Five Years Later: Two Sociohistorical Analyses from The Race and Policing Project
The Race and Policing Project has taken on a particular urgency after a decade of unrest. I wanted to talk about the ways TRPP is using the energy of protest to enhance peer-reviewable research. The fuel for TRPP has primarily been students. They have a hunger to make sense of the issues immediately as they do not square with the ethos of justice and equality that they are sold.
I think that many times people think that protest, politics, and peer-review are too distinct to be intertwined so tightly. However, our lived realities would beg fervently to differ. We need both to enhance both (not each other, but as-one).
Below are two examples I have lent to students to demonstrate how protest, politics, and peer-review really do go hand and hand. The ecological projects were driven by trying to provide a pithy summary to my undergraduate researchers in Sociology. I started with what, even I thought was a juxtaposition, but in the end through the social historian methods was not so dissonant after all. I will lead:
What, IF ANYTHING, Does Police Violence Have To Do With Racial Segregation?
The first story I found was that of Grady Memorial Hospital -- a long-disinvested public hospital that is ground zero for trauma response in the state of Georgia -- whether it is a gun shot or a heart attack.
Grady is also the place where many of Atlanta's poor and disenfranchised youth are born and healed. This hospital is redlined, stuck in the center of Atlanta's historically negro redlined neighborhoods -- anchored by Du Bois's Atlanta University Center on the west and MLK Jr's birthplace in Old Fourth Ward on the east. Outfitted primarily by medical professionals in training at Emory University School of Medicine or Morehouse School of Medicine, the hospital became a Level 1 trauma center less than 5 years.
In Atlanta, it takes about 1 hr to walk across the city from the nearest Westside redlined district (the AUC) to the nearest Eastside redlined district (Old Fourth Ward, birthplace of MLK Jr). That walk would likely lead you past historically disinvested Grady Memorial Hospital. pic.twitter.com/mT8N9Ht8s4— RaceAndPolicing (@RaceAndPolicing) March 11, 2021
The second story I found was that of George Floyd Square -- the streets of which were a place of vigilant protest in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder in May 2020.
Here, I overlayed parvel-level information from the Mapping Prejudice project at the Minnesota Libraries with a Wikipedia map of George Floyd Square, drawing out what I believe are the resilient red-lines of South Minneapolis -- that is, the southeast quadrant anchoring the intersection of Chicago Ave and East 47th Street.
Did you know that George Floyd Square is historically redlined? It is exactly 10 blocks north of Chicago Ave and E 47th St, whose southeast quadrant was stabilized against integration by a row of racial covenants effective until 1925. Check out parcel-level docs @MapPrejudice. pic.twitter.com/AgKxPAjWru— RaceAndPolicing (@RaceAndPolicing) March 11, 2021
Check out a fuller discussion on the Official Twitter Feed of TRPP!
I would like academic scholarship to see the day where research does not have two sides of the coin, or a daylight ring. I want to see a day where research can stand in the sun of service to society, without believing that it must be devoid of it to claim legitimacy. Either you are a science of society, or a science of society.
The study of bee pollen must be as community-responsible as the study of systemic racism. Science has a responsibility to the other end of the microscope. Hopefully, TRPP can serve a role in bearing that responsibility. Because, all it takes is one block to show the relevance of systemic racism and, perhaps block by block, to tear it down.