This Wednesday, December 2nd, I will be in conversation with the prolific author Colson Whitehead. It’s going to be a special conversation that is sponsored by CCNY’s Black Studies Program. The talk is free and open to the public, but please RSVP here. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.
I recently had the honor of being featured in Huffington Post’s Science in their exploration of “the science of racism.” While sociology is a social science, I certainly think our theories and accumulated knowledge can help shine light on the contemporary nature of race and racism. Check out my responses in full at this link. Here’s an excerpt.
Is Southern culture perpetuating unequal practices or such thinking? For instance, the accused shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, in Charleston had Confederate license plates on his car, and the Confederate flag is sometimes used as a symbol of post-Civil War white supremacy.
Southern culture in particular and American culture in general often casually perpetuate racism in the present, often by recrafting narratives of the past. The Confederate flag, which flies over South Carolina, was not a long-lived historical symbol — it was the symbol of a rebel force against the United States. The “heritage not hate” trope conveniently skips over the central issues of the Civil War, the position of black people who labored in the antebellum South, as well as the costs that the war had on the nation. Symbols like the Confederate flag are common among hate groups, but also are part of the state’s image. The history of those symbols, along with the large number of schools and statues named for Confederate soldiers and even [Ku Klux] Klan members, create a hostile environment for those who understand the history of race in the nation, and those whose ancestors were painfully forced to labor under those flags during and after the end of slavery, and who had their lives terrorized by groups like the KKK.
Dylann Storm Roof is seen in his booking photo after he was apprehended as the main suspect in the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that killed nine people on June 18, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Were you surprised by Roof’s age of 21? Why do you think a young white man from a young generation could be motivated to commit a racially motivated hate crime?
I was not surprised by Roof’s age. Outspokenness of white supremacists may be on the decline, but white supremacist ideology exists in a range of ages. Hate groups often have events where children are socialized into racial hate. As well, the Internet has democratized access to white supremacist information. If I am a white high-schooler who feels he has been mistreated while racial minorities have been favored, I’m only a couple of clicks away from a myriad of sites and message boards where I’ll find kinship with folks who are in legion of racial hatred or racial nationalism.
Read it all here.
I was recently interviewed by Rose Hackmen for the Guardian on their story about the McKinney Pool incident. In the viral video, we see Corporal Eric Casebolt aggressively engaging Black teenagers, drawing his gun on them and ultimately forcing a Dajerria Becton to lay prone with his knee lodged in her back. The video, while shocking to many, in my estimation, simply captures the everyday inequities that Black folks experiences, even in suburbia.(Be on the look out for a more lengthy commentary soon.) Here’s a quote I offer.
“Whenever you define who are legitimate in suburbs, black residents are excluded. For black families that means the suburbs will not save them. The issues that they have been dealing with in terms of racial profiling will follow them,”
To read the full article click here.
New York Magazine’s recent cover story on Ethical Culture Fieldston School’s program on confronting racism is both interesting and controversial. In the segment below, I join Huffington Post Live to discuss why I think the program is not only provocative but also has significant potential to evolve our conversations on race and racism.
This week I had the pleasure of joining Brian Lehrer on his television show to talk about the uprisings in Baltimore and the path forward. The other panel guest, James Meyerson, is a Civil Rights attorney who has called for a new Kerner Commission. Check out the segment, it’s about 10 minutes long, as well as the rest of the show.
FYI- I have been writing a couple of things on Baltimore but hadn’t decided where to share them. I’m hoping to share them with y’all very soon.
Tomorrow, Tuesday April 28th, I am honored to join a cadre of talented thinkers and activists at the second annual Congressman Parren Mitchell Symposium, “Intellectual Activism, Social Justice, and Criminalization” at the University of Maryland-College Park. The day will be full of conversation with folks who are advancing social justice on the ground, in academia and in legislative halls. The symposium is free and open to the public, please RSVP here. Come out and spread the word!
Next Friday, May 1st, I will be presenting on research that I have been conducting with Brittany N. Fox (Columbia University) on demographic changes in Upper Manhattan (bka Uptown). The gathering, and part of our research, is the product of a collaboration between the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute and Hunter’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies. There will be a host of scholars and community members present to discuss what is happening in New York City around lines of race, ethnicity, class and change. The conference is free and open to the public, but you should register at this eventbrite link.
