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Race, Identity, & Social Order Michelle Alexander. “The extent or severity of punishment is often unrelated to actual crimes patterns.”. Ossie Davis’ Eulogy.

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race identity social order michelle alexander

Race, Identity, & Social OrderMichelle Alexander

“The extent or severity of punishment is often unrelated to actual crimes patterns.”

ossie davis eulogy
Ossie Davis’ Eulogy
  • “Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man; for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them:
    • Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did, you would know him. And if you knew him, you would know why we must honor him: Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood!”
ossie davis eulogy1
Ossie Davis’ Eulogy
  • “However we may have differed with him—or with each other about him and his value as a man—let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.
    • Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man—but a seed—which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us.
  • And we will know him then for what he was and is—a prince—our own black shining prince!—who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”
slide4

Why did you eulogize Malcolm X?

    • “You may anticipate my defense somewhat by considering the following fact: no Negro has yet asked me that question. (My pastor in Grace Baptist Church where I teach Sunday school preached a sermon about Malcolm in which he called him a "giant in a sick world.") Every one of the many letters I got from my own people lauded Malcolm as a man, and commended me for having spoken at his funeral.
  • At the same time-and this is important most of them took special pains to disagree with much or all of what Malcolm said and what he stood for. That is, with one singing exception, they all, every last, black, glory-hugging one of them, knew that Malcolm—whatever else he was or was not—Malcolm was a man!”
ossie davis
Ossie Davis
  • “White folks do not need anybody to remind them that they are men. We do! This was his one incontrovertible benefit to his people.
    • Protocol and common sense require that Negroes stand back and let the white man speak up for us, defend us, and lead us from behind the scene in our fight. This is the essence of Negro politics.
  • But Malcolm said to hell with that! Get up off your knees and fight your own battles. That’s the way to win back your self-respect. That’s the way to make the white man respect you. And if he won’t let you live like a man, he certainly can’t keep you from dying like one!”
ossie davis1
Ossie Davis
  • You can imagine what a howling, shocking nuisance this man was to both Negroes and whites. Once Malcolm fastened on you, you could not escape.
    • He was one of the most fascinating and charming men I have ever met, and never hesitated to take his attractiveness and beat you to death with it. Yet his irritation, though painful to us, was most salutary. He would make you angry as hell, but he would also make you proud.
  • It was impossible to remain defensive and apologetic about being a negro in his presence. He wouldn’t let you. And you always left his presence with the sneaky suspicion that maybe, after all, you were a man!”
slide7

“I knew the man personally, and however much I disagreed with him, I never doubted that Malcolm X even when he was wrong, was always that rarest thing in the world among us Negroes: a true man.

    • And if, to protect my relations with the many good white folks who make it possible for me to earn a fairly good living in the entertainment industry, I was too chicken, too cautious, to admit that fact when he was alive, I thought at least that now, when all the white folks are safe from him at last,
  • I could be honest with myself enough to lift my hat for one final salute to that brave, black, ironic gallantry, which was his style and hallmark; that shocking zing of fire-and-be-damned-to-you, so absolutely absent in every other Negro man I know, which brought him, too soon, to his death.”
michelle alexander
Michelle Alexander
  • b. 1967
  • Stanford Law degree
  • Former director ACLU Racial Justice Project
  • Clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun
  • Ohio State
infra law
Infra-Law
  • Foucault: Disciplines as “infra-law” (222)
    • System of omnipresent but uncertain surveillance
    • “systems of micro-power that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymmetrical”
      • Example: female sexual morality, health, violence, surveillance
    • Treated as very foundation of society, without which it will collapse
      • “a series of mechanisms for unbalancing power relations definitively and everywhere; hence the persistence in regarding them as the humble, but concrete form of every morality, whereas they are a set of physico-political techniques.” (223)
    • “The formation of knowledge and the increase of power regularly reinforce one another in a circular process” (224)
    • Names and power
    • Welfare queens, drug lords, gangsters
the southern strategy
The Southern Strategy
    • Interviewer: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?
  • Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff.
    • You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that.
  • But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger.”
tough on crime
Tough on Crime
  • Reagan: "She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.”
    • Did not exist
    • Playing on negative stereotypes about black laziness & dishonesty
  • George HW Bush & Willie Horton
tough on crime1
Tough on Crime
  • Sister Souljah
      • Question: "Even the people themselves who were perpetrating that violence [in the LA riots], did they think that was wise? Was that a wise reasoned action?"
    • Souljah: "Yeah, it was wise. I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?… White people, this government and that mayor were well aware of the fact that black people were dying every day in Los Angeles under gang violence.”
  • Clinton: “If you took the words ‘white’ and ‘black,’ and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech.”
    • Distancing self from Jesse Jackson & his Rainbow Coalition, of which Sister Souljah was a member
    • "Sister Souljah moment”
  • 1992 execution of Ricky Ray Rector
    • “I can be nicked for a lot, but no one can say I’m soft on crime.”