The State from Below: Urban Citizenship in Policed Communities

The State from Below: Urban Citizenship in Policed Communities


Good afternoon, everybody. I’m Ed Steinfeld. I’m the Director of The Watson
Institute for International and Public Affairs. It’s great to see you all– some
old friends, some new friends. Some of you have come from very
far away, some from very near. But I’m so delighted
to see all of you and to welcome you to the
beginning of our conference on city, citizenship,
and governance. Many of the issues we’ll be
talking about are not new– issues about how citizens
access or don’t access rights, how citizens access
or don’t quite access services and goods,
how citizens access, or can access, certain
kinds of spaces. They’re not new issues. However, I’d argue, and
I think many of us– and I’ve learned from many of
the papers you’ve written– that the issues have new
and tremendous urgency, partly because of the rates
of urbanization in many parts of the world, partly due to
challenges like climate change and what that’s doing
to urban spaces, partly due to challenges
surrounding displacement for a variety of reasons–
the movement of people– and partly due to the
nature of our times– ethnonationalism and populism. All of these things
and many more make the issues that
we’ll be talking about in the conference, I would
argue, more urgent than ever. But there’s just one other
point I want to raise. This conference represents
an effort on The Watson Institute’s part to work
deeply with a series of global partners and to develop
real partnerships– partnerships of equality,
partnerships where we primarily are learning from you
all over, we hope, extended periods of time,
and periods of time that will involve empirical
research and theorizing, and perhaps most important–
truly comparative research– truly comparative, and truly
globally comparative research. I’m really excited and
optimistic about this endeavor. I especially want to thank Susan
Moffitt, and Patrick Heller, and Dan Smith for really
taking the lead on this effort. I’ll have other chances
to speak later on, but again, I want
to welcome you all and turn it over
to Susan Moffitt. Thanks. So welcome, everyone, and
welcome to our conversation on “The State From Below– Urban Citizenship in
Policed Communities,” with Vesla Weaver, who is
the Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of
Political Science and Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. We’re so glad to have
Professor Weaver join us for our conversation– our interdisciplinary
conversation– on cities, citizenship, and governance
in the 21st century– a conversation that will span
global spaces, a conversation that will span perspectives on
the structures and institutions and political processes through
which cities incorporate and exclude citizens
and aspiring citizens, a conversation that we
hope will ultimately wrestle with the
question of where do we go from here as a community
of scholars and practitioners working in this important and
evolving and contested space? So this is a conversation
that began organically across the centers,
initiatives, and programs here at The Watson Institute. And we found that cities,
citizenship, and governance raises common questions
across our centers, and common commitments. And we seek to build on
that common foundation, but yet advance research
and practice and policy at the intersection by
building on and leveraging our different perspectives. And so we’re delighted to
have Professor Weaver– and all of you– join us for the launching
of that conversation today. So Professor Weaver’s
work focuses primarily on the US context,
but speaks broadly to important issues of cities,
citizenship, and governance. Her expertise and
her scholarship has made significant
contributions to ongoing debates
over the persistence of racial inequality,
and the consequences of economic polarization. Some of her scholarship
has demonstrated how punishment and
surveillance have been core components of American
citizenship in the modern era, how they have contributed to
the expansion of the US state, how they form some of the
primary means through which mostly disadvantaged citizens
come into contact and interact with government. And she also demonstrates
how they work as a vehicle– a political vehicle–
for making an end run around civil
rights advances. Among her many
awards and honors, her book, Arresting Citizenship,
co-authored with Amy Lerman, was awarded the Dennis Judd Best
Book on Urban Politics Award. Her book A New Racial
Order, co-authored with Jennifer Hochschild
and Traci Burch, was named a Choice Outstanding
Academic Title for 2012. She has been a Fellow with the
Andrew Carnegie Foundation, and also a Presidential
Fellow with the Russell Sage Foundation. And Professor Weaver not only
engages in important research, but she embeds her research
in communities of practice. And to that end, she has served
on the Harvard University and National Institute of
Justice’s Executive Session on Community Corrections, the
American Political Science Association’s Presidential
Task Force on Racial Inequality in the Americas, and the Center
for Community Change’s Good Jobs For All Initiative. We’re delighted to have her
here to talk with us about some of her current research that
uses the Portals Project that draws on over 800 conversations
among individuals on policing in highly-policed
communities, and what that tells us about
democracy and citizenship. So our time together will
unfold in the following way. Professor Weaver will
begin about 45 minutes of conversation with
us, and then I’ll launch with a few questions
when she finishes, and then we will open up
the floor to your questions. We very much look forward
to your questions. And then we’ll continue
the conversation out in the main foyer of
The Watson Institute. Just a reminder– our
conversation today will be recorded, and
that includes the question and answer period. Now, will you please join me in
very warmly welcoming Professor Vesla Weaver. [APPLAUSE] It’s wonderful to be
here, and thank you to Susan Moffitt for
organizing this, and to Ed, and everyone at The Watson
Institute for bringing me back. I first gave a little
snippet of what I will present to you
today about a year ago in, I think upstairs. And it’s come some
ways since then, so thank you for being
here and for helping me start this research journey. Thank you also to Sam
Griffin, who really navigated the logistics of
setting all of this up, from my late-night email last
night when I was in urgent care thinking that I
had a stomach bug– I’m fine. It was some food poisoning. But thank you to her for
putting all of this into motion. In Newark, New Jersey,
a young American testified to a perfect stranger. He gripped a paper
bag in one hand, with six large numbers
on it, and that bag contained the items
that he had on him as his government put him into
a cell at the Essex County Jail. He was on his way
home that day when he said, “we’re being locked
up and held at a ransom. I call that a ransom,
not a bail, because this is a system that’s created
for the rich to get richer. You understand what I’m saying? We’re not the rich. I feel as though that
system is created why? To generate more money
for, for commissaries, for my family to spend more
money on commissary food and other families for other
inmates who are in there. I have a four-year-old son. I don’t wish to spend my
money on commissaries. I don’t wish to pay lawyers
fees, and court fees, and pawns, and things like that. No, I want to give
this money to my son. The summertime is coming,
and my son loves nature, so you know what I thought
about while I was in that cell? Was doing more things that
involve nature with him– taking him to the zoo,
taking him to the park, taking him to the beach. That’s where I wish
to put my money at, not back into this
injustice system.” 909 miles away, in
a park in Milwaukee, stood another man
20 years his senior, but distance was no matter. That man stood right
in front of him with the illusion of being
in the same room, connected by a digital wormhole. He responded with assurance. “Yo, your voice is supported,
bro,” and explained his wish that prosecutors walk
a day in their shoes, since they don’t know what it’s
like to live on the other side, and they in charge of our fate. While he was a stranger, he was
not unknown to the young man. They each stood inside
a chamber like this that we had repurposed from a
container meant to ship goods to a container of ideas– meant to ship our
thoughts, meant to collaborate, and connect
us, and constellate among one another. Not unlike the young man’s
cell in the county jail, the space inside was
small and contained. But instead of
isolation from others, this dark room was designed
to connect and amplify the testimony of America’s
fourth-largest city– wards of the state. We call it a Portal. After the pair of men
left the box that day, a young woman entered. She spoke to a mother,
this time in Chicago. And over the course of
the next year and a half, 2,000 others exchanged
stories, homespun lyrics, bore witness to one another,
and shared freedom dreams inside these virtual chambers. My colleague, Tracey Meares, at
Yale Law School, Gwen Prowse, our doctoral student,
and I paired up with artist and tech
entrepreneur Amar Bakshi, who had first
designed this gold experiment in his backyard,
to locate Portals in 11 neighborhoods in five
cities across the United States and one in Mexico City. Our collaboration springs
