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Black Lives Matter: Race, Resistance and Popular Protest

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number IDSEM-UG1849
Section 001
Instructor Frank Roberts
Days R
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC



The age of the Obama Presidency has been plagued by a number of highly publicized police cases involving the shooting of unarmed black citizens at the hands of law enforcement and/or local vigilantes. In the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown, Vonderrick Myers, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and others, the recent #blacklivesmatter movement has emerged largely in response to histories of state sanctioned violence against black and brown bodies. This seminar links the #blacklivesmatter” movement to four broader phenomena: 1) the rise of the U.S. prison industrial complex and the increasing militarization of inner city communities, 2) the role of media in influencing national conversations about race and racism, 3) the state of racial justice activism in the purportedly “post-racial” Obama Presidency, and 4) the increasingly populist nature of decentralized protest movements in the U.S. We will debate and engage with a variety of topics, including the moral ethics of “looting” and riotous forms of protest; violent vs. nonviolent civil disobedience; the media myth of “black on black” crime; coalitional politics and the black feminist and LGBTQ underpinnings of the #blacklivesmatter movement; comparisons between the blacklivesmatter movement and the U.S. civil rights movement; and the dynamics of political protest among the millennial and post-millennial generations. Readings will likely include writings by Cornel West, Michelle Alexander, James Cone, Osaygefo Sekou, Imani Perry, Frederick Harris. Our reading material will also be supplemented by guest speakers and media activists who have played prominent roles in the blacklivesmatter movement.


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)