The next president will face a range of challenges related to race and inequality, from poverty and tensions with police to the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights, incarceration and gender equity.
In the sixth installment of a Q&A series on important issues the next president will need to address, Princeton University professors Imani Perry and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor examine challenges related to race.
Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies and is affiliated with the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is the author of “More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States” (New York University Press, 2011). She publishes widely on law, cultural studies and African American studies.
Taylor is an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies whose research examines race and public policy including American housing policies. Her book “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” (Haymarket Books, 2016) — an examination of the history and politics of black America and the development of the social movement Black Lives Matter in response to police violence in the United States — received the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book.
Q. Within your area of expertise, what issues will the next president face in the first 100 days?
Perry: The next Supreme Court confirmation (or perhaps new appointment) is an urgent matter, one that has the potential to define the scope of rights and liberty for the next several generations.
Taylor: Perhaps the most important issue facing the incoming administration will be the continuing crisis of police violence and abuse in black and brown communities. It has been almost two years since the eruption of the Black Lives Matter movement and there appears to be no end of protests in sight. The Obama White House has welcomed discussion with some Black Lives Matter activists and even those roundtable discussions have not resulted in substantive police reform; it will be interesting to see if the new administration has the same open door policy. We can expect that a Trump administration would be quite hostile to the movement, while Clinton may look to continue the approach of Obama. More generally, there is deep and palpable racial tension throughout the country, whether it is anti-black racism, Islamophobia or anti-immigrant sentiment. In some cases, it has resulted in violence and so this will be a key area to watch.
Q. Within your area of expertise, what issues will the next president face over the course of his or her term?
Perry: The next president will have to face growing economic precarity for a large portion of the American public. In fact, many other pressing issues — immigration, race, policing and incarceration, and gender equity — are shaped in some significant measure by the fact that substantial swaths of our population live in actual or near poverty conditions and face downward mobility and persistent under-employment. Not only does it mean that the American Dream has grown even more elusive, it drives competition, racial animus and resentment, underground economies and deep anxieties about masculinity and traditional manhood ideals.
Taylor: I think the issues that have given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement will continue to be of extreme importance. This is not only about police violence and abuse but also the conditions of poverty and inequality that pervade many of the working class and poor neighborhoods of black and brown people across the country. Clinton has pledged to spend $125 billion to rebuild these communities and so, if we are looking at an incoming Clinton administration, it will be interesting to see how quickly she moves on this campaign promise. Clinton also gave a speech in Harlem in February pledging to work to end “systemic racism” in the U.S. What programs and allocations will be necessary to undertake such a task? If Clinton wins, this may have to be a focus of her administration.
Q. How have you examined these issues in your research?
Perry: My book, “More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States,” is a multidisciplinary investigation into research on contemporary forms of racial inequality. It looks at varying forms of bias and discrimination that coexist with a stated belief in racial egalitarianism, as experienced by Asian Americans, Latinos and African Americans. Given how centrally racial issues are figuring in this election — both as an explicit topic and as an indicator of voting patterns and degrees of interest — my work speaks directly to the moment. As well, I’m a scholar of Constitutional law, with a J.D. and a Ph.D. in American civilization from Harvard University, and I write and teach in the field of race and the law, again with a broad approach that includes analyses of race as it relates to immigration, employment, voting and other constitutional rights, and criminal law.
Taylor: I have written extensively on black politics and social movements, including my most recent book, “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.” I am currently writing a book on the federal government’s promotion of single-family homeownership in the 1970s and the public-private partnerships developed in doing so. My work looks critically at the influence of private enterprise on the shaping of public policy especially as it pertains to housing. So I look at the issues of public policy in their historical context as well as in contemporary situations.
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation Receives Lannan Cultural Freedom Especially Notable Book Award
Princeton University Professor of African American Studies Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Authored the Groundbreaking Black Lives Matter Study
SANTE FE, NEW MEXICO – The Board of Directors of Lannan Foundation announces the winner of this year’s Cultural Freedom Especially Notable Book Award: From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, written by Princeton University professor and activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and published by Haymarket Books.
Established in 2014, the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for An Especially Notable Book honors nonfiction works of particular relevance to the current historical moment. The award recognizes writers whose work is of notable scholarly or journalistic quality, and also has purpose in providing ideological tools to inform and support struggles for cultural freedom and social, economic, and racial justice.