from a novel partnering of a new technological
and public infrastructure with research. We sensed the power
of this combination to transform both what we know,
and how we go about knowing it. With the help of curators,
we amassed a rich archive of narrative experiences between
people who would not otherwise encounter one another. Their testimonies come during
a time when scholars bemoaned the decline of public things– the erosion of civic life, the
emergence of civic deserts– when footage of black men
being felled by police– like in my city,
Baltimore, where Freddie Gray’s spinal cord
was severed from a rough ride in a police van– that set off a black spring
that swept the United States and ignited black and brown
communities to rehearse their ancestors’
pleas to say her name, Black Lives Matter, and
no justice, no peace, when municipalities
like Ferguson were engaged in predatory
wealth extraction, generating enough money
from fines and fees to support one fifth of
the municipal budget. How do people like the young
person in Newark and his older interlocutor
experience government? How is the power of state
agents resisted or deployed? How do most characterize
both the nature of their citizenship, and
the logic of the state? What discourses and
ideologies do they draw on to make sense
of their interactions with street-level bureaucrats? And do they redefine
and contest and reframe mainstream conceptions
of American democracy? And how do they
imagine liberation? We don’t know. I come to you from
a field that studies state power, citizenship,
governance, and democracy, and we have surprisingly
few theories and concepts to help us answer
these questions. From a field framed by images
of representative democracy and T.H. Marshall’s
conception of citizenship were debates about what
drives people’s preferences, and interests dominate,
taking non-domination by the state as a
baseline assumption. From a field that is
ever-more concerned about the rise of
inequality but seems to forget that inequality
isn’t in the main about what resources you command
or not, but about how the government treats you. From a field that
relies on methods that shrink our view
of political life to appreciations of whether
voting is more or less likely controlling for such
and such, rather than the keen political vocabularies
emerging from communities that see police as a legalized gang. Over the decades, we have
learned next to nothing about the political lives of
highly-policed communities from orthodox methods– in part because survey
research rarely went into these
communities or sampled in prisons and jails and halfway
houses and prerelease centers, leading to underestimates
of social disadvantage, as Becky Pettit has
shown, and in part because asking someone
whether they strongly agree, somewhat agree, neither
agree, or disagree with this or that police practice
does little to shed light on the actual lived experience
of the state and government authority in these places. And in so doing,
we have relegated people who the state has visited
its most awesome use of state power to a class to
which we do not listen. Today I’m going to
discuss discourses from the most
extensive collection of firsthand accounts
of the police by those who are
policed to-date. My argument is both
substantive and methodological. Methodologically,
I’m going to argue that a people’s history offers
the most complex accounting of American policing. But not just that. Subjugated knowledge
offers a vital accounting of the American state and
the democratic condition in our time. Understanding and theorizing
government, state action, and state power requires
examining its operation in real communities. By listening to how the
broader community conceive of the democratic state’s
practices and its relation to citizens– not by focusing on what these
institutions are meant to do and their formal
representative structures, but what they actually
do do in communities and through the institutions
that command the most authority in their lives– we can arrive at
uncommon insights into the actual practice of
democracy and citizenship as it is actually structured,
and how communities in turn relate to the state and
their political behavior, and choose courses of action. Our aim is to represent
democratic governance in our time through mapping
citizens’ experiences with, views of, and responses
to the state– how they judge the
responsiveness of authorities, and their experience-informed
critiques of democracy and how they imagine freedom. As we will see, they inform
us of alternative realities to formal law, governance,
and bureaucratic relations based on extensive
local understandings of the state and its practices. It shifts the boundaries
of what we think of as democracy’s main limits. Now, we are, of
course, not the first to argue that subjugated
knowledge is special knowledge and that it should form
the basis of our analysis of democratic life. Foucault, bell hooks, Jim Scott,
David Graeber’s idea that, quote, “within
relations of domination, it is generally subordinates
who are effectively relegated the work
of understanding how the social relations
in question really work.” But this has not been a central
mode of studying political life in my subfield. To arrive at strong
descriptive inference, it is necessary to disrupt
traditional research methods and seek out deliberation
between key informants. When we employ a
listening framework, we will see disagreement,
reflection, comedy, longing, advice-giving, call and
response, determination, high-level reasoning,
and collective wisdom, and complex policy ideas. And third, civically– by
introducing a public and social and civic infrastructure, we
think we are addressing both democratic problems– surveillance being one
of the only public things left, in the words
of Bonnie Honig, and the absence of spaces to
constantly and deliberate. Democracy is reduced,
in her words, to polling procedures
and policing. Portals creates connected
political spaces out of disconnection. By introducing this public
and civic infrastructure, we are not only studying
democratic deliberation. We are facilitating it. Substantively, I’m going
to argue that we misspecify the structure and experience
of the American state, and we occlude how race-class
subjugated communities experience government. Democracy is predicated
on political equality– on the notion of an equal
distance of government from citizens. The democratic ideal, as
Robert Dahl enunciated, was for continued
responsiveness of the government to the preferences of
its citizens considered as political equals. The state must give equal
weight to citizens’ views. Now, the way we
study democratic life reflects this conception
of the democratic ideal and constantly
refers back to it. Let me show you what I mean. Most of the literature
on our democracy is operating along
one dimension– attention or inattention–
because classically liberal arrangements are assumed. Questions of equal
participation– a goal for half of the century– gave way to questions
of equal influence. Policy is the prize, and
inclusion in state operations is the goal. One of the biggest
findings in this literature is that rising
inequality has translated into a government
skewed to the rich, that the preferences of
the poor and middle class rarely get translated
into policy outcomes– a decided step toward oligarchy. You can hardly round a
corner in our discipline without coming across
permutations on that argument. Now, scholars of American
political development have been better at
recognizing that the state is more than just whether it
registers citizens’ preferences or not. They tell us that
the American state is submerged, weak, fragmented,
private, delegated– most of all, weak. The state is generally
beneficent, if aloof. Thus, the most pressing threat
to democracy is that many citizens don’t have their
policy preferences registered in policy outcomes–
the Bartels story– or that government does
a bunch of good stuff, but citizens really
don’t get to see it– the Suzanne Mettler story– or even that some
groups in politics are more powerful than
others, so they get what they want more of the time– the Jacob Hacker story. More connection to government
is always better than less. Alienation comes
from not being heard. Democratic inequality
is the mere absence of equal responsiveness. This prominent storyline
is mostly right if race-class subjugated
communities are outside your field of vision. It may well describe what
white Americans experience of government. But recognize that preference
responsiveness questions about democracy’s health were
housed within a polity that was increasingly turning to,
deepening its commitment to, and expanding its second face,
by which I mean coercion, containment, surveillance,
regulation, predation, and discipline– high levels of state
control alongside formal political freedom,
as Rousseau famously said, “being born free,
but everywhere in chains.” The liberal democratic
model, I argued in an article with Joe Soss two years ago,
is a highly salutary vision of the American state, and one
that comes under great strain once we look to the bottom– to race-class
subjugated communities– where involvement
with government is not the unalloyed good
supposed by liberal framings. As we argued– if one’s aim
is to understand state powers to govern citizens,
regulate their behaviors, revoke their freedoms,
redefine their civic standing, and impose violence
