Meredith Osborne, Editor-in-Chief
Our children’s schools are nearly, if not completely, as segregated as they were in the 1960s. It’s no surprise, then, that for children of color grade school can be an introduction to the carceral state. Just take a peek into the local youth offender detention center in any major U.S. city and you’ll see that the school-to-prison pipeline is a readily observable phenomenon. We can change this.
In “Arrested at the Schoolhouse Gate,” Noelia Rivera-Calderón explains that to end the incarceration of minority children it is essential to end school “disturbance” laws, which have allowed teachers to bring police into the classroom and hale “disruptive” children off to jail. The consequences for our youth, including the generational inequities stemming from such oppression, are striking.
But uniformed school discipline is just the beginning. As Meikhel Philogene details in “Why the Black Man is Really Gray,” there are other contributing forms of oppression that have fed the crisis of mass incarceration in this country. He focuses on the racism inherent in central aspects of the criminal justice system: access to justice, predatory capitalism, and systemic bias. Philogene also spells out how an underrepresentation of minorities in positions of power within the sports and entertainment industries has perpetuated a system of inequality and racism.
In recent years, these myriad forms of oppression have spawned new, popular resistance and solidarity movements nationwide. Within these groups, movements aligning along racial and ethnic lines are aiming for social, racial, and environmental justice. In “Identity Extremism,” Natsu Taylor Saito explains that our government has been paying close attention to these movements. Indeed, the State has conflated popular struggle for freedom with malicious radicalism and danger. Unsurprisingly, it has responded with surveillance, criminalization, and violence. Saito goes on to argue that the State has wielded its coercive power to pressure activists into forsaking their racial and ethnic identities in exchange for a tokenish sort of equality. Saito, in prose that ascends to eloquence, demonstrates, that the path toward genuine liberation requires an insistence on self-determination and, however arduous, we should never give up the fight.
Our issue closes with David Gespass’s review of two essential, recently released books on the controversy, reignited in the age of Trump, regarding freedom of expression on college campuses: Free Speech on Campus by Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman and Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship, by Nadine Strossen.