Just one day after a Minnesota jury took the unusual step of convicting a white police officer for the hyper-mediated, brutal killing of an unarmed Black man, police officers shot and killed another unarmed Black man in North Carolina. And these events had followed the shooting death of yet another unarmed Black man the week before — less than 10 miles from where the killer of George Floyd was on trial. Such is the reality of race and policing in America.

Our nation now finds itself at a critical juncture with respect to its enduring history of white supremacy and related struggles with police brutality. Social movements like Black Lives Matter and DIVEST/INVEST recently have surged to the forefront of our consciousness, demanding that we respect the sanctity of Black (and brown) life by fundamentally rethinking how we invest in public safety in America.

Here in the UCLA Division of Social Sciences, we are committed to advancing this conversation. We are dedicated to supporting research that helps us to better understand the structural factors underlying the great social justice issues of our time, such as our struggles with race and policing. Embedded in the #1 public university located in one of the most diverse cities in the world, we are ideally positioned to address the critical issues facing our communities. Through the work of our world-class faculty and our students — who will become the leaders of tomorrow – we strive to be a leading agent for change across the nation and around the world. Our voice matters.

Movements for Social Justice motivate many of the division’s researchers to gain a better understanding of the forces that shape the world. LA Social Science is pleased to share this video highlighting two such researchers, Drs. Kelly Lytle Hernandez and Abel Valenzuela, and the important, action-oriented research they are leading in the social sciences.

As a public institution, our work is ultimately in service of the diverse communities we represent. By engaging LA, we are changing the world.