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Pictured left to right: Dr. Vanessa Thompson, Dr. Gloria Wekker (keynote speaker), & Dr. SA Smythe

On October 10-11, 2019, a two-day symposium co-organized by Dr. SA Smythe (African American Studies Department, UCLA) and Dr. Vanessa Thompson (Goethe Universitate, Germany), was well attended by students, staff, and faculty from UCLA and other universities in the Southern California area, as well as those from the local Los Angeles community. It featured presentations and performances from around two dozen scholars, artists, and activists seeking to productively engage the project of Black Europe from a transnational and intersectional feminist perspective. This included working within and across the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, history, literary criticism/comparative literature, gender studies, and performance.

Presentations addressed many relevant topics key to understanding our contemporary political moment, such as the following: the issue of Black people who are rendered non-citizen within Fortress Europe; urban insurrections in the aftermath of police killings of Black youth in Paris, London, Stockholm, and other European countries; mobilizations against anti-black imagery and public demonstrations, such as those against Zwarte Piete (Black Pete) in the Netherlands or anti-blackface campaigns in German and Swiss theatres; struggles for decolonization in educational institutions and on street names, as well as for the decolonization of colonial museums; the notion of abolition and reparations on national and global scales; and the material memories of enslavement, colonialism, imperialism, and their aftermaths.

These topics and more did not only speak to the current conjunctures of Blackness in Europe, but also signal the importance of these formations and struggles as radical contributions to the global formations of Blackness writ large, and the Black radical tradition and Black feminist freedom visions and horizons in particular. Thus, “On the Matter of Blackness in Europe” provided timely perspectives on formations of Blackness and Black struggles within and across the Black Atlantic and the Black Mediterranean that challenged monolithic or dominant iterations of Black study and Black people, while still being attentive to practices of Black solidarity that transcend national containers and are expressed in and through temporal, spatial, performative, commemorative, cultural, and poetic interventions and imaginaries.

The symposium featured a keynote address from Distinguished Professor Emerita Gloria Wekker of Utrecht University (UCLA PhD alum, 1992). It was intentionally organized during European Black History Month, and during the 50th anniversary of the first Black and Ethnic Studies departments in the US. Drs. Smythe and Thompson wanted to have UCLA provide some of the context and the conditions to continue to take transnational feminist approaches to all Black Studies seriously, in a way that allows us to both recognize how African American Studies and Black European Studies share in similar struggles, legacies, and commitments to the struggle for liberation and the joyous matter of Black life from different material and historical conditions.

Please check out the following videos from this excellent two-day symposium at UCLA:

Borderscapes, Colonial Memories, and Policing the Crisis – 10.11.19

Keynote by Dr. Gloria Wekker (Professor Emerita, Utrecht) – 10.11.19

Blackness Conference Remarks by Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson (UCLA) – 10.11.19

Closing Reflections by the Chair of African American Studies at UCLA, Dr. Marcus Hunter – 10.11.19

Closing Remarks by Dr. SA Smythe (UCLA) and Dr. Vanessa Thompson (Goethe Universitat: Frankfurt)

 

Jasmin A. Young is currently a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA in the Department of African American Studies. As a historian, her research focuses on African American history, 20th Century U.S. History, and gender studies. She specializes in African American women’s history, social movements, and the Black radical tradition.

Originally from Los Angeles, Jasmin Young began her academic career at California State University, Northridge. After graduation, she moved to NYC to attend Columbia University where she received her Masters in African American Studies and worked with the late Dr. Manning Marable. With a desire to ground herself in gender theories, Dr. Young moved to the UK to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), earning a second Masters of Science from the Gender Institute.

In 2018, Dr. Young graduated with a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her dissertation, “Black Women with Guns: A Historical Analysis of Armed Resistance 1892-1979,” offers a long history of women’s political engagement with Black militant activism from the Reconstruction to the Black Power era.