With a $50,000 prize in 2016, the award is one of the largest of its kind in the United States and internationally.
Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy at Union Theological Seminary, writes that “Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has emerged as the most sophisticated and courageous radical intellectual of her generation” and that her “brilliant” book “is the best analysis we have of the #BlackLivesMatter moment of the long struggle for freedom in America.”
“Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor offers us necessary reading in difficult times. Her book provides historical context and analytical rigor for understanding the movement for Black lives, one of the most dynamic political forces of the day,” said Patrick Lannan, president of Lannan Foundation.
In From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistent structural inequality, including mass incarceration, housing discrimination, police violence, and unemployment. She argues that the emerging struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader movement for Black liberation.
First published in February 2016, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation is now in its fourth printing and has been highlighted as a must-read by The Guardian, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Review of Books, Le Monde Diplomatique, and The Root, among others. The book has been assigned in college classes nationwide, including at Brown University, Dartmouth College, Georgetown University, New York University, University of Southern California, and Yale University.
“I’m deeply appreciative and grateful to Lannan Foundation for this award,” said Taylor. “It shows that there is a receptive audience for honest and forceful writing about racism and injustice. The movement has opened up that space and this recognition for my book validates it.”
If you would like to publish a photo of Professor Taylor, please use this black & white head shot and credit photographer Don Usner.
ABOUT KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is Assistant Professor in African American Studies at Princeton University. She received her Ph.D. in African American Studies at Northwestern University. Professor Taylor writes on Black politics, social movements, and racial inequality in the United States. Her articles have been published in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, Jacobin, New Politics, The Guardian, New Republic, Ms. Magazine, and other publications.
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation is her first book. She is currently working on a second manuscript, titled Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis in the 1970s, under contract with the University of North Carolina Press in their Justice, Power and Politics series. This book will at U.S. housing policy in the late 1960s and 1970s and its unintended consequence of reinforcing residential segregation and housing inequality.
ABOUT LANNAN FOUNDATION
Lannan Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity, and creativity through projects that support exceptional contemporary artists and writers, as well as inspired Native activists in rural indigenous communities.
Chika Okeke-Agulu, associate professor of Art and Archaeology and African American studies, has been awarded the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism from the College Art Association (CAA) for his book Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in 20th-Century Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2015). The award, given for significant published art criticism that has appeared in publication in a one-year period, is named in honor of art critic and scholar Mather, who came to Princeton in 1910 from Johns Hopkins University as the first Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology, and became the director of the Princeton University Art Museum in 1922. Okeke-Agulu accepted the award at the CAA annual convention on Feb. 3 in Washington, D.C.
Read an excerpt from the introduction of Postcolonial Modernism:
Let me cite three examples of how a particular perspective on the colonial history of Africa has undermined the reception and appreciation of modern African art of the type covered in this study. In their classic 1964 book on African sculpture, two eminent ethnologists, the Briton William Fagg and the American Margaret Plass, summarily dismissed the work of African modernists thus: “we are not concerned here with ‘contemporary’ African art, which for all its merits is an extension of European art by a kind of involuntary cultural colo-nialism.” More than three decades later, a European museum curator conﬁdently justiﬁed the marginalization of contemporary African art in international art exhibitions by noting that “it seems like third-rate artwork to us because the art presented here emulates the Western tradition—this is a criterion for selection—and because it is always lagging behind, regardless of how commendable the eﬀort might be basically.” And ﬁnally, only a few years ago the British scholar Rasheed Araeen declared the naturalistic, colonial-era portrait paintings of Aina Onabolu to be a form of “mimicry under the tutelage of colonial paternalism.”Central to these three assessments of modern African art are two important, unﬂattering assumptions about this work: ﬁrst, the idea that it is a weak copy, a product of involuntary mimicry of European art; and second, its apparent belatedness, that is to say, its perpetual condition of being out of time, quintessentially anachronistic, and completely evacuated of any radical potential.
The Frank Mather Award for Art Criticism has been awarded each year since 1963. Professor Okeke-Agulu is the second black art historian to receive the award. Okwui Enzenor won the prize in 2006 (see: full list of past Mather recipients).
View the full list of 2016 CAA award recipients: 2016 Awards for Distinction
Visit Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu’s blog, Ọfọdunka, for more information about his work.