on them, we need to abandon our scholarly
preoccupation with imagining government as a
system that registers preferences and distributes
uplifting material benefits, and augment analyses of
the state’s first face with its second face. Move beyond this basic reading
of first state activity as policy responsiveness
to its actual treatment through its second face, and two
more quadrants come into view. In a condition of low first
face government attention, the state is not registering
your preferences and neglectful of your material needs, and
high second face interventions, we get an institutional
arrangement of distorted responsiveness. The state both withholds
protection, and aggressively intervenes. It constructs subjects,
not principles. And in this condition,
navigating the state requires extensive political
knowledge and labor. Thus, discourses of
access and representation and responsiveness– we need more votes,
more representatives, more policy that is helpful
to us, greater provision! Is something we
might very well see as key pivots in conversations
in quadrants 1 and 2. But in quadrant 3,
political responses turn inward, away
from the state, and people demand not
responsiveness to preferences, but recognition– to be known. And this will become
clear as I go. By ignoring this dimension
of state activity, we create and
continually reinforce a lopsided scholarly imagination
of American government and its deficits, and a
lopsided methodological approach is both cause and consequence. Because the way we study
democratic life fixates on Dahlian first
face conceptions, state action is reduced
to only its representative institutions, because those
are the ones that do or do not register the people’s will. Dependent variables
become those that are political acts of
voting, and calling one’s representatives,
and specific behaviors narrowly defined as political– because those are the key
instruments of democratic power in first face arrangements. In other words, deviations
exist within a narrow boundary where the key reference
point is the ideal itself. “How much are your priorities
reflected in policy outcomes?” becomes singular in importance. The second face, a lot
of recent work outside of political science
has shown, is productive of
race-class positions. I will show it also constructs
political knowledge, political standing, and
political responses. Today I will illuminate
this third quadrant. I’m going to discuss four
ideational currents that emerged from the
collective narratives that challenge first
face liberal framings. They characterize their
relationship to government as one marked by
distorted responsiveness. Their main grievance
is that they are not known by the state, and
they are misconstrued. They inhabit two
distinct constitutions– the formal dictates on the
book, and the real rules that they needed to
know to stay alive. And their political
responses focus on what Michael Hanchard has
called an ethics of aversion– a turn away from the
state, combined with a need to stick together in collective
responsibility and autonomy. Now, these, I would offer,
are core frameworks. We’ve got 14,000
pages of transcripts. I can’t tell you how
much disagreement there is, how many different attitudes
there are in these documents. But these are the kind of
umbrella concepts, the guiding frameworks, that operated above
the various particular policy solutions that people offered. They espouse very different
political attitudes and political outlooks–
from assimilationist, community control,
understandings of the source of crime,
and they had, even, very different responses. They spanned the relatively
well-off in our sample, to those that were less so. But without pressing for too
much of a central tendency or unifying concept or
diminishing their complexity, these are four frameworks
that we found really governed what was happening
in the conversations. So let me explain how
Portals works, because these are pretty much unlike any
kind of social science method to-date. Gold shipping containers
with immersive audio visual technology are placed in
areas with high foot traffic and community partners
who see it as a benefit. Amar already had an extensive
Portal global network operating on every continent
except Antarctica in 48 sites across 15 countries. 150,000 conversations
were happening every year. They took place everywhere
from Erbil, Iraq to Herat, Afghanistan, to
Berlin, and Mumbai, and Seoul. He had them in refugee camps
outside a prison in an IBB camp, at NGOs, and in
museums, and universities. You can place them anywhere
that has a link to power. When a person comes
inside, they are connected by life-sized–
can people see this? Do we need to dim
the lights a bit? Yeah, that might be better. This is our Portal
in Mexico City. When a person comes
inside, they’re connected by life-sized
video to another person in a paired city in an identical
gold shipping container that they don’t know. We ask nothing else of
them but to briefly tell us about themselves and their
policing interactions. Then participants engage in
a 20-minute conversation– about a 20-minute
conversation– unscripted, with someone else
in a paired city. Their conversation
is not moderated by us, the researcher. Instead, Portals
participants are prompted to talk
about policing– whatever that means to them. Here you see our curators,
Divad and Lewis Lee, talking to each other. And after they leave, they
jot down their thoughts in the gold book, which
you see excerpts from here. Each of the Portals
dialogues is video recorded and later transcribed– and sometimes translated
from Spanish– and I’ll be drawing on a subset
of those conversations today. A key player is the curator,
who really brings the Portal to life in the local context
and the local community. He or she holds events,
works with other curators in the global network to
have pop-up initiatives for the benefit of and
designed by the community. The Portal is a space
for art and performance. It’s a space for chess
tournaments, poetry slams. They’re making a rap
album out of 15 countries. They had a mobile barber shop. They had a vocational
school at one point. They do yoga together. They do shared meals together. Really, whatever– they
do town halls together. Portals are used as
a gathering spot. So I’ll just give you a few– I’m sorry this isn’t
coming up so clearly– a few examples of things
that local curators and local communities
use the Portals for. Oh, that’s very dark– but that’s OK. They have global dialogues when
they’re not doing our research. This is in Baltimore. This was a town
hall between police and the community between
Newark and Milwaukee. It did not go well. This is in Los Angeles. At one point, the
Portal was vandalized, and so the community decided
to do a communal mural on the outside of the Portal– to represent let
me just show you what it looked like in the end– to represent what gentrification
was bringing to Los Angeles. It’s a place for student groups
to connect with other student groups globally. And finally, it’s just a place
to hang out on hot summer days. Now we could probably
bring the lights back up. Thank you. We placed the Portals
in 11 neighborhoods. So here, I’ll show you
the five different cities. This isn’t all the
neighborhoods that we had. Milwaukee, Chicago in
the center, Newark– we didn’t place that police
car there, on the far left– Lexington Market in Baltimore. We also had it in the Ynot Lot
next Red Emma’s, Mexico City, and this was our Portal in
Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. We located the Portals
broadly in communities experiencing pervasive
policing interactions. Almost half of our
participants had reported being stopped
over seven times by police in their
lives, and many– almost half– of black
men reported being stopped in Milwaukee in the
last week or month– so very, very high rates
of police-citizen contact. But they also captured a
broad swath of America. They stretch across very
distinct policing regimes– from one reformist regime
after high-profile scandals, to one in the midst
of federal oversight after it planted toy
guns on citizens, and to Milwaukee,
who most recently had tased the body of football
player Sterling Brown. And within cities,
we moved the Portal to different neighborhoods, with
very different local histories, police presence, and
social relations. For example, a Portal could
be eliciting conversations between an upwardly-mobile,
working-class Latino student population at CSU
Dominguez Hills, founded after the Watts
riot, to the Amani neighborhood in Milwaukee,
the most impoverished and distressed in that city. The 53206 zip code,
which contains Amani, has the highest share of
incarcerated black men in America. By age 30 to 34,
only 38% of them have not spent time in
a correctional facility. But another Portal sat in
an equally impoverished site that’s activated. The most recent Portal was in
the #LetUsBreathe Collective Portal site in Chicago,
founded after unrest around the infamous
Homan Square black site, where police were literally
disappearing citizens. Around a single Portal, there’s
also dynamism and variation. A Portal will draw in
second-generation immigrants, former gang members, budding
activists, college students, working-class people on their
way to work, sex workers. A site may be near a bus
stop, an open-air drug market, a housing project or halfway
house, a homeless encampment, and a workers co-op. It might draw in police
officers, as well as ex inmates on ankle monitors. The Los Angeles