She is developing her book manuscript, Black Women with Guns: Armed Resistance in the Black Freedom Struggle, which is the first intellectual and social history of Black women’s use of armed resistance as a tool to achieve freedom in post–World War II America. While historical studies have assumed armed resistance was a male prerogative, she makes a significant intervention in the historiography by recovering a history of Black women who engaged in and advocated armed resistance from 1955-1979. Using archival research and gender theories, the book argues that Black women increasingly politicized armed resistance, both in theory and in practice, as the Black Freedom Movement shifted its objectives from integration to self-determination. Ultimately, Black Women with Guns broadens our understanding of the Black freedom struggle by expanding what we regard as political thought and action. It also reveals a more multifaceted struggle whose objectives and strategies were continually contested and evolving.

She presented her research to a packed house at UCLA’s Black Forum this past year where she fielded questions and led a great discussion on the intersection of state violence resistance and Radical Black Feminism. Dr. Young has presented her work at various national conferences including the Organization of American Historians. Her work has garnered general public attention and has been featured in the media. You can listen to her interview for the Black Agenda Report with Glen Ford HERE. She was also the historical consultant and writer for a documentary entitled, “Tracking Ida.”

Dr. Young is regarded as a rising junior scholar with cutting-edge research that connects the historical and contemporary understanding and contributions of Black Feminism. Many have attested to her accomplishments and many are eager to read her book when published. For example, fellow scholars at UCLA have said, “Jasmin’s intellectual maturity and complete dedication to research are among her most salient qualities. I was particularly impressed by how she theorized on Malcolm X’s intellectual development as influenced by the Detroit activist community, as well as when she investigated the contradictions of hyper-visibility and invisibility of Black women transnationally in hip-hop culture.”

She has been a great scholar to have in UCLA’s African American Studies Department as well as across campus. Dr. Young’s research reflects the caliber and innovation UCLA offers students, faculty, and the broader community.

The National Science Foundation has issued a nearly $1 million grant to a group of racial and ethnic politics researchers from across the nation led by UCLA’s Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, and Matt Barreto, Professor of Political Science and Chicana and Chicano Studies.  It will help support the groundbreaking Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey, known as the CMPS, which looks to bring together young scholars and expands the number of ethnic and racial groups participating in a national survey. In its fourth installment, the CMPS will examine the 2020 election.

In a UCLA Newsroom story, written by Jessica Wolf, Professor Frasure-Yokley stated, “We accomplished what we set out to do, which was radically expand opportunities, especially for those early in their career or who are working at smaller or minority-serving institutions, to conduct research and even more importantly – publish their research, which is necessary to advance one’s academic career. And now, with stronger infrastructure provided by this major NSF grant, we can focus on expanding those opportunities even more.”

L.A. Social Science would like to congratulate both Professors Frasure-Yokley and Barreto and their research team. Read the entire UCLA Newsroom story HERE.

 

 

Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Dr. Kelly Lytle Hernandez, Professor of History and African American Studies at UCLA, has been awarded the 2019 MacArthur Fellowship. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation honors 26 luminaries, who each receive $625,000 over five years. The Chicago-based foundation has awarded these “genius” grants every year since 1981 to help further the pursuits of people with outstanding talent.

As the Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, Professor Lytle Hernandez is one of the nation’s leading experts on race, immigration, and mass incarceration. She is also the author of the following award-winning books, Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol and City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles.

Currently, Professor Lytle Hernandez is the principal investigator for Million Dollar Hoods, a university-based, community-driven research project that maps the fiscal and human cost of mass incarceration in Los Angeles.

The following is an excerpt of a LA Social Science interview with Professor Lytle Hernandez reflecting on her significant and impactful research:

LASS:     Why is it important to do this type of research?

KLH:       Well, I’ve now written two books. The first book was a history of the US Border Patrol, so it’s about race and policing on the US Mexico border. And the second book is about the rise of mass incarceration here in Los Angeles. This too was about race and indigeneity and policing in our local area. And what I’ve learned in the last 20 years of study and in the completion of those two books, is that our carceral regime is really geared toward a system of what we call in settler colonial studies is, mass elimination, that this isn’t a responsive system to so called deviancies that are happening out in the community, that on its grand mass scale, in fact, it is geared toward removing, encouraging, i.e. eliminating targeted populations, namely for Black folks or Brown folks and Native communities and queer communities.

