Race and Nation in the Age of Trump and Brexit

Gary Younge is an author, broadcaster, and award-winning columnist for the Guardian. He also writes a monthly column for The Nation magazine and is the Alfred Knobler Fellow for The Nation Institute. 

Born in Britain to Barbadian parents, Younge reported all over Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean before being appointed the Guardian’s US correspondent in 2003. In 2009 he won Britain’s prestigious James Cameron Award for “combined moral vision and professional integrity.” 

His first book, No Place Like Home: A Black Briton’s Journey through the Deep South, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His third book, Who Are We—and Should It Matter in the 21st Century?, was shortlisted for the Bristol Festival of Ideas Book Prize. The Speech is his fourth book.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes and speaks on Black politics, social movements, and racial inequality in the United States. She is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, which won the 2016 Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book, and the editor of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, the GuardianSoulsCulture and SocietyJacobinNew PoliticsIn These TimesBlack Agenda ReportMs.International Socialist Review, and many other publications. She is assistant professor in the department of African American Studies at Princeton University.

The Difficult Miracle: The Living Legacy of June Jordan

June Millicent Jordan (1936–2002) called herself a “dissident American poet,” and she counted among her forebears powerful voices ranging from Walt Whitman to Phyllis Wheatley. She began writing verse at the age of seven; her papers at the Harvard University Schlesinger Library contain stunning material about the girlhood that prefaced her remarkable career as creator and critic, educator, and activist.

In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the arrival of the Papers of June Jordan at the Harvard University Schlesinger and the 75th anniversary of the library’s founding, this panel discussion features scholars, poets, and activists exploring the many and ongoing facets of Jordan’s work.

Featuring
Solmaz Sharif (14:56), poet; lecturer, Creative Writing Program, Stanford University

Imani Perry (29:51), Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University

Mariame Kaba (47:08), founder and director, Project NIA

Moderated by
Joshua Bennett, director, June Jordan Fellowship Program, Center for Justice at Columbia University; 2016-2019 junior fellow, Society of Fellows, Harvard University

Introductions by
Jane Kamensky, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute, and professor of history, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Kenvi Phillips (7:06), curator for race and ethnicity, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

 

 

Political Activism and Expression in Today’s NBA

The Steve Mills ’81 Sports, Race and Society Lecture is presented by Princeton African American Studies and the Princeton Department of Athletics.

 

Overview from the Princeton Alumni Weekly – 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told a Princeton audience that when a handful of the league’s stars wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warmups last year, following a Staten Island, N.Y., grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, he appreciated their effort to express their point of view.

Speaking about Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, the first player to wear the shirt, Silver said, “Credit to him — he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew how much more effective that would be than making a statement to a reporter after a game.” But Silver cautioned that too many political statements on the court would be “a disservice to the fans, who come to see a basketball game.”

Steve Mills ’81, general manager of the New York Knicks, and Craig Robinson ’83, an ESPN commentator and former college coach, joined Silver for the March 24 discussion of “Political Expression and Activism in Today’s NBA,” moderated by Professor Eddie Glaude *97.

Black Father in Letter to His Son

Dear Langston,

I thought of you when I saw the son of Alton Sterling weeping at a press conference. It was the latest of a string of haunting public rituals of grief. The police had killed another black person. His cries made me think of you. It seems, ever since the murder of Trayvon Martin—and you were only fifteen then—that you have had to come to terms with this pressing fact: that police can wantonly kill us, and there seems to be little or no protection. That even I can’t protect you.

I remembered that day when the grand jury in Cleveland declined to indict the police officers who killed Tamir Rice. We were in an airport, traveling home. You cursed out loud and paced liked a trapped animal. I didn’t know how to speak to your rage. It was familiar to me, but I didn’t know what to say. How could I keep it from seeping in and coloring your soul a deep shade of blue? And when I read your Facebook posts in response to the death of Sterling and Philando Castile, I felt the sting of your anger. It too was familiar. You are your grandfather’s and father’s child.

James Baldwin wrote—and you know how much I love Baldwin—in “The Uses of the Blues” that “in every generation, ever since Negroes have been here, every Negro mother and father has had to face that child and try to create in that child some way of surviving this particular world, some way to make the child who will be despised not despise himself.” He wrote that in 1964, and here we are in 2016, and I am worried about the state of your spirit—worried that the ugliness of this world and the nastiness of some of the white people who inhabit it might dirty you on the inside. Might take away your infectious smile and replace it with a permanent scowl.

I find myself more often than not, and upon reflection this is an astonishing thing to say no less think, wishing you were seven years old again. You were adorable at seven. The vexations of the teenage years were far off, and you still liked me. But I say this not because I find having an empty nest unbearable, although at times I do, or that I long to raise a teenager again—and eventually you would be that maddening teenager again. I just say it because I feel that you would be safer at home, with us.

Those tears, son, shook me. Diamond Reynolds’s four-year-old baby consoling her mother made me tremble. I love you, and I don’t know what I would do if anything ever happened to you. But I am proud to see your radical rage—your refusal to believe what this world says about you. Keep fighting. And remember, as your grandmother reminds me with all of the wisdom that Mississippi living can muster, that I won’t stop worrying about you until die.

Love,

Dad


Dear Dad,

When I saw those videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I thought of you and mom. I thought of Michael Brown’s mother and the emotions she felt when they stole her son from her, and I wondered about the pain and anguish you both would feel if that was me in those videos. Then I, too, saw the video of Alton Sterling’s son, and I thought about if it had been one of you in those videos, stolen from me by a trigger-happy policeman. The thought alone triggered emotions inside me that I didn’t know existed. I wept.

I remember when I first really started getting into activism. You were always checking up on me, making sure I was safe and that I was being careful about what I said and who I said it to. I thought you were being your typical dad self, over-protective of your little boy. I also remember when I started getting death threats on Facebook and Twitter. A neo-Nazi group had put my picture up on their Twitter page. I was terrified. I ran to you.

You may not have known it then, but your presence at the time was perhaps one of the most important things that could have happened to me. On the outside I appeared to be able to keep my composure, but on the inside I was scared. With a single tweet, my confidence and feeling of safety was shattered. To be honest, I almost didn’t want to go outside. The world seemed like it was doing everything in its power to destroy me. I was overwhelmed. And despite your parental instincts, which I know were screaming to pull me off social media, you pushed me to reach higher, to stand by the right, and to rise above the ugliness I was experiencing. You taught me that fear is natural, but it’s what we do in the face of fear that determines what kind of person we want to be. I will never forget those words. They motivated me. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

In these times of injustice, great anger and grief, I find myself consistently asking, “What would my father do?” Crazy, right? I’m actually listening to your advice for once. But it’s your advice that keeps me going. It’s what you taught me that keeps me pushing for justice. It’s knowing that you love and support me that gives me some sense of safety in this cruel world. And that is everything I need.

Funny, I too find myself wishing that I were a kid again. The world seemed so much simpler back then. But then I remember Tamir Rice. I remember Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Aiyana Jones. I look at the faces of countless black bodies piling up in our streets. And I remember my own experiences with police officers as a kid. The struggle must continue, for our future’s sake.

I love you, Dad.

Langston

Where Can I Imagine You Have Been?: A Reading and Conversation

Award-winning poet/critic Claudia Rankine read from her work on Wednesday, February 10, at 4:30 p.m. in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center. After the reading, Tracy K. Smith, director of the Program in Creative Writing, joined Claudia Rankine for an onstage conversation. The event, part of the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, was free and open to the public.