library, that has highly-educated
people coming into it, as well as the nearby Skid
Row population of 34,000 unhoused people. Also in LA, the Mercado la
Paloma site draws in USC’s IT department, families trying
their hand at the food business, as well
as ex-inmates– because of the
nearby halfway house. And the dyadic
nature of the Portals also invites another
source of variation– that of participant
pairings themselves, which span generations, race
and class position, and gender. Conversations between Chicago
and Los Angeles, for example, could be between
two young Latinas, between a working-class
black man and a retiree, or a number of
other combinations. Portals also captures not just
differences in city spaces, but in the same
neighborhood over time. So we capture narratives around
policing and mobilization before, during, and
after police fatally killed Sylville
Smith in Milwaukee, and the unrest that comes in
the Sherman Park neighborhood. We have the Portal before,
during, and after the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force case. So we’re able to trace
dialogues across time as well. So the Portals project
encompasses different contexts, different people
within these contexts, and even different moments and
markers within those contexts. So just for an example,
a Milwaukee man enters the Portal
chamber in Milwaukee. He may be connected
to one of five sites, or one of five cities. Even within a city, he might
be connected to the site that we had near a local
community thrift store, or the #LetUsBreathe site. He could connect to a
site in the South Side similar to his own neighborhood,
or a neighborhood quite unlike his own near
Little Village. Depending on when he
entered the Portal, he may be talking to someone
before, in the midst of, or after his own
neighborhood experienced the police killing of Smith. Who he is connected
to also varies. And participants may have
similar levels of police experience, or divergent. They may hold very
similar or opposed views about police crime and
collective strategies. I’m going to skip very
quickly through this, but if you’re interested in
thinking about how the Portal’s method is different from
focus groups or ethnography or communication strategies or
typical interviewing or case study, I’d be happy
to talk about that. But several aspects– and
this is on our website– we think disinhibit
the audience, and really enable deliberation. Just to– and I’m going to fly
through these very quickly, because I want to
get to the material– just to give you a
sense of who came in– and of course, this is
not a random sample, and I can expose my frustration
to that question in Q&A. It’s a purposive sample. But you’ll see we mainly had
a very young population coming into the Portal. This varies a
little bit by city. Let me give you a sense of
how often people reported being stopped by police. This bimodal distribution
will make sense to you in a slide or two. You’ll see that there’s quite
a lot of variation on how much people reported trusting police. And remember, because these
are dyadic you can get somebody in the box who says that they
always trust police conversing with somebody who says they
never trust the police. And we have quite
a few conversations where people disagree, and
it’s really interesting to watch how people
navigate that and how people find their way
towards a place of building. And this one will
show you Milwaukee will stand out immediately. The share of people who had some
police contact in the last week or month is quite high. But there’s variation
across the cities. This one really stopped me
in my tracks when I saw it, and we have since done a
little bit of investigation with other random and
representative survey samples that show, basically,
this same pattern. Among those who have
been stopped by police, the majority had
their first encounter before the tender age of 14– the majority. And we see this in
the dialogues as well. One of the first things
that comes out– normally a conversation begins
at that very moment, where somebody will recount
what their baptism moment was with police. “I’ve been having problems
with them since I was 12. I will remember this day,
because it was my first police interaction. They ran past us, and the
police just came up, and just grabbed up me and my cousin. We like, we not with them. We don’t even know them. And I remember this
officer– and she names him– he a real big dude. Like, I was scared as shit. I was 12 years old. I thought I was gon’ die.” “The first time police stopped
me–” this is in Baltimore– “I was 11 years old,
and they stopped me because I was playing water
balloon fights with my friends during the summer. And they handcuffed all of us. They paraded us in
front of the community. They had the helicopter
on us, and this was, like, a group of 11-year-olds. Like, nobody was older than 13,
and, like, they had guns on us. They pointed a gun to my head,
and they threatened our lives.” He goes on to talk about how,
in the eyes of his community, he was never the same. That group was
regarded as criminals. “At a young age, like 12 years
old, I experienced the police. They come into my house. They looking for one
person, but they still feel the need to put a gun
to the head of a 12-year-old. And I’m like, that’s my
first time seeing a gun. And it’s like, wow, this
is what I’m exposed to. Like, just predetermined
by who knows what? But not me being a young
person, because I just hit 19, and I just finished
high school, and I’m trying my best to be a positive
influence on my community and really do something big.” “When I was about
14 and 13, I always been a full-figured
girl, the police would stop me when I was
walking outside with my friends at night. Are you a prostitute? Ask me questions like that. I’m a 13-year-old
girl at the time.” “Eight years old
was my first time getting pulled over, nigga
for, you know what I’m saying, like walking with a group
of other little niggas. We was out in the hood, like,
playing around with sticks, and we was all wearing
the same colors and shit, and you know what I’m saying? Just to match each other,
because we was all friends type shit. But what they put that on? We gangbanging. They just called us Vice Lords. We wasn’t doing that shit.” And he recounts being locked
up when he was eight years old. “I was in second grade,
and after that, bro, I was like 10, 11, 12, 13. Each one of those years,
the police called me. They used to pick me
up and drop me off on the other side
of the tracks.” Just to show you this
briefly, remember that the rates of encounters
in the bimodal distribution. This also was very
surprising to me. Maybe it shouldn’t have been. These are people–
men and women– in the very same communities. And you see that they’re
mirror images of each other. So the men– over half
report over seven encounters. And among the
women, there’s still a pretty large share that
don’t have any police contact. And this comes out
in interesting ways. We have coded up anytime
somebody talks about gender, anytime somebody talks
about being a man or being a woman and what it’s
like to have police contact. And the women often say
things like, well, we have to protect the men. If a man comes up and says,
hey, walk with me for a second, the police are over there,
we’ll do that for them. And oftentimes, the men recount
like, yeah, if you’re a woman, you’ll be able to
move through the city. But for us, we really
need to watch how we move. We can come back to this. It’s just to give you
a sense of there really was variation in who– who you’re paired with
is quite random, right? We don’t know who’s going
to enter on this side and who’s going to
enter on this side. And oftentimes, we have people
who repeat the experience. So you will see their
discourse with somebody who has an experience like
them, and somebody who has a very different experience. This is just to
show you that– this is conversational dyads
where both participants have a high rate of police contact. We coded up the
transcripts using Dedoose, which allows us to qualitatively
code each conversation and to pare the survey data to
the conversation-level coding. So I can tell you precisely
what themes animate the conversations when a pair
of middle-aged mothers converse, or what discursive
patterns appear when people at different
levels of police contact are in the box, or what is
revealed in disagreement, or how one type of
response links to another. But today I’m not
going to do that. What we are not doing– we could use the Portals to
discover policing tactics, to be sure. We learn, for example, that
the police in Milwaukee like to throw up the
hood of their cars to cover the dash cam,
or that gun bearing is pretty prevalent among
Chicago participants. But we approach the data not
to test a specific hypothesis, but to locate what Cathy
Cohen and others have called an oppositional
ideology– the frameworks that marginal groups
use to interpret their political world, and
to assess their positioning, and to craft
political responses. Our project is to identify a
coherent lens through which race-class subjugated
communities interpret their political world, and to
discover how they structure ideas of power, how
they theorize democracy, how they attach subjective
meaning to the same events. So instead of asking people
whether they think police are fair or whether they trust the
police all the time, sometimes, or never– what a
survey might ask– instead we ask,