So when I came to this really chilling understanding of what’s happening around us, it’s not just the prison industrial complex, that is about generating profits off of our bodies, but it is also about banishment and elimination. One has to ask themselves who they are, not just as a scholar, but as a person, do I simply document what’s happening around us in this world or do I try to intervene? So that’s where Million Dollar Hoods came from. It’s really a community-based research project that we have grounded here at UCLA. I work with a variety of community based organizations to determine what we want to know about the current trends in policing and incarceration, so that we can interrupt them and that we can move us in a new direction.

LASS:     What is the impact you are hoping that your work provides?

KLH:       It’s twofold. So we hope that our research advances the movement not just to end mass incarceration, but to reinvest in education, in healthcare, and employment and housing and counseling, and parks, and so on and so on – that certainly is one aspect of it. The other is that we are highly committed to training a new generation of data analysts and public scholars. So if you look at our team, we probably have one of the most unique data teams in the country, where we are Black and Brown majority, we are residents of million dollar hoods majority. We have a sizable number, notable number of formerly incarcerated students, and what we’re doing is training people up to be the researchers, to put the power of the data in their hands moving forward. We’re really proud of that dimension as well.

So yes, it’s the research, but anyone can do the research and in some ways any team – if they figured out how to work with community – can do the research. We are transforming who has access to the skill set to run those analyses and we’re proud of both of those accomplishments.

LA Social Science would like to congratulate Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez on this well-deserved honor, and wish her and the other awardees much success as they continue to demonstrate “extraordinary originality.”

Courtesy: SHONAGH RAE

The New York Times recently hosted the New Rules Summit which inspired the article entitled, “From Inclusion to Support: How to Build a Better Workplace”. This piece highlights important conversations and possible solutions on how to move towards a more equitable workplace for women. Many leaders with diverse backgrounds including culture, business, education, and politics came together to further examine women and power in the workplace/workforce. They discussed the countless obstacles working women face and the need for immediate change.

Among the New Summit Rules attendees was Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, an Associate Professor at UCLA in Information Studies and African American Studies. She is best known for her interests and expertise in algorithmic discrimination and technology bias. In fact, Dr. Noble wrote the best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. Much of her work looks at race, gender, culture, and technology and its influence in digital media.

As an expert in her field, Dr. Noble contributed to the conversation around how artificial intelligence (A.I.) can be biased, hence disregarding women and other underrepresented groups. She stated, “We can’t let the machines overdetermine the future. Human beings must always be in charge of machines, not the machines in charge of the women, the people, the society. That seemed to be a through line in our discussion. The question is: How will the largess or the profits and resources that accrue from increasing automation be redirected back into society to benefit society?” This is a realistic concern to consider. Although, A.I. is groundbreaking work, it is important to understand that the values guiding it remain unbiased and just in order for true, progressive transformation to happen.

Some of the other proposed changes for more equity in the workplace emphasize the necessity to recruit more women workers to hold both senior and junior positions as well as create an environment that is family-friendly and values women. Similarly, focusing on retaining women workers by offering more autonomy, flexibility, and balance as options. Additional suggestions mention child-care services, paid family leave, men as allies, building an empowering office space culture, and disrupting socialized gender roles. The article continues to make very critical points that hopefully we will see implemented sooner than later.

Courtesy: Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post
President Barack Obama takes the stage, with daughters Sasha and Malia and wife Michelle at his side, at Grant Park in Chicago on Nov. 4, 2008.

“Columbia has a rich oral history tradition and they’ve assembled an impressive group of scholars — I’m excited to start that work later this year.” -Dr. Karida Brown

These words come from our very own Dr. Karida Brown, Assistant professor in the Sociology and African American Studies departments here at UCLA. Dr. Brown earned her doctorate degree in Sociology from Brown University. Her research and teaching interests focus around historical sociology, oral history, race and ethnicity, social theory, migration, education, W.E.B. Du Bois, community archives and public arts. Because of Dr. Brown’s extensive background and expertise, we are honored to share that she has been appointed by the Obama Foundation and Columbia University to be on the Advisory Board to the official Obama Presidency Oral History Project.

