InDepth-longread: Knowledge and Compassion: Reflections on Institutional Racism in the U.S.A.

Yoko Arisaka

“Either we learn a new language of empathy and compassion, or the fire this time will consume us all”.
Cornel West
Race Matters, 1993.

In the wake of the pandemonium spreading across America after the May 27th murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the whole nation appears to have reached the point of irrevocable split. Is it finally the end of pretense of a great nation and a possible new beginning, or is it the ultimate downfall of a racist oligarchy, a “failed social experiment,” as Cornel West recently broadcasted?[1] The anger against the long-standing brutality and racism of the police, against white supremacy, against the entrenched history of racism everywhere, and against Trump erupted everywhere. But such protests were suppressed by force; they were anti-American. One thing is clear: the emotional explosions are immediate and intense; they have shattered the nation as well as families and friends. Violence and destruction have escalated everywhere. Social media are inundated with reports and commentaries that are meant to flame up the already unbearable situation. The whole nation is breaking down (again).

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InDebate: Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Dialog?

newphoto Michael Thomas

Michael L. Thomas

Back in August, many Americans distracted themselves with an extended conversation about whether San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kapernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem before NFL games was an „appropriate“ form of protest against police brutality or, somehow, disrespectful to members of the US military. This discussion diverted attention from the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, which gave rise to the protest, while simultaneously ducking away from actual dialog about patterns of racism in America. As we now know, Americans’ inability to directly confront issues of race in this context was an ominous portent of things to come. The election of Donald Trump and subsequent explosion of racial violence have brought racism bubbling up to the surface of everyday life, thus beginning a the new low point in the cyclical narrative of racial inequality in the US.  Weiterlesen

InDebate: Post-Racial Discourse and American Genocide

Skitolsky Foto

Lissa Skitolsky

Over the past three years the media in the United States has drawn attention to the epidemic of racist murders perpetrated by police officers against unarmed young black men and women (the five murders that received the most attention were those of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray). These events provoked new protests against police brutality and our racist system of mass incarceration at the same time that the media and our politicians portrayed each murder as an “exception” to the norm of a just Justice system that was no longer informed by structural discrimination against African Americans. As President Obama has reminded the nation after every publicized police murder of a young black man, we “have come a long way” since the Civil Rights era of legal segregation and Jim Crow. Since Obama’s election as the first black president of the United States, the media has referred to the American present as a ‘post-racial’ society and scholars have started to explore how this ‘post-racial discourse’ has informed (mis)representations of state violence and precluded opportunities for political activism in the United States. Weiterlesen