how do they define the limits of the permissible
of police and government and residents? Instead of asking, does having
a police encounter cause a particular
attitude to develop, or a particular behavior– as those analyzing surveys
might do, with some difficulty– we instead listen to hear
their causal story of the state in their communities. And instead of trying to
measure mere mentions of topics or distributions of
anti-police attitudes, we seek to explore
how people are reasoning through their
experiences, the ways they frame and don’t frame
problems with security from violence. And by doing all of this, we
can locate the various strands of political discourse
and beliefs structured by personal and communal
experience with the state. We’re also following
Cathy Cohen– I mean, sorry, Kathy
Cramer’s political ethnography and active
listening investigations. And I just love this quote. OK, let me move on. It scarcely needs saying that
Portals participants describe encounters that lead
to violence and state humiliation and disrespect. But in our explorations,
it was striking to us how often democratic inclusion– more votes, more
representation, more voice– was neither lexically present,
nor an overarching framework. They did not invoke
democratic concepts or recourse the idea
that the state was meant to reflect their community. Instead, the thrust
of their complaint is misrecognition by the state. This was paramount. State authorities are
intimately involved in my life, but don’t know me,
and the character of their knowledge about me
is misaligned with who I am and who my community is. The state is blind
to my struggles. We are visible, but
anonymous– hypervisible, even. I’m not seen in my full
truth, even while I’m exceptionally visible. Aspects of myself are
negated or flattened by how the state
interacts with me, and my identity as a
potential suspect is fixed, and I’m approached with
a pre-defined script. Specifically, the state
is incapable of seeing me as a victim, father, human,
citizen worthy of respect. Parents discussed how
kids had no wiggle room to find out what type
of person they are, and so kid-related acts,
like the water balloon fights and the wearing the
colors, becomes suspicious. My inwardly-generated
idea of myself conflicts with how
the state externally imposes its image of me, and I
have no power to define myself. I don’t have different tastes
or desires or opinions. Now, state intimacy
here does not generate connection or knowing. This is what political
science assumes. The more the state knows
your preferences and heeds them means
higher-quality democracy. But here, more fundamental
than preferences is to be seen. In the conversation,
this recognition premise operated at two levels– as both a political desire,
a necessary condition on the way to being regarded– I need to be known in a more
fulsome way, not reduced– and what the nature
of the violation was. If I’m unknown, what
is the state’s capacity for intervening in
reasonable ways in my life? It operated across
multiple venues. The media parades us losing,
and that’s not who we are. And it constructed their
response– which we’ll see. And in contrast to
the state’s inability to see me as a distinct
citizen, Portals conversations show that they had to make
very fine-grained distinctions of police. What does it mean
to be recognized? The state authorities need
to chop it up with us, have a presumption of my
value, not my suspiciousness. Now, this may remind you of
political theorist Charles Taylor’s seminal
work on recognition. But for Taylor,
recognition is important because it forges identity. Liberal states are at risk
of homogenizing difference through universalizing
principles. To be difference blind is to
not give distinct cultures equal status and
presumption of worth. We mean something else. This is not the purpose of
recognition for Portals. I’m misrecognized by how the
state deals with my person and community, not a
passive recognition of my cultural identity. Let me show you a few examples. One person says, “But you’ve
got to think about it, man. These police officers come
in from suburb areas where they rarely see black people,
and then they’re not only seeing black people, they seeing
the stereotyped black person– you know, in the hood;
you know, street niggas. You know, they
seeing the gutter. First of all, they
fucking terrified. They terrified, really. They can put that badge
on, put that suit on. They got to have a
face to where they got to make it seem like
they not, but in reality, I know they is terrified. I’m terrified,
sometimes, walking through these damn
neighborhoods. So these damned police officers
come in from all other type of places and pulling up,
telling us what to do, how to do it, and where,
because a lot of people– and he goes on, and notice
the transition here– because a lot of people get
the wrong idea about police. Like you said, there is good
police officers out here, as well as teachers. I don’t feel like
a person who don’t come from this area, who
don’t come from, especially, the ghetto– I don’t think they should
be policing and teaching, because they don’t
understand us. There’s things about us
they don’t understand, and they could never
understand, because they haven’t been through
what we’ve been through. They haven’t seen
what we’ve seen. Most black people– they uncles
and cousins and best friends is drug dealers. The killer– you know that
my uncle is a drug dealer? It’s like damn near ain’t no
way I can’t see this shit. They don’t understand that. They think, OK, it’s a choice. You had a choice to do this. You had a choice to do that. They think it comes
down to simple shit, when you know it’s more
complex than they really know. And instead of busting
everybody down ASAP, I think they should get
to know the niggas that’s always on the block. I think they should get out
they car, smoke a square, chop it up. Talk to everybody. Get to know people. You in this neighborhood.” Notice, in the
conversation, he’s capable of making
fine-grained distinctions about individual officers. There’s good officers. But the institution as a
whole doesn’t know them, doesn’t distinguish
their choices, doesn’t understand their person. He’s clear to say that
there’s good cops, but he quickly says that they
can’t police well because they don’t understand us. Two other examples. “You do have those
individuals who look at us and look at the news and
say, they’re animals. Look at them. Look how they behave. They’re obscene individuals. They don’t know me. I’ve went to school, I have my
degree, and I cherish my job. I love working with children. I love working in the community. I think, at the end
of the day, I’m still going to be that one third of
a human being because of what society and what the
history has written on.” “As far as the police
that might have grown up in our communities that
know us and our struggles– not to use that as a downfall– the police that is stopping
our kids and messing with us are the ones that
do not even know us. These are white people coming in
and just saying all black men, or all black people
are drug addicts, and it’s not like that. It’s a lot of young
working people, you know? Do you understand
what I’m saying?” One of the most common narrative
anchors in the conversations is what we call
distorted responsiveness. Instead of responsive
government agents, people experience state agencies
both everywhere and nowhere. Police authority
was most energetic where it didn’t matter
for their lives– busting people for
selling loose squares or other minor transgressions,
but withholding, and out-of-reach, and aloof
when they were steady dying. Aggressive policing
and patrolling was yoked with ambivalence. This meant that
participants saw the police as both useless and
harmful, and they saw themselves as vulnerable
to the state on both flanks– to abandonment– they give
you time to die, one said– and aggressive intervention. Not being heard, not being cared
for when you are a victim, not being taken seriously is a
form of non-responsiveness and disregard by the state. It is painful in its own right. But being treated harshly
in the company of perceived abandonment is what we mean
by distorted responsiveness. These framing of the
police often occurred in the same breath– two sides to the same coin. A few examples will
show what I mean. Now, with that being
said, when they don’t have nothing
else to do, they’ll go to certain neighborhoods
and just pick at you, you know what I’m saying? Now, when you really are
needed in that neighborhood, they might have never come. But if you go, like, places
anywhere in the western part of LA, something happened there,
they immediately are there. And the reason for that is
because those neighborhoods is very rich, you know
what I’m saying? And it caters to the rich. A poor man wouldn’t
have a chance concerning the law in LA. “The police where I
live at, they just take a long time to get there. Like, you can call
them for anything, it don’t matter
what it is, and they be talking like, like they
don’t got enough force out here to come and help you when
you really need them. But they be harassing people
who ain’t got nothing– absolutely nothing. Yeah, they do shit when
they ready to do it– when it’s beneficial to them. They really don’t give a
fuck about how you is.” “In my city, it’s more of they
will put you in jail for weed or something little,
but if somebody gets shot in the
head down the street, they can’t find who did it. That’s how it is here.” “I really don’t like the police. Like, they don’t