This exciting news was made public on Thursday, May 16th, 2019. Columbia News officially stated, “Columbia University and the Obama Foundation are pleased to announce that the Columbia Center for Oral History Research has been selected to produce the official oral history of the presidency of Barack Obama (CC ’83). This project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of his historic terms in office. The University of Hawaiʻi and the University of Chicago will partner with Columbia in this project. The University of Hawaiʻi will focus on President Obama’s early life, and the University of Chicago will concentrate on the Obamas’ lives in Chicago.” The plans to commence with this project will take place in July.

Certainly, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will be a huge undertaking. Over the next five years, the team of appointed experts, including Dr. Brown, will help contribute to the compilation of President Barack Obama’s and Michelle Obama’s life history. They will be tasked with gathering over 400 interviews from a diverse group of individuals who will offer valuable insights and anecdotes of their personal accounts with the Obama family.

Kimberly Springer who is Columbia’s Oral History Archives’ Curator on the project offered words of wisdom about how history is “…preserving our past for use in the future…so that current and future generations of historians and citizens can learn lessons from our times.” Undoubtedly, the rich stories and details gathered from the Obamas and countless others, will leave a powerful impact. There is so much we can learn from, be inspired by, and appreciate from their lived experiences. Moreover, it will be a privilege to read about the nuances, challenges, and triumphs of the man who made history as the first African American President of the United States and his journey with his family while leading our nation.

UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences is full of amazing faculty, staff, and students who are contributing to academic scholarship in major ways. Dr. Marcus Hunter is certainly one of these people. Dr. Hunter is a dedicated professor of sociology, the chair of the African American studies department, and a respected author.

Most recently, Dr. Hunter was recognized by the UCLA Newsroom for his book he co-authored with Dr. Zandria F. Robinson titled, Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life. This book is filled with the rich history of the Black American experience dating back to the 1900s and focuses on how Black Americans created their own “Chocolate Cities” where black culture is maintained, created, and defended. It touches on diverse topics including race, racism, place, space, knowledge, and liberation as well as the social, cultural, economic, and political influence. Looking through the eyes of Black Americans and highlighting the way they define their American story, it breaks down preconceived notions of American history told by white America.

To learn more, read the interview with Marcus Hunter about his renowned book HERE.

Chocolate Cities map

 

The UCLA Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics (CSREP) and Race, Ethnicity and Politics (REP) Workshop presented the Mark Q. Sawyer Memorial Lecture in Racial and Ethnic Politics on Thursday, January 10, 2019. In remembrance of the late Professor Mark Q. Sawyer, the lecture’s goal is to highlight the outstanding research of an advanced assistant or associate professor whose work focuses on racial and ethnic politics in the United States and internationally. Professor Danielle Clealand from Florida International University was the honored first guest lecturer who shared compelling research from her book, The Power of Race in Cuba: Racial Ideology & Black Consciousness During the Revolution.

Mark Q. Sawyer

Students, staff, professors, and community members attended the event to celebrate Professor Sawyer’s life and honor his legacy. The room overflowed with those eager to hear about Professor Clealand’s work that aligns with Professor Sawyer’s previous work (e.g., his critically acclaimed book Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba). Professor Clealand examines comparative racial politics, group consciousness, black public opinion, and racial inequality with a focus on the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and the United States. Her award-winning book examines racial ideology and the institutional mechanisms that support racial inequality in Cuba as well as black public opinion.

Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez, who serves as interim director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, gave the welcoming remarks. She thanked and acknowledged those involved in making the memorial lecture possible, especially Professor Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, the first woman of color to earn tenure and promotion in the Political Science Department at UCLA, who spearheaded the entire event. In her introductory remarks, Professor Frasure-Yokley shared that Professor Sawyer had been a great mentor and friend. In fact, it was Professor Sawyer who encouraged Professor Frasure-Yokley to apply for a professorship at UCLA. That advice allowed them to be UCLA colleagues for ten years. She also stated, “Mark loved UCLA and his discipline enough to constantly challenge it to be better and do better.” In addition, Professors Lytle Hernandez and Frasure-Yokley reminded those in attendance that the reason why many get to enjoy and benefit from having the Department of African American Studies at UCLA is greatly attributed to Professor Sawyer for shepherding the application that led to its establishment.

During her informative presentation, Professor Clealand shared a snapshot of her findings from survey, ethnographic, and interview data that touched on structural racism in Cuba, black public opinion, black solidarity, and black consciousness by way of hip-hop.

Fortunately, like many others, Professor Clealand was lucky to have been mentored by Professor Sawyer as well. She mentioned that as a first-year graduate student she met Professor Sawyer, who later became a mentor to her. She often thinks of the similar work they have done and has asked herself, “How can I continue his legacy, how he helped me?” She believes it is by celebrating his legacy and imprint that he has had on her and many other scholars.

It has been nearly two years since Professor Sawyer’s passing. His wife, Professor Celia Lacayo was in attendance and offered a few words during the closing remarks. She emotionally expressed her gratitude for everyone who had helped to remember and honor her husband. Especially because it seemed quite fitting that this event happened to fall on his birthday. She commented that it was great to see how Professor Clealand’s work aligned with Professor Sawyer’s and that it was important to keep his legacy alive. She remarked that he planted many seeds, and it’s good to see them bloom. Aside from his academic success, Professor Lacayo felt fortunate to have Professor Sawyer as a life partner and father to their daughter. Finally, she left us with this piece of advice her husband lived by, which is to continue to “break doors down and create more opportunities for people of color.”

From left to right: Drs. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, Danielle Clealand, Celia Lacayo, and Marcus Hunter

Congratulations to UCLA Associate Professor, Bryonn Bain, for his recently published article in the UCLA Women’s Law Journal titled, “Women Beyond Bars: A Post-Prison Interview with Jennifer Claypool and Wendy Staggs.” This article focuses on these two amazing women, Jennifer Claypool and Wendy Staggs who Professor Bain met while teaching at the California Institution for Women (CIW). These women openly and honestly share their lived experiences before CIW, during CIW, and presently as returning citizens.

In addition, released this week is the Women Beyond Bars: Reentry and Human Rights report which was developed with the CIW Think Tank and the UCLA Law School International Human Rights Clinic of which Professor Bain serves as Project Co-Director with Professor E. Tendayi Achiume. A brief description of the report shared on the UCLA Law website states that the purpose of this report is to focus on “the needs of formerly incarcerated women reentering Los Angeles communities” as well as serve as “a guide and set of recommendations for ensuring that reentering women have access to housing and employment.” The report’s executive summary is available HERE.

Please come out to support the launch of the Women Beyond Bars: Reentry and Human Rights report at “Creating Liberation from Incarceration: Women Beyond Bars” on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30 from 4:30pm to 6:00pm at UCLA’s Kerckhoff Art Gallery. For more details about the event and to RSVP, click HERE.

Although the academic year is winding down, Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, Associate Professor of Political Science at UCLA,[1] is only getting started. In addition to her own teaching, research, and initiatives for first generation students, she is also organizing the upcoming Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey (CMPS) Summer Research Conference at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs on August 8-10, 2018. We caught up with Dr. Frasure-Yokley, in a two-part series, to learn a bit more about her passion for research and educating the next generation of policy makers and researchers.

Part 1

LASS:     Where are you from and where did you go to school?

