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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.

LA Social Science presents a new video abstract series that provides a summary or preview of current academic research that you can watch a UCLA scholar explain in a few minutes. Our inaugural episode features Dr. Laura C. Chávez-Moreno, Postdoctoral Scholar at the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, who will join the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o & Central American Studies Department as an Assistant Professor in July 2021.

Journal Abstract:

U.S. teacher education has largely overlooked a sociopolitical-historical context that affects both immigrants and nonimmigrants: American empire. To address the pressing need for teacher education to acknowledge U.S. imperialism, the author stages an argument in three parts. First, she argues that the field should account for empire and its impact on immigrants, and suggests conceptualizing immigrants within a nuanced framework of white supremacy. Next, she relates her own immigrant counternarrative to expose masternarratives that operate against immigrants. By sharing her journey toward understanding imperialism and her own positionality, she also contributes an immigrant perspective to the field. Third, the author introduces the concept of imperial privilege, inviting the field to recognize and challenge masternarratives. The author concludes by inviting readers to historicize U.S. imperialism in their research and practice, and thus embrace more humanizing narratives. While the argument focuses on the United States, it also applies broadly to other high-income imperialist countries.

To learn more, check out her article, “U.S. empire and an immigrant’s counternarrative: Conceptualizing imperial privilege,” that was recently published in Vol 72, Issue 2, 2021 of the Journal of Teacher Education, which is one of the top high-impact journals in the field of education.

 

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On November 15, the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles honored the UCLA Labor Center at its annual celebration. “For over 80 years, NLG has acted as a legal arm of social justice movements, working tirelessly to defend the rights of the most marginalized communities.” Labor Center Director Kent Wong, recently appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti to the Mayor’s Advisory Council on International Affairs, was the master of ceremonies. The virtual event included a powerful program that spotlighted this year’s incredible honorees who have spent decades fighting for justice.

LA Social Science would like to congratulate Director Wong on his new appointment to the Mayor’s Advisory Council on International Affairs, and to the UCLA Labor Center for the outstanding work it does to serve the Los Angeles community.

To learn more about the NLG annual awards celebration, click HERE.

UCLA Anthropology alumnus and Professor Robert B. Lemelson has made a generous gift to establish The Study of Black Life and Racial Inequality Program Fund that will provide critical support for graduate and undergraduate students who share a commitment to the study of Black Life and Racial Inequality in Anthropology.

As part of Anthropology’s commitment to ensure ongoing financial support for transformative positive social change, as well as provide much-needed material support for students engaged with these issues, Professor Lemelson’s gift will pave the way for more sustainable future support from alumni and friends who share Anthropology’s vision of impactful research and social justice.

To build on this vision, the Department of Anthropology is excited to support a student-initiated group focused on academic engagement, mentorship, and the professional development of Black graduate students in Anthropology. The Department will also offer a new mentoring course for diverse undergraduates led by the student group to be inaugurated in the Winter of 2021. Undergraduates in the course who are also interested in pursuing independent research will be encouraged to apply to the Department’s prestigious undergraduate Lemelson Anthropological Honors Program to further develop their research and professional careers.

The Department of Anthropology is deeply grateful to Professor Lemelson for his support of this vision and his generous gift, which will ensure the program’s success in years to come.

We invite the community to join us in this important initiative to support the study of Black Life and racial inequality by making an online gift HERE. If you are interested in making a gift by check, please contact Lisa Mohan at lmohan@support.ucla.edu. We appreciate your support of this important program.

 

Photographer: Madelene Cronjé

Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, UCLA Professor of African American Studies and Distinguished Professor of History & Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History, was recently interviewed for Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill. In the podcast episode, Dr. Kelley provides historical context for the current abolitionist movement by discussing numerous key moments and issues, including the Tulsa race massacre, criminalization of community, racial capitalism, a third Reconstruction era, and social justice movements. To listen to the full interview and to read the transcript, click HERE.