respond fast enough when you really need them. They rude as ever. They stop you for no
apparent reason at all. Like, they just– I feel like they do too much. Your mission is to
serve and protect, but we see you as threats now. Me and my son be scared
to walk down the street. We go home. We shut all the doors,
let all the blinds down. We go to bed.” And this man compares
his experience to an abusive father. “Anything happen to you, son? I’m here. But instead, your
father is the one that’s abusing you and beating you. Why is you protecting me? You the one harming me. It’s the same way with the
police and the higher authority here, and we go
through this every day. I just got pulled
over by the police not even three to four days ago. Man, I got a good
driving license. I’m a high school graduate. I’m not a felon, you
know what I’m saying? I don’t smoke, but you
still want to search my car and harass me like
I murdered someone.” So I just wanted to let you
know we’re closing in on 5:00, and I imagine there are a
lot of questions brimming. Oh, good. OK. With this in view,
it seems awkward to theorize unequal democracy
as just about one’s preferences, or not being heard by officials,
or political exclusion, as my political science
colleagues would have it, but the dual position of
not being heard and crushed on a lark. I’ll skip pretty quickly,
since I’m running out of time. Another thing– we
have a piece coming out in The Journal of Politics
called “Too Much Knowledge, Too Little Power,” where we noticed
something in the dialogues. We noticed that participants had
extensive political knowledge about government But this
knowledge of government was dual and contrasting. They knew what the state
was supposed to do, and then they described
what it actually did. So let me just skip over my
notes and show you what I mean. And I’ll just start
with this famous quote by a father of our
field, Philip Converse, the father of public opinion
and political behavior. “Popular levels of information
about public affairs are, from the point of view
of the informed observer, astonishingly low.” Well, what we found is
that Portals participants had extensive knowledge of how
municipal government worked. They would mention things in
the course of conversation like the Hicks waiver. They knew about due process. They knew more than
those of us who have studied policing
for the better part of two decades about
how policing actually worked. And from this knowledge,
they had elaborated a code of informal
prohibitions– things that they could do, things
that they should do, precautions they should
take, work-arounds, different accepted behaviors
that they should engage in. So we can’t be three or more– this comes up a lot. Being in a crowd was
forbidden, or would elicit police attention. There may not be a
written policy on that, but that’s what they do. Those kinds of
statements happened a lot in the course of
the conversation– saying, this is what we
know from our body of laws and from our constitution. This is what the media tells us. This is the oath that police
have sworn and is emblazoned on the side of every police
car, but let me tell you how it actually works. So to give you a
sense of these– let’s see, let’s
read the second one. But it’s unconstitutional,
but it ain’t for us, no way. You know what I’m saying? These laws– they
meant to fuck us over. Yeah, we under the Willie Lynch
law, you know what I’m saying? Then this one, he’s describing
to his conversation partner in Mexico City how the
law works in the US. Well, I think that
most real people will understand that the United
States Constitution protects the people from the government. It says what the government
cannot do to you, and what you can expect
from the government– to leave you alone, and not
do certain things to you. They can’t take your
land away from you. They can’t come into
your house, your home. They can’t do certain things. But when you tell
the police that– I have a right not to answer,
because the Constitution says so– they don’t care. That doesn’t matter to them. They need that information, and
if you don’t give it to them, they are going to make
your life miserable. Oftentimes, you
see phrases like, they’re supposed to
protect and serve, but really, they do this. We’re supposed to be innocent
before we’re proven guilty, but really, we’re guilty
before we’re innocent– a counter-posing of what
Tracey Meares, my co-author, calls the overt curriculum
and the hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum is
what they actually lived by, and it meant incredible
interpretive labor to navigate their lives. But if you didn’t understand
the hidden curriculum, it could result in harmful
action by the state. I’m known for my work suggesting
that custodial interactions– carceral interactions
with the state– demobilize people. They lead people to forgo
the political process and to involuntarily– or voluntarily–
politically withdraw. But we noticed something
interesting here. It’s not just that people
were receding from the state. It’s not just that they were
saying things like, well, I’m going to stay to myself. Right now, what I’m doing out
here in the streets of Chicago is staying to myself,
minding my own business, and doing what I got
to do to survive. I avoid them. I stay in my house every day. They also started to say
things like, well, we can police our own. We need to stick together. We need to come together as a
community and police our own– a kind of expression
of collective autonomy and collective power. Often, this was
just an aspiration. It wasn’t necessarily
well-worked-out, in their view. But I began to revise my old
intuition that it was just state retreat happening. There is a politics there, and
it’s one of communal autonomy OK, let me linger on that
so you can at least see it. And let me begin to conclude. I want to remind
you of this image and of the second
face of the state. Even though I’ve spent my time
here with you today emphasizing modes of state action from
the bottom-up perspective– distorted responsiveness,
custodial socialization that flows from it, and
the hidden curriculum– these potent new storylines
borrow from the past. The country that is
black has been theorizing the American state in their
sermons, memoirs, reporting, and poetry. But those who grew up on
TH Marshall and Robert Dahl saw, everywhere, pluralism
and political equality. They seemed to discover
threats to democracy that were the state of play in
race-class subjugated . Communities Those of us who grew up on
DuBois and Baldwin and Malcolm X knew better. Black intellectual
traditions have been contesting and reframing
this view of America for at least a century. I hope, in this project,
to unsettle framings of American democracy
and inequality, and to show, from
Portals, that we have a distorted portrait
of democracy and government in America. As we describe in the
book we’re writing, Portals tells a new
but obvious story about race-class
citizenship in America, and recasts how we
understand the role of the state in their lives. It’s not exclusion from
democratic institutions that characterizes political
inequality in our time, but inclusion in the
anti-democratic face of the state. Marginalization, or
unequal citizenship is not simply a story
of material inequality, the distance between the
haves and the have-nots, or the responsiveness of our
political system to the haves. Instead, it is a broad
difference in the way the government– from schools,
to the welfare office, to especially the police– orients itself
towards residents. It’s not only that people in
communities like the low-end are exposed to a
different set of material deficits concentrated in
particular spaces that make them vulnerable. People in these locales
experience distorted responsiveness from the
state’s most-present authority. They illustrate the
disconnect between what is claimed in democratic
theories of American politics and what is actually realized. What Portals
participants know is their experience of government
bears little resemblance to official governance
or written law, and so when they say
the laws aren’t for us, or that may be your
reality, but it’s not ours, they are not mounting a
challenge that our preferences aren’t registered. They are demanding a
revision of the state as operating in
anti-democratic ways as a matter of unofficial
policy in their neighborhoods. When they say, we have the law,
but police don’t follow it, no way, they mean to document
that sworn oaths mean little to communities when
the facts of experience show police
subverting that oath. I also wanted to append the
traditional way of gathering research data and argue
that we can do more than mere spectatorship. Our methods can,
through connection, bring to life
communities and bring to life civic possibilities and
new types of civic encounters in these communities. And I’ll just say that this
is where we’re going next. We have put in several
grant applications to expand the Portals to
communities like Amani around the world. And our hope is to
create what we’re calling a global
undercommons democracy– a place where people can,
through sharing local wisdom, achieve global connection
and build power together. One example I like to
highlight in my talks is what happened in Milwaukee
after several months of the Portal being there. We thought this was
a terrific medium for listening, and
for really revising what we thought we knew. But instead, it
