orgtheory.net

Archive for the ‘fabio’ Category

black lives matter, black power, and civil rights

In this post, I want to delve into a historical issue – how does Black Lives Matter compare with previous Black freedom movements? Aside from intrinsic interest, the question is important because it gives insights into what the future of BLM might be.

First, BLM openly uses a rhetoric and framing that is somewhat different than the classical civil rights organizations. For starters, the movement appears to be secular. This isn’t to say that BLM is completely separate from Black religious life, but it clearly doesn’t present itself in Christian terms. Rarely does one see BLM appeal to the Bible or forge strong ties to traditional Black churches, though obviously some religious people are involved. Instead, BLM uses an oppositional framing derived from the observation that Black citizens are more at risk in society and that there needs to be an affirmation and celebration of Blackness.

Second, BLM employs a lot of language associated with the Black power movement. As I noted last week, the official BLM website favorably quotes Huey Newton, among others. Also, the focus on the Black community is itself a legacy of Black power, which emphasized the need for respect, pride, and institutional autonomy. Thus, I think one might be justified in saying that the current manifestation of BLM is a revival of the ideals of Black Power, though not its organizational form or even its tactics.

Third, organizationally, BLM has adopted a fairly decentralized mode of operations that is more akin to Occupy Wall Street than the Black Panthers. This speaks to both a long term historical process and our own moment. Immediately, the issue is social media. BLM is a movement that literally spun out of social media discussions. One should not be surprised that a movement with these roots should operate in this manner. Historically, I sense a long term drift among progressives from the mass politics model of the classic civil rights movement. It could be the case that radical activists simply don’t want to deal with more mainstream constituencies of the Black community, such as the churches or the Democratic party.

To summarize, BLM is a movement that deals with long standing issues, ones that date to the civil rights era and before. It’s also a movement that employ many traditional protest tactics, like rallies and street protest. But the movement mixes in new elements. BLM presents as a modernized Black Power group instead of a sequel to civil rights groups. It combines Black autonomy and direction with use of social media and D.I.Y. ethos where each branch decides what it wants to be. Sociologists call identity based politics “new social movements,” but BLM might be described as the New Black Politics.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street   

Written by fabiorojas

July 21, 2016 at 12:01 am

article discussion: the suffocation model by finkel et al.

This month’s topic for discussion is an article called “The Suffocation Model: Why Marriage is Becoming an All or Nothing Institution” by Eli J. Finkel, Elaine O. Cheung, Lydia F. Emery, Kathleen L. Carswell, and Grace M. Larson. It’s a short article and is more of a summary of a research program than a self-contained argument.

Basically, it goes something like this. As societies get wealthier, marriages fundamentally change from being institutions for physical survival to institutions for personal fulfillment. Another article by Finkel and collaborators call it “climbing Mount Maslow,” to suggest the contemporary people don’t have the resources to make the current version of marriage work. The main point made by these researchers is that modern people are investing less time at home so it makes it harder for modern marriages to succeed in being satisfying.

I am not a sociologist of the family, so I tread lightly here because I know there is a huge literature that deals with these issues. I won’t evaluate the evidence because this article is a summary of other work and thus doesn’t present much.For example, how do we know that earlier marriages were more “satisfying?” Maybe people just stuck with them because divorce was insanely expensive. I.e., if a women left her marriage, it might be nearly impossible to find employment that would provide a desirable level of income and material comfort. This argument is presented without a systematic discussion of opportunity costs nor do we have a discussion of how certain ideas (e.g., “fulfillment”) are measured over the centuries. Like I said, this could all be answered in the related literature, but it is not presented in this brief article.

So I’ll offer this as a discussion point: Let’s take Finkel at al.’s argument as essentially correct. Maybe modern marriage is a contradiction. It’s about fulfillment, but that is made possible by a wealthier society that draws people away from marriage. But so what? Why is that suffocating or bad? Aren’t institutions allowed to evolve? Another discussion point: can technology help us resolve that tension? For example, could working remotely allow people to have more time in the home? Or allow people to allocate time more efficiently so that are more “at home?”

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street 

Written by fabiorojas

July 20, 2016 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, family, uncategorized

veepstakes

Right now, we are going into the nominating conventions, which means that vice presidential picks make the headlines. Perhaps the most interesting question is whether Clinton II will pick Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. I honestly have no idea if that will happen, but it does help to remember a few things about VP picks.

It is very rare for a VP to help a presidential candidate pick up votes. That is why the mantra is “do no harm.” Aside from that, VP picks tend to come in a few flavors:

  • Runners up: Just go with another candidate who did well in the primary in order to encourage cooperation within the party. Kerry/Edwards and Reagan/Bush I are good examples of this.
  • Ideological balance: Pick people who pull in a part of the party that doesn’t like you. Classic case: Bush I/Quayle. One might argue that McCain/Palin fits this pattern. Perhaps Trump/Pence is another example.
  • Loyalists & personal comfort: Pick a person who is a lot like you or from your personal network. The classic case is Clinton I/Gore. Obama/Biden is probably a case of going with people who make you comfortable.