For the newly launched magazine, NOEMA, Dr. Safiya Noble wrote an essay that calls out the titans of technology, and challenges us all to look at the societal needs of this pivotal moment. As calls for abolition and racial justice echo from coast to coast, Dr. Noble informs us how “Big Tech is implicated in displacing high-quality knowledge institutions–newsrooms, libraries, schools, and universities–by destabilizing funding through tax evasion, actively eroding the public goods we need to flourish.” She also writes:

“We need new paradigms, not more new tech. We need fair and equitable implementations of public policy that bolster our collective good. We need to center the most vulnerable among us–the working poor and the disabled, those who live under racial and religious tyranny, the discriminated against and the oppressed. We need to house people and provide health, employment, creative arts, and educational resources. We need to close the intersectional racial wealth gap.”

Dr. Noble is an Associate Professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, co-director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, and a faculty advisor to the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute.

To read the complete essay, “The Loss Of Public Goods To Big Tech,” click HERE.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Darren Ornitz

The brutal, in-your-face murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police was just the latest in a long succession of Black killings captured on video. Following closely on the heels of the shooting death of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery by white, self-professed vigilantes in Georgia, and the killing of Breonna Taylor in her own home by Louisville police, Floyd’s murder revealed, yet again, the precarity of Black life in America. But this time, in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, Americans of all races took to the streets, risking their own health, to demand the overhauling of police practices and to insist that Black lives do matter.

I stand with protesters who say that enough is enough with respect to police brutality. As a sociologist, I understand that protestors’ call for social justice is about much more than just the most recent killings. These killings are symptoms of an underlying American disease: a virulent structural racism originating from, and still spread by, the nation’s longstanding affair with white supremacy. Protestors have rightly seized the present moment as one of those temporal inflection points that have the potential to shape American life for years to come. We all have been summoned to stand on the right side of history, to accompany our words of support with the actions necessary for substantive change.

We take this call very seriously in the social sciences. Below I include statements from units all across our Division that outline their commitments to being a part of the solution, as opposed to a part of the problem.

Darnell Hunt, Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA

Click on the links below to read the statements:

 

LA Social Science interviewed Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Students and Founder of the Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA. Dr. Noguera discusses the center’s work on shining a spotlight on students experiencing homelessness in California. To learn more about this important issue, check out his center’s interactive map “We See You: Shining a Spotlight on Students Experiencing Homelessness in California” HERE.

 

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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.

Six new UCLA ladder faculty members were presented with the inaugural Chancellor’s Award for Community-Engaged Scholars, supported by both the Chancellor’s Office and the UCLA Center for Community Learning, for the 2019-2020 academic year. Each recipient will receive $10,000 towards supporting their own community-engaged research and design to implement in an undergraduate course. For the purposes of this award, “Community-engaged research, in this context, encompasses research and creative work across all fields that address an agenda of social justice and create reciprocal value with community partners. At its best, community-engaged research both achieves high levels of scholarly recognition within a field and advances efforts to redress social inequalities” (UCLA Internal Funding Opportunities). This is a strong cohort who meets the community-engaged research standards and whose work will be a major contribution to academic scholarship.

This well-deserved honor calls for celebration and congratulations to all the awardees, but especially to the three faculty members from our Division, Drs. Maylei Blackwell, Marissa Lopez, and Meredith Phillips. Below is a list of all the recipients, their department, and a short description of their community-engaged research project.

  • Maylei Blackwell, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies. In her course, Blackwell plans to use community archives and oral histories to map the Latin American indigenous diaspora in Los Angeles.
  • Arleen Brown, professor of medicine. In Brown’s course, students will work with community organizations and academic faculty to reduce chronic disease disparities in Los Angeles County through community-engaged collaborative projects.
  • Jenny Jay, professor of civil and environmental engineering. Jay’s course will center around environmental research that engages community members.
  • Marissa Lopez, associate professor of English and Chicana and Chicano studies. In Lopez’s course, students will partner with the Los Angeles Public Library to build a geolocation smartphone app that displays historical images of Mexican Los Angeles.
  • Rashmita Mistry, professor of education, and Karen Quartz, director, UCLA Center for Community Schooling. Their course will have students delve into educational research methodological approaches using an equity and social justice lens.
  • Meredith Phillips, associate professor, public policy and sociology. Phillips’ course will have students use student and staff survey data to improve K-12 education.

For more information, read the UCLA Newsroom story HERE.