I am thrilled and humbled that I was selected as the Amsterdam News Black New Yorker in their latest edition. The article, written by Demetria Irwin, provides a nice look inside my life, not just what I do in the classroom or as a scholar. Check it out and remember to support Black news media, heck media of color or any media with a truly critical voice!!
Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy merges academics and activism
Demetria Irwin | 4/16/2015, 9:39 a.m.
Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy’s daughter was born with activist blood in her veins. The precious baby girl was born to Lewis-McCoy and his wife the day a grand jury voted not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
“My wife and I are very active when it comes to getting out into the community. But when she was six months pregnant and it was 90 degrees outside, we couldn’t do our usual passing out flyers at a parade. Now with a baby with us, we are still active, but we figure out different ways to contribute as a family,” said Lewis-McCoy.
The Connecticut native utilizes numerous avenues to fight for causes he believes in. One avenue is the classroom. Lewis-McCoy is an associate professor of sociology and Black studies at the City College of New York-CUNY.
Read more here.
The recent conviction of 11 Atlanta Public School employees has stirred conversations about corruption, cheating and education’s future. In this opinion-editorial piece for Ebony.com I weigh in on why I think the wrong people have ended up in handcuffs.
As news that 11 educators from Atlanta Public Schools were convicted of racketeering charges made national headlines last week, cheers of “justice served” quickly rang out.
That is far from the truth of the matter.
Let me be clear, 11 employees of APS were found guilty of the terrible act of cheating, but they are not the ones who should be behind bars. Who should be there? The people who have stolen our children’s education since the early 2000s with a brand of high-stakes testing that breeds competition rather than collaboration and offers achievement gap mania rather than offering assistance to schools and students with the greatest needs. These thieves of public education are the bigger problem than 11 educators in Atlanta.
I’m going to try to make this very brief for a few reasons: 1) Baby love is sleeping 2) I’m fighting a cold and 3) I tend to run on at the mouth. As you may know, one of my favorite holidays is Kwanzaa and each year I try to each day for a deeper reflection on the principle of the day. Habari Gani? Umoja
I’ve been thinking about the costs and the processes of getting to unity of late. In a political moment when our nation continues to grapple with police brutality as well as the fall of Bill Cosby from grace– I wonder how we become unified and maintain unity. The simplest form of unity I often observe comes from folks who take a singular social identity and coalesce around its significance for power. For example, someone who is staunchly Black nationalist or Communist will see the aforementioned issues and stress the role of White media in besmirching a Black patriarch or the continued imposition of the state’s power (the enforcer of capitalism) over oppressed (minority) peoples. Either way, the emphasis as on a singularity of issue makes for neat solutions and resolutions around what is being faced and possible responses. As the Last Poets said, “I can’t dig them actions.”
The more seriously I consider the things that are affecting our communities, the more an intersectional framework matters to how I think about its roots and possible responses. Many moons ago, Jelani Cobb wrote (and I paraphrase) that Black folks are no more or no less unified or dysfunctional than any other group of folks on this earth. I believed it when it he wrote it and believe it now. The catch is we can, like all people, become seduced by reductionist thinking. Whether its at a mass march where we start chanting and yelling, “hands up! don’t shoot!” in the face of an unrepentant police force or double clicking a meme on Instagram that suggesting our brothers and sisters are being distracted by the hot topic rather than thinking through politics–quick responses are valued, but they’re not what’s needed. Instead, I see folks like Imani Perry, Tamara Nopper, and Eddie Glaude raise questions (they’re on social media twitter – you should follow them) that make you think about what you intend to accomplish? What are the means? What are likely to the ends? Their questions make people uncomfortable and rightfully so. Too much emphasis on unity of action without complexity of thought is why moments that could be movements often just remain flashpoints (well that and COINTELPRO ain’t too shabby at killing stuff).
For more than 4 months there has been an emerging national dialogue about police violence–one that people have been working on having for years, but this moment was the time that it ripened and expanded. In this moment we have to do things that keep people engaged, but even more so, we’ve got to ask–Why are you here? If you believe Black lives matter, who does not? Which Black lives matter? Does the trans sister in Chicago who is sexually assaulted by a member of her family get covered? Does the conservative brother who stands with NYPD receive your cover? If the government fails to respond to what we demand, what will we do? Are we really demanding the same thing? Are you talking reform or revolution? Which type of revolution are you talking? These may seem to show where we disagree but only by grappling with them will we have a unity worth fighting for, claiming and living with.