became clear to us that this was a platform to
build power across places. And in Milwaukee, people
began to say, “our Portal.” Kids without passports
were traveling to distant countries every day. They ended up using the Portal
to negotiate a gang truce that remains to this day. The aldermen started passing
through a neighborhood they had never come to before. They began using the
Portal for all kinds of little enactments– enactments that we thought would
chip away at civic ostracism, and unsettle their disadvantage. I can talk more about what
Lewis Lee did in his community with the Portal
in the Q&A, but we began to realize that
the power of this went beyond research, and
towards building civic capacity and power in these communities. So thank you, and I look
forward to your questions. [APPLAUSE] So we have about 15
minutes for your questions. We have microphones
that will come down. Professor Weaver, thank
you for your talk. It was great. I have a quick question–
two questions related to the police– to the
cops and what the cops said along two veins. So the first is,
how are the police constructing these communities? And so you made these
connections, but the way that police see the
people in these places, is this the same as what Malcolm
was writing about in the ’50s and ’60s? Is this the same as what DuBois
was writing about in 1890 through the ’70s? Or has it changed in
any significant way? And similarly with
the cops, we tend to talk about the state
as this one thing. But in this Federalist,
kind of shit show of a government that we have,
there’s beefs between levels, right? And so the current
presidential administration has tried to turn
every law enforcement agency into a member of ICE. We’ve seen glimmers
of solidarity with police
departments declaring that they refuse to do that. Anecdotally, I can
tell you the police chief in my community brought us
all in, sat us down, and said, we work for you
guys, not for them. And so is this
boundary policing, or is this real solidarity
between these local law enforcement agencies
and their communities? Or is it them
simply kind of going on some old-school, this
is not our job, we’re not going to have you tell us
what to do, kind of stuff? I love your first question
about how police construct these communities
across time, because one of the things I am
struggling with right now that I am trying to do– I don’t know if I will
be able to do it– is to locate an arc across
historical black discourse around the police. So if you listen
to James Baldwin, he is theorizing democracy, and
oftentimes speaks about police. If you pick up black
historical newspapers, they are theorizing the police
as being central to what the state is doing. Now, it was, of
course, different. Police were, in some
ways, more brutal, more unregulated, and smaller– much smaller, much smaller. They had much less power
in American communities, much less everyday interactions
with those communities, in the ’40s and ’50s, and before
the can arise of the tripling of police manpower in the ’70w
and the rise of broken windows policing that really orients
urban governments towards protecting people
from the market, because they couldn’t– or
protecting people from crime, because they couldn’t
protect them from the market, and really centralizing the
role of police in constructing subjects and in managing
disorder created by, in many ways, the state itself. And so one of the things
that I’ve noticed– I went back to an oral history
archive called Behind the Veil where they interviewed
thousands of black Americans about their
experience– people who had lived through Jim Crow
in the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s– and interviewed them. And I was just curious
how prevalent– do we see the same
kind of narratives? And you wouldn’t believe how
often people discussed police action in their communities. Now, sometimes it was different. Oftentimes, it was them
celebrating the integration of the local police force. But oftentimes, it looked very
similar to the kinds of things we were hearing in these
conversations today. Similarly, if you go back–
and nobody has done this– Kerner commission
interviewed, in 1967– sent field teams to 23
cities and interviewed 1,200 residents– many of
them political leaders, but some of them
ordinary citizens. And what they say about the
police is remarkably similar. I mean, you could put it up
to the Portals dialogues, and it’s as though
no time has passed. So one thing we want
to do in the book is to connect that narrative
arc and find continuities and discontinuities. Part of what we
think we are doing is representing– much like
the WPA narratives went and collected the
narratives of ex-slaves, or the Freedmen’s Bureau
went and collected the narratives of
newly-freed people, we wanted to collect
the narratives of people living through
a profound moment of social control. So we will be doing that
in the book– trying to trace those historical arcs. And not just through elites
and through the thought leaders like James Baldwin,
but through ordinary voices. I’m not sure I understood your
second question about the state as one thing. So do you mean to say that
I’ve kind of flattened– police across these
communities kind of operate in similar ways? Yeah, kind of, but also, in
different agencies too, right? So what does it mean to
interact with your local law enforcement, versus the city,
versus an FBI person or ICE, in particular? I would say the preponderance
of the narratives focuses on local
police interactions, because those are the ones
that are most prevalent. We do have many Latino
communities in Los Angeles and in Chicago talking
about ICE and immigration, and equating it to
similar police actions, and a similar sense of
being suspicious and being out of place, and having to
navigate certain work-arounds and precautions. We haven’t analyzed them– and
you’ve given me a good idea to really try to parse out,
what are people saying about– are there differences? And I do think there are, even
in the local police forces. So you get certain
kinds of topics that come up again and
again and again in Baltimore around Baltimore police that
you don’t get in Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, it is a
classically white police force that drives in from the suburbs. There’s very little
diversity on the force, and an entirely black
population that’s being policed. And so the racial
discourses there look very different than the
racial discourses in Baltimore, where a substantial
share of the police are black, and are seen as
enemies of the community even still. So I need to do more to look
at the city distinctions. I think we were starting by
just finding the big frameworks, but I think there’s a lot of
differences and divergences to explore. [INAUDIBLE],, do you want
to take the next question? This is such an
impressive project that even a mild
criticism might just sound like an act of
intellectual incivility. Please. [LAUGHTER] So that said, at least
three points that might be worth considering. One, a political theory point–
your critique of Dahl, I think, is unfair. The concept of polyarchy, as
laid out right after the mid ’60s revolution–
political revolution, Civil Rights revolution
in the United States, said that before the
mid-1960s, America was less of a polyarchy, became
more of a polyarchy later because on the x-axis,
competitiveness– it’s been competitive
for quite some time. And you can get fairly
competitive in politics, even if one community’s
excluded by definition. But on participation, there
is a huge, huge difference on y-axis. And if you take this
further, he would argue, looking at this material–
and certainly based on his New Haven book– he would probably argue that
inclusion of these excluded race-class subjugated
communities– lovely phrase, right? Very evocative. Race-class subjugated
communities would make America a bigger
polyarchy, greater polyarchy. So I think the concept
there– or the idea there– allows this kind of– on
participation, certainly, it allows incorporation
of what you’re saying in democratic theory. And certainly, he’s the paradigm
of liberal democratic theory, so I think the criticism
is a bit unfair– if my interpretation
of work is right. Second, as I’ll
present tomorrow, one problem in looking at
the subjugated communities of the United States is
the numbers are very small. When you get into a
place like India– let me just give you
the numbers here, which we didn’t hear from
you; we didn’t get from you. If you think of the
lower castes of India– the lower Hindu
castes of India– that adds up to 68% of India. And democracy begins to
respond to that not perfectly, but you just cannot ignore 68%. It can ignore 12% of
America that is black– and maybe some more than
you can add to that– but you can’t ignore 68%. So the way that democracy
responding to, it won’t be race-class subjugated– you’ll just call it
some alternative, right? The subaltern community–
it’s a very different kind of response. It’s not perfect. It’s not that their interests
have been taken care of fully, but the way democracy
is going out towards the subaltern is a very
different phenomenon because of sheer numbers that must
matter in a voting republic. And third– And let’s make it brief too. Third is just a question. Do you find the Maya Sen
argument about deep roots, about the way American South
was between 1865 and 1880s, and the way it has
been over the last 20 years– the
continuities there– do you find that argument,
