes to addressing endemic inequities?
Author Toni Morrison once wrote, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Her words are a reminder that there is value in each woman’s unwritten story, and we are all empowered to write our own narratives. Morrison’s charge is particularly timely in the present-day conversation about women, work, and family where incomplete soundbites too often substitute for richer discussion about the diversity of women’s experiences and the history they bring to the table. This problem is especially acute when it comes to the discourse around work-family issues. Continue reading “History Lessons: Women of Color and Work-Family Conflicts”
The Pew Research Center found in July that while 63% of women surveyed found gender still posed obstacles for women’s progress, 56% of men said such challenges were mostly history. Then, this week, a headline in The Guardian put a human face on that divide with this: “’I didn’t choose to be straight, white and male’: Are Modern Men the Suffering Sex?”
Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rachel Lyon’s “Race to Execution” comes to Cincinnati Law on September 21.
I no longer ask, “Do these people who committed these crimes deserve the death penalty?” I ask, “Does society deserve to kill people, when they’re so unwilling to engage in an honest conversation about the impact of race?”
Bryan Stevenson’s blunt question is at the heart of the provocative documentary Race to Execution. Cincinnati Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati will screen the film and host a panel discussion including filmmaker Rachel Lyon on September 21, 2016. Continue reading “Capital Punishment and Race: Join the Conversation”
Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell welcomed students and staff alike to the new academic year with a news-breaking short letter. Tucked among paragraphs about strategic planning and enrollment figures, was an announcement about a new task force—one that would recommend whether the storied historically black college for women should admit transgender students.
In Cincinnati, African-American girls are five times more likely to be suspended from school than white boys and nearly nine times more likely to be suspended than other girls. Nationally, black girls are suspended from school more than any other group of girls and at a much higher rate than white, Asian and Latino boys.
This is one of the consequences of “zero-tolerance” policies which use suspension, expulsion and even arrests in response to a range of school-based incidents. While originally enacted to address cases of violent behavior and drug use, the Department of Education recently reported that 95 percent of out-of-school suspensions are now passed out for nonviolent, minor disruptions such as tardiness or disrespect.
Black Lives Matter as a vehicle for addressing racial disparities in school discipline
With a new school year approaching, I found myself thinking about #BlackLivesMatter (BLM).
Not just because of the violent summer of 2016, marked by more Black men dead at the hands of police and snipers targeting white police officers.
Or, because I worry about how my students process these terrible events, particularly against the backdrop of a political campaign season that has unleashed some of the most overtly hateful and vituperative racialized and sexist rhetoric I have ever seen.
BLM has elevated and placed into context the police shootings. It has the potential to do even more. As an “ideological and political intervention,” BLM is about more than just protesting: its focus is on securing material change for African Americans. That’s why, as we go back to school, I see BLM as a promising vehicle for challenging deep seated inequality contributing to Black dis-ease in society: disparities public education.