Then, there are wild cards. Probably the best case is Gore, who chose Joe Lieberman, a guy was supposed to help Gore distance himself from Clinton I. The question is which strategy Clinton II will choose. My guess is that, like Clinton I, she will reward loyalists, which makes it hard, but definitely not impossible, for Warren to come out on top.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street  

Written by fabiorojas

July 19, 2016 at 12:01 am

technology in collective behavior: it’s about relative strength

The attempted coup and subsequent counter-coup in Turkey has raised questions about the role of technology in collective behavior. Notably, the coup leaders attempted to assert control by seizing the media, while the president of Turkey re-asserted control by using Facebook. At his blog, Kieran comments:

The irony was immediately apparent, as all of this was a rather large departure from Erdoğan’s previous attitudes to both social media and public protest. It also set off a little side-debate about the role of these technologies in preventing the coup. That’s encapsulated by Zeynep Tufekci (who is in Antalya at the moment) and her exasperated response to a satirical tweet mocking the idea that tech mattered in any decisive way.

Here’e my take on the issue of technology and collective action. Having access to a technology doesn’t give a movement any advantage by itself. Rather, it’s about relative access to technology. Here’s some selected examples from the recent history of politics:

My argument is that technology can only give a group or movement a short term relative advantage. Otherwise, the strength and vitality of movements and insurrections on “fundamentals” like public opinion, political opportunities, and the support of elites. In the case of Turkey, the coup approached things in a traditional way – by seizing television and radio – and overlooked (?) Facebook, which allowed Erdogan to communicate that he was alive and in control. Ultimately though, I’ll side with commentators who point out that the Turkish military had already been de-funded, purged, and otherwise enervated by Erdogan and his political party. Facetime is a small, and incidental detail, to a larger picture.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street  

Written by fabiorojas

July 18, 2016 at 12:12 am

understanding the next steps for black lives matter

As a scholarly observer of social movements and a person who thinks that African Americans are mistreated by the criminal justice system, I have been very interested in what Black Lives Matter will do in the days and months to follow. The shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling highlight multiple problems – police officers with bad records on the beat, racial violence, and the over policing of society. The consequent shooting at the Dallas rally, which resulted in five more victims, show us that people can exploit a genuine effort to reform society in order to inflict more violence on others.

These horrid events are part of a larger pattern that Black Lives Matters protests yet there is a rare window of opportunity here. Once the media has shifted attention away from the violence, Black Lives Matter has a chance to broaden its coalition and extend its impact. Some like, New York Times writers Michael Barbaro and Yamiche Alcindor, conclude that the Dallas shooting undermined the positive attention the movement received after the Sterling and Castile deaths.

The opposite is true. Black Lives Matter has a chance to emphasize that it is above violence and that justice is truly its major goal. In the social sciences, we call this the “radical flank effect” – a movement may gain prominence when contrasted with a radical or violent manifestation of the movement. At this moment, a lot of people will want a voice that can focus on the basic injustices in the criminal justice system and maintain a distance from the most virulent forms of nationalism.

As a movement firmly rooted in the left, Black Lives Matter has some challenges.It rightfully celebrates Blackness, but that same strength might pose problems if the movement needs a White majority to reform police policy. Another challenge is the focus of the message. Many, such as myself, see Black Lives as a reasonable response to violent police. Yet, that message is bundled with others such as being queer friendly and celebrating the global Black community. I affirm many of these values while noting that external audiences may not. Perhaps a decentralized structure may circumvent this issue. Each local chapter can develop its own indigenous solutions to police relations and thus not have to balance these different needs.

Maybe the most profound decision that Black Lives faces is whether it wants to be full fledged national movement aimed at political reform, like the NAACP in the 1950s or the SCLC in the 1960s, or whether it wants to be more of a community oriented organization like the Black Panthers of the late 1960s. The official Black Lives website quotes Huey Newton, among others, which suggests that the movement aspires to both functions. If that is a correct assessment, then police reform is an anchoring point for a more thorough discussion of Black lives in a larger White society. It may be the case that this is enough to resolve the proximate issue of deaths at the hands of police, but it may be the case that a more thorough effort to build community is not the most appropriate tool for policy change.

I suspect that ten or twenty years from now, observers will see this period as a pivot point for Black Lives. After three years of emergence, Black Lives has become the face of police reform, but one rooted in the Black community and one rooted in cultural politics. The question is whether this is enough to affect the policy problems that generated the movement or whether Black Lives Matter will be an intermediary phenomenon leading to a broader de-policing of sciety.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street 

Written by fabiorojas

July 13, 2016 at 12:01 am

w.e.b. dubois’ illustrations of black social science data

duboisdata03-768x965

The website Hyperallergic has a nice article on the drawings that DuBois’ did visualizing some of his data. For a 1900 exhibition, DuBois made, by hand, these interesting visualizations. Tufte, eat yer heart out!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

July 11, 2016 at 12:01 am

lauren newton w/reeds, 2015

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

July 10, 2016 at 12:01 am

Posted in art, fabio, uncategorized

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,964 other followers