persuasive, appealing, what have you? Those are really good questions. I think my critique
is actually not of Dahl, and not of polyarchy. My critique is what the
subfield of American politics has taken that to mean,
and how it has trained their gaze almost exclusively on
a theory of democratic deficit as housed only within
responsiveness or not, representative or not. Whereas when you
go to communities– to subaltern communities– that is not how they
evaluate the state. They’re evaluating it not based
on first face arrangements– or not in the main on
first face arrangements. They’re evaluating it
on how it coerces them, how it regulates
their behaviors, whether it can
kick in their door in the middle of the night– much more powerful and present
and non-abstracted notions. And we, as a
subfield, have utterly failed to look at that
conception of government– because, I think, we don’t
live in those neighborhoods. We don’t understand
government to be in the main– whether your body is
safe from sexual power, in the words of Paul Butler,
who compares a police pat-down to sexual power–
to a sexual assault. To me, that’s where
my critique lies. I’m not in the weeds of
the theory of polyarchy. We’re missing an entire axis of
how the state actually comports itself, actually acts,
actually exhibits power. So that’s my critique. I mean, I don’t– yeah. And then the second– I mean, I’ll have to think about
“your numbers are small” idea. The numbers are not small if
you consider urban democracy, and if you consider the
population that is in the city limits of most of these places. And then on the third, just
quickly– on Maya Sen’s Deep Roots, I blurbed the book. I reviewed the book. I think there’s something
powerful in the continuity that she’s tracing. For those who are
unfamiliar with the book, basically, they have found
that the counties that had the largest share
of their population enslaved in 1860 today
exhibit certain patterns– racial resentment patterns. I think they look at lynching
at some point in the book. I have wished that they did more
to elucidate the mechanisms. So is this an institutional
transference story? At some points in
the book, it seems to be a kind of generational
pass-down story. So they find that
the share in counties that had the largest
share enslaved in 1860, vote certain ways today,
are basically more racially hostile, more racially
anti-democratic today. I think it’s a
persuasive argument. I would be curious to see
what historians think of it. The use of persistence
regressions kind of came into
fashion and then left the field of economics. I’d be curious to see
what people think of that. Yeah, curious to hear
what you think of it. Let’s take one more question. We’ll do Blessing. Thanks for the presentation. I mean, as I was listening,
I mean, there are so many– [INAUDIBLE] Thank you. So many concepts were
ringing in my mind. But one that it just struck
me is the misconception– sorry, misrecognition– not
being known by the state. And as you were
talking, I was thinking about Nairobi, where we work. And most African cities, it’s
always a case of two cities, OK– the real city,
and what is called the informal settlements,
which actually is the majority. So it’s not about numbers, OK? And what we see is
the near-absence of the public sector, the
near-absence of government and government investments. And when you begin to talk
about the police, what we see is that these are places that
the police doesn’t cover. The high-brow areas
of police stations– if you look st Nairobi,
for instance, about 60% of the population in the city. And you mentioned about
politics– doesn’t really have police investments in
policing infrastructure, OK? So the reason is that they
are informal settlements, but yet there are
political [INAUDIBLE].. So in effect, one of the
things I was just looking at– a comparison. How does this play out? It doesn’t play out in most
of the ways you showed it, but it should played
out in absence. And I can give an example. Youths– youth are seen as
perpetrators of violence. But nobody have looked
at the youth as victims. And that is where data
comes in, and that is where research is
important, because we looked at causes of adult deaths. I mean, they are dead, and
something caused their death. In 2003, injury caused
5% of adult death. But by 2012– because we have
a demographic surveillance, so we looked at
every year– by 2012, injury hazard is into 12%,
and 54% of those injury deaths are related to assault. And
when you go to younger people, it actually goes up to 70%. Of course, they didn’t
kill themselves. Assaults has to do with
you being a victim. But there is totally no police
presence in these areas. And so if you talk to
the community they said, well, we don’t matter. We are not part of this city. So I think that’s
what I wanted to draw on– this fact that is not
about the way police relate to the community. It’s just that they
are totally absent. Government is not there. Whether it is rape, whether
it is assault of all kinds, whether it is gang violence,
there is totally absence. But data shows how big
this challenge really is. And for us, again, is
no more about this issue as it is how do you address it? Which is we are engaging
with government. And in your case, I wanted
to get your reaction about engaging with the police
in terms of these issues, and how do you move
forward from there? What you characterize is also
with a number of caveats– how black communities
experienced police inaction in prior eras. So before the rise
of modern policing, black areas were
under-protected. Randall Kennedy made the
concept of under-policing alive and showed that oftentimes, when
victims called in these areas, they got slower response
times, halting responses. That, I think, is
still a strand– as you saw in some of these
discourses, where people say, they’re everywhere,
and yet when sister is lying on the floor
bleeding out from a gun wound, somehow they take two hours
to come, and when they come, then they’re asking, does
anybody have a warrant out? Their orientation
to us is skewed. In terms of– I didn’t report
this, but youth in this sample have extraordinary
rates of victimization. So we asked them not just
about police contact, but also about being a victim. And they’re the same population. They’re the same population. This idea that there’s the
perpetrators and the victims is just a total, utter fallacy. But in the course of– and
maybe we will map this out. In the course of
the dialogues, even I was struck at how
young people have already witnessed extraordinary
traumas, have lost fathers. Our curator, Lewis Lee,
has lost three brothers to gang violence, has
gunshot wounds himself. The extraordinary
levels of violence that are witnessed by
very young people– I think we need to start to
think of this as a childhood intervention. Policing and victimization
are childhood interventions. And if we can make the
interventions a last-resort in childhood, or create
a new set– advance a new set of
relations among youth, rather than learning about the
government at age 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 as being a
surveillant force, you have a different interaction. I think until we get
there, our policy responses are completely unimaginative. Better training
has not yielded– historically. Procedural reforms have never– and will not– yield
more substantive justice. We know that from the
historical record. In fact, it is in a time of
progressive expansive police reforms and procedural
justice reforms that we got the biggest
expansion in police power. I think we need a
broader reorientation of how governing authorities
approach and deal with youth. And part of why I like to throw
up that slide about their ages is that I don’t think that most
Americans understand that– that this is
happening– the onset of custodial interactions–
are happening in the pre-pubescent years. What can we do to reimagine the
role of the state among youth– even youthful offenders? And that shifted over time. So I have an article that
came out in the Russell Sage Journal where– imagine a 2 by 2. Yes, I’ve been an offender. Yes, I did something to
run afoul of the law– or no I haven’t– on one axis. Yes, I’ve had contact with
the criminal justice system. I’ve been arrested. Or no, I haven’t
on the other axis. The criminal justice system
should have the majority of Americans in the diagonal. Yes, I’ve had contact. Yes, I offended. No, I haven’t had contact. No, I haven’t done a crime. And that’s exactly how it looked
among the cohort of youth that was turning 18 in 1979. By 2001, the
quadrants had shifted, and the majority of Americans
fell in the off-diagonal. Shocking. Yes, I’ve done a crime. No, I have not had contact. No, I haven’t done a crime. Yes, I have been arrested. And I will leave it up to you to
guess which racial demographics moved where. To me, we have to
grapple with that. That means that a substantial
share of Americans are having contact
who have not engaged in an offending behavior. Now, some would say
to me, well, that’s because they’re trying to–
it’s the old Bill Stunz argument– they’re trying to
go after the real violent guys, and so we had to expand police
surveillance of everyone, and yes, some people
got caught up. But we’re at a point
where the exceptions are mocking the rule. And now let’s continue
our conversation out in the foyer over our reception. Please join me in thanking
Professor Vesla Weaver. Thank– you. [APPLAUSE]

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