This past week a lot of people learned about Juneteenth. Let us take it a step forward and learn more about Black history.
There is so much more to learn. Albany Law Professors Anthony Farley and Ciji Dodds will be talking with us about Black history and how the law plays a big role in creating the systematic racism that exists today.
Antonia greets her audience, and announces that Stamford Connecticut, hometown of last weeks guest Guy Fortt, has made big steps towards bringing together the public and the police department thanks to Fortt’s local chapter of the NAACP.
Antonia introduces her guests who are all professors from Albany law school. Anthony Farley;
James Campbell Matthews Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, Christian Sundquist; Director of Faculty Research and Professor of Law, and Ciji Dodds; Assistant Professor of Law. They discuss their career and their time as professors at Albany and other institutions. Each professor has an extensive background in civil justice and social services.
Antonia says that she was interested to hear that many Americans didn’t know about Juneteenth before this year. Sundquist says that growing up in Chicago, he was never taught about Juneteenth and credits the issue with the erasure of black history. He says that erasing black history promotes the idea of white innocence and agrees that Juneteenth should be a national holiday.
Prof Dodds says that emancipation has been largely romanticized and erasure of black history is the cause of that. She says that black peoples once were not allowed to celebrate independence day because of the ideas of freedom accosted with the holiday.
Farley says Juneteenth being largely celebrated this year could be a double edged sword, as it leans into the romanticization of emancipation. He says that freed peoples had to take the initiative to free themselves, as opposed to how the story goes, that kind slave owners released their slaves willingly.
Antonia discusses the sudden call for equity and inclusion. Farley says that inclusion is an easy thing to promise and not follow through on, and we have to be careful of token inclusion. Sundquist says that affirmative action is used as a cover by many corporations to not take real action. Dodds says that social programs are great, but the black community needs reparations in order for anything to really move forward.
Dodds says that white supremacy has an interest in controlling black Americans to control their power. She says to do that, they treat black persons like objects.
Sundquist says that the history of slavery has been largely accepted and rationalized over time to make it more palpable for us today. He says that today, many people assume equality to be achieved and slavery atoned for. Because of this, it makes any move to actually achieve equality seen as unnecessary.
Antonia asks Dodds to discuss concrete steps to spread advocacy. Dodds says that the first step is to give teachers and professors tools to engage their students and community in the race discussion. She says each of us as individuals need to figure out what we can do and are willing to do to fight racial injustice.