Author: Ruha Benjamin in Conversation with Nicole Fleetwood

Nov. 3, 2022

This recording is presented in partnership by Princeton Public Library, Labyrinth Books and Princeton University Press. Ruha Benjamin of Princeton University discusses her new book, "Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want," with Nicole Fleetwood of New York University.

 

From the publisher: "Long before the pandemic, Ruha Benjamin was doing groundbreaking research on race, technology, and justice, focusing on big, structural changes. But the twin plagues of COVID-19 and anti-Black police violence inspired her to rethink the importance of small, individual actions. Part memoir, part manifesto, 'Viral Justice' is a sweeping and deeply personal exploration of how we can transform society through the choices we make every day.

Vividly recounting her personal experiences and those of her family, Benjamin shows how seemingly minor decisions and habits could spread virally and have exponentially positive effects. She recounts her father’s premature death, illuminating the devastating impact of the chronic stress of racism, but she also introduces us to community organizers who are fostering mutual aid and collective healing. Through her brother’s experience with the criminal justice system, we see the trauma caused by policing practices and mass imprisonment, but we also witness family members finding strength as they come together to demand justice for their loved ones. And while her own challenges as a young mother reveal the vast inequities of our healthcare system, Benjamin also describes how the support of doulas and midwives can keep Black mothers and babies alive and well."

Ruha Benjamin is an internationally recognized writer, speaker, and professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she is the founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab. She is the award-winning author of "Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code" and editor of Captivating Technology, among many other publications. Her work has been featured widely in the media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, The Root, and The Guardian.

Nicole R. Fleetwood is the inaugural James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication in the Steinhardt School at New York University. A MacArthur Fellow, she is a writer, curator, and art critic whose interests are contemporary Black diasporic art and visual culture, photography studies, art and public practice, performance studies, gender and feminist studies, Black cultural history, creative nonfiction, prison abolition and carceral studies, and poverty studies. Her most recent book is "Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration" (Harvard University Press, 2020), winner of numerous prizes. Among other exhibitions and public programs, she is also the curator of the traveling exhibition, "Marking Time: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration," which debuted at MoMA PS1. The exhibition was listed as “one of the most important art moments in 2020” by The New York Times and among the best shows of the year by The New Yorker and Hyperallergic.

This event was recorded on October 27, 2022.