LFY:        I grew up on Chicago’s south side where I attended Chicago Public Schools, K through 12. I went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for undergrad, and then onto the University of Chicago for a Masters in Public Policy. During my MPP program, I got an internship at the General Accounting Office, now, the Government Accountability Office in Washington, DC, and I was offered a full-time job after graduation, but I knew that my heart really was in academia. I wanted to examine politics and policy, but I wanted to have greater autonomy? I decided to continue on and apply for PhD programs, but I’m also pragmatic, so I decided to apply in the Washington, D.C area just in case I didn’t really like the PhD program. I actually deferred my job. I deferred my position in Washington, D.C, and I started at the University of Maryland, College Park for a PhD in Political Science.

“…Every week [holds] new discoveries, because we’re challenging one another to think about race, ethnicity, and gender beyond the dummy variable.” – Dr. Frasure-Yokley

LASS:     Tell me about teaching. What classes are you teaching right now, and why did you decide to teach those classes?

LFY:        Sure. I am teaching an undergraduate course called Introduction to Race, Ethnicity and Politics [REP], and we trace, in the first half of the course, the socioeconomic, political, and cultural road of various racial ethnic groups, blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, whites, Asians in the country, and we look at their development in the US until the post civil rights movement, so 1965, 1970. Then, we use the lens of their historical and cultural and economic and social trajectory as a lens through which to examine various policy issues, voting rights, political behavior, public opinion, other kinds of political issues of our time.

It’s a small course, which I value in this department to be able to teach a small course and I always get to have greater interaction with students than I do in my larger courses.

Then, I’m teaching a graduate course. It is a rewarding experience to bring the intersections of not just race and ethnicity, but race, ethnicity and gender to the study of political behavior, public opinion, and ideology, these kinds of other factors that we care about in political science…the lens of the course is intersectionality. We look at all of the readings through the lens of the role of disparities and oppression of particular kinds of marginalized groups, but the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status.

LFY:        It’s my first time teaching this course, and it is a packed house. I have 17 wonderful graduate students. It’s a very large course.

LASS:     That’s a big class for the graduate level.

LFY:        It’s huge, but every week [holds] new discoveries, because we’re challenging one another to think about race, ethnicity, and gender beyond the dummy variable. Today’s course, we read two books on white womanhood and conservative politics. Mothers of Massive Resistance is one new book that challenges our notions of whiteness and white womanhood and the role that white women played in shaping the conservative right movement. It’s just a spirited class. It’s a great class. It’s a lot of work, because it’s challenging our paradigms. It’s challenging white women as the reference category. What does that mean? What do we lose by not truly theorizing about white womanhood? We fought so long in REP to have a space to theorize about black women and Latinas and Asian-American women. What have we lost by failing to theorize about white women, for example, and the intersections of class and race and place and geography for white women.

Now, I also teach the Politics of American Suburbanization, which is like an urban politics course, but I incorporate various modes of geography, instead of just thinking about the role of the nation state, and the role it played on why our geographic space looks the way it does, and why it’s stratified in the US the way it is between city and suburb, and rural areas.

LASS:     Tell me this, then. Of all the classes that you can teach, why specifically the topics that you decided to teach on. Why is that important?

LFY:        When I was in graduate school, there was not a formal space for the study of race ethnicity in politics. The field is relatively new. The majority of scholars who study race, ethnicity in politics may have opted for the field of American politics, which is a more traditional field in political science. Although we do have REP scholars who are in comparative politics or political theory, and so forth, but the majority of them are in American politics.

How do we create theories and methodologies that fit well… in terms of really positioning the role of race and ethnicity, and what that means for modern politics? It’s not a one-size fit all when you examine various racial ethnic groups. We have a race ethnicity and immigration (REI) lab where students can workshop their work at any stage of the process. We’ve been working so hard over the last 11, 12 years to create a dynamic and inclusive space for the study of race, ethnicity and politics at UCLA. Our students are thriving. We had numerous students on the job market this year, and all of our students, whose primary field is REP have been placed in both post-docs and tenure track jobs this year. Our students are getting external funding, research grants, publishing widely, and securing top jobs all around the country. We have a lot to celebrate.

Continue to Part 2.

Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley was interviewed by Mike Nguyen, an assistant editor and contributor to LA Social Science.

[1] She will soon have a courtesy joint appointment in African American Studies.