Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Joins Democracy Now

Wednesday, Oct 14, 2020
Part 1: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: We Must Rethink Our Society, from Policing to the Supreme Court

As President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden face off in the first presidential debate in Cleveland, we speak to author and academic Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who says the multiple crises facing the United States are not getting enough attention leading up to the November election. “We’re in the midst of a national reckoning about systemic racism in this country, about the way that things are governed, the way that this country functions,” says Taylor, historian and contributing writer at The New Yorker. “There is such a myopia with Donald Trump that every sentence, every breath, everything that he does absorbs the entirety of public attention.” She also says it’s time to reimagine the U.S. Supreme Court, which has for most of its history acted to enforce “a conservative social order.”

Part 2: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Breonna Taylor's Case Further Erodes Legitimacy of U.S. Institutions

Historian Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor says the Breonna Taylor case is contributing to an “unfolding dynamic of radicalization” in the United States as people see repeated cases of police misconduct go unpunished. A grand jury recently declined to charge any of the officers involved in the 26-year-old EMT’s killing for her death. “To have it go through the 'proper channels' and still come out with a rigged decision raises existential questions for people about the legitimacy of the institutions of governance in the United States,” says Taylor, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University.

Part 3: Philly Activists Reclaim 50 Vacant Homes, Creating Model for Organizing as Mass Evictions Loom

In a historic victory for unhoused people, Philadelphia city officials agreed to hand over 50 vacant homes to a community land trust, following months of organizing and protest encampments. We hear from one of the organizers and speak to Philadelphia-based Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who has written extensively about housing insecurity and says the direct actions there are applicable across the U.S. “This dynamic exists all over the country where you have both empty housing and houseless people, a completely irrational expression of what American capitalism means,” Taylor says. The sustained movement in Philadelphia established “a model for what all tenant organizing and activist groups should be taking up, which is occupy the space, occupy the properties and put political pressure on public housing authorities to do their job and house people that are unhoused.”

[Originally published on September 29, 2020 via Democracy Now. Visit original article to view full transcripts] 

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