Rad Reading: Something more is required of us now. What?

Image is dark blue background with white and grey swirls at the top. A quote reads: “Selling CDs or loose cigarettes? In America, that’s treated as a serious crime, especially if you’re black. For that act of survival, you can be wrestled to the ground and choked to death or shot at point blank range. Our entire system of government is designed to protect and serve the interests of the most powerful, while punishing, controlling and exploiting the least advantaged.” Michelle Alexander is written underneath. At the bottom of the image is the white POC logo.

Image is dark blue background with white and grey swirls at the top. A quote reads: “Selling CDs or loose cigarettes? In America, that’s treated as a serious crime, especially if you’re black. For that act of survival, you can be wrestled to the ground and choked to death or shot at point blank range. Our entire system of government is designed to protect and serve the interests of the most powerful, while punishing, controlling and exploiting the least advantaged.” Michelle Alexander is written underneath. At the bottom of the image is the white POC logo.

by Abaki Beck

Last week, new footage was released of Mike Brown at the convenience store before he was shot and killed by police that appears in an upcoming documentary. One of the apparent “reasons” for his killings was that he was accused of shoplifting. This footage questions whether or not this is true - or if he made an exchange with the store clerk and went to pick up his merchandise later. News of the new footage spread rapidly - with some proclaiming that his shooting was not truly not justified, and others saying the footage has been adjusted to fit the beliefs of the left. For me personally, this does not change much of my opinion of the case: Mike Brown did not deserve to die, whether or not he was a shoplifter. Shoplifting is not punishable by death.

In the years since his shooting, the Black Lives Matter movement grew and has strengthened and spread throughout the nation. Police brutality continues to be a horrendous crime and call for justice of our times. Our reading of the week is Something more is required of us now. What? by Michelle Alexander reflects on organizing around police brutality. In this brief essay, Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, reflects on the recent police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. She argues that something more must be done than providing commentary and assuming that small shifts in the system will make substantial change. In particular, she critiques the idea that "fixing" the police (like by creating task forces on police-community relations) will stop police brutality, as they still exist within a system built on the devaluation and exploitation of POC lives. She urges that activism must not be reactive, but imaginative in how to radically restructure or society and values.

READ IT HERE!


POC Online Classroom strives to make readings and resources that celebrate the intellectual tradition and knowledge production of marginalized communities more accessible. Rad Reading is a new series that highlight texts to read and writers to support! We will post every Tuesday.