Morning Announcements:

If I were a teacher in this school, or any Negro school, and I was dealing with Negro children, who were in my care only a few hours of every day and would then return to their homes and to the streets…I would try to teach them—I would try to make them know—that those streets, those houses, those dangers, those agonies by which they are surrounded, are criminal….I would teach him that the press he reads is not as free as it says it is…I would try to make him know that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible, but principally larger—and that it belongs to him. I would teach him that he doesn’t have to be bound by the expediences of any given Administration, any given policy, any given time—that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything….I would suggest to him that he is living, at the moment, in an enormous province. America is not the world and if America is going to become a nation, she must find a way—and this child must help her find a way—to use the tremendous potential and tremendous energy which the child represents.

From “A Talk to Teachers” by James Baldwin. Delivered October 16th, 1963. I’m having trouble locating the name of the school. Available online here.

It’s Monday morning. Love to all of you teachers who got in early for class prep.

Sanctuary Cities are Safer Cities

Friday the Times Dispatch reported news that, even my own pessimism didn’t have the foresight to anticipate: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to visit Richmond on Wednesday to speak with federal, state and local law enforcement officials about “efforts to combat violent crime and restore public safety,” the Department of Justice announced Friday …

Ethnographies of European Policing

Angela Davis spoke at VCU last week, and in conjunction with her visit I read her new book Freedom is a Constant Struggle. In it, as in her talk, she explores american incarceration as an exportable product. I tend to be very hesitant to conflate American carceral culture to security cultures globally, simply because the extent of our prison system is so expansive, and our numbers so shocking. That said, Davis has for some time now made a compelling case that global capitalism brings with it a global security market defined by its American origins. While Europe’s approach to incarceration does not (and probably can never) rival ours, it is inevitably pulled in our direction by our shared technologies and corporate creators.

For several months we’ve been convening at a local jail to talk about the policies, technologies, and structural inequalities that define American incarceration. This launched a film series, and we’ve been lucky to screen essential films for understanding how incarceration functions, both as systems of policy and of economics. Today we broke out of that and started considering what carceral cultures look like beyond our own boarders. For week one of this we’re looking at two companion texts, a book and a film, that are two of my favorite explorations of urban policing in Europe in the last ten years: Dider Fassin’s Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing and Attack the Block. 

Attack the Block was a lucky film with which to start. It’s beautifully constructed: a group of kids race to save their counsel house from alien invasion while police race to enforce what they perceive to be social order. About half the men currently attending the film series were also my students in an Afrofuturism seminar last summer. Cycling back around to science fiction pulled things together in a way that is hard to do in a traditional academic semester. It’s also a great movie, and a much easier watch inside a facility than 13th, our last screening. Tomorrow I’ll go see Get Out, and I’m reaching out to the distributors for that film* to see if we can’t get lucky and score screeners for viewing inside. If we can get Get Out, our next film series theme may be race and gender in horror.  Here’s hoping.

*I’m also trying for I am Not Your Negro, which could possibly lead up to a short Baldwin seminar, which would be amazing.

The federal government has announced they’re no longer supporting 2016 guidance to schools on the rights of transgender students. Below is a summary from Trans Equality of what this means. A screenreader accessible summary is available online at the Trans Equality website. The Washington Post has a fairly substantial summary of this …

Schools, Communities, and Sustainable Partnerships

I was fortunate last night to have a free evening that coincided with a meeting of the RPS school board during their final hearing on a much-contested budget. Torn between the needs of city hall and public schools, our board had considered offering the mayor a budget that was much …

Reading for Better Futures

Some time back my colleague Courtnie Wolfgang shared with me an incredible drive of materials on incarceration and detention of juveniles. This unexpected generosity left me thinking about the value of shared libraries and advancement of knowledge. I’ve heard a number of particularly heated arguments lately among scholars employed at …