Racial Justice and Public Policy (Dean's Symposium)

April 12, 2024 1:15:41
Kaltura Video

Five successful academicians from a variety of disciplines will discuss their work and perspectives regarding racial justice and public policy. April, 2024.


Welcome. I'm Paula Lantz.

I'm the James Hudak Professor
of Health Policy and

Professor of Public
Policy here at

the Ford School
of Public Policy.

And it's my distinct pleasure to

welcome you all today
and to be moderating

this panel with some of

my Favorite people
and a new friend.

On this important topic of

racial justice and
public policy.

So we're delighted that

all of you are here
in the room with us.

There's people watching online.

Thank you all so
much for joining us.

I do want to take a moment and

acknowledge a special
person in the audience.

And that is our Dean
Celeste Watkins Hayes.

Thank you. First of all,

for organizing such an inspiring
and important two days

of events here at
the Ford School,

but also thank you so much for

your inspired leadership and

creativity and your day to

day leading the charge
here at the Ford School.

We love you. Thank you so much.

Okay. I also want to acknowledge

a sponsor of our panel today.

It's the Center for
Racial Justice here at

the Ford School and
also our media partner,

which is Detroit Public
Television. All right.

So for the run of
show here today,

I'm going to do some very
brief introductions.

And then our panelists will tell

you a bit more about themselves

and their work in the space
of being in academia,

but also working and many,

many different ways on issues
related to racial justice.

I then have a few questions
to pose to the panel.

They have important
things to say.

I'm just going to
apologize ahead of

time. We're going
to run out of time.

We don't have enough time.
This is a big topic.

There's lots for them to share.

We're going to try
to get through

as much as we can and carve

out some time at the end to

get some questions
from the audience,

both in the room
and online as well.

If you're watching online,

you can submit a question

by clicking a link
on the web page,

and if you're here, there
should be little pieces of

paper with QR codes

on them throughout the
room. Are they there?

Okay. So you can use that to
submit a question as well.

And my colleagues,
Katrina Han and

Ken Epstein will be helping

moderate the Q&A
session. All right.

Ready to go. We're ready
to meet the panelists.

Okay. Let's start
with Patrick Johnson,

who is the Dean of the
School of Communication and

the Annenberg
University professor

at Northwestern University.

Dean Johnson is a
prolific performer.

If we have time, maybe
you'll sing for us.

I don't know. He's a scholar

and he's an inspiring teacher

whose research and artistry has

greatly impacted African
American studies,

performance studies, gender
and sexuality studies

as well as communication
science and study.

Kathy Chen is with
us today as well.

Kathy is the David and
Mary Winton Green,

service professor at

the University of Chicago

where she's worn many
administrative hats

and has a new role coming up.

I learned last night.
Professor Cohen

is a political
scientist, scholar,

and social activist, and
much of her work focuses on

Black politics from
the vantage point

of intersectionality.

Also with us today is

a new colleague for us at
the Ford School, Motors.

He is a Michigan
Society of fellows,

postdoctoral scholar and also
an assistant professor in

both the Department of Sociology

and the Ford School here.

As a sociologist,

Professor Torres research
and teaching interests

are in political economy,

urban politics, and
race class inequality.

He's currently
working on a book,

which I cannot wait to read,

which explores the politics
of fiscal crisis and

urban austerity in Michigan

from the 1970s to the present.

Then also, my colleague

and friend here at
the Ford School and

Chin and is Professor

of public policy here
at the Ford School.

And also, she's the director of

the Liber Tal Rogel Center
for Chinese Studies

here at the University
of Michigan.

She's a political scientist
and has a great body of work.

More recently, her work has
been focusing on how people

experience and respond to
policy implementation,

diving into the reactions of
people who are targeted by

public policy with
a special focus

on this happening in
racialized context.

So please join me in welcoming
Alan today. All right.

So to start,

there's more you could learn
about all these people.

You could read their bios.

But I've asked them
to all to just take

a few minutes and
give you a couple of

highlights regarding how
racial and ethnic inequality

and racial justice figure
into their scholarly work,

their artistic endeavors,

their community and
public engagement,

their public policy, work,

activism, however they want

to further introduce
themselves to you.

So we'll start with Dan Johnson.

It's wonderful to be here.

I consider Dean Watkins has
not only a friend but family,

and I miss her dearly.

You stole her away
from us. I'm sorry.

But I'm happy that it's
only a four hour drive or,

you know, a quick plane
ride away from her.

I often describe myself
as an academic trickster

because I don't sit

easily in any discipline
or any field.

Much of my work most of
my scholarly work is

qualitative and with
different kinds

of methods including
ethnography and oral history.

And my artistic work
and my scholarly work

dovetail with one another,
they inform the other.

And most of my work
engages marginalized

communities who are marginalized
based on their racial,

gender or sexual identity
or their regional identity.

Much of my work focuses
on the US South.

And specifically,

I've done two big oral
history projects,

one focusing on Black gay men of

the South and another project

on Black lesbians of the South.

And I'll talk more

when we get into our
conversation about

the specific policy
implications of that work.

But my artistic work as well is

based on that
scholarly research.

I perform the narratives that

I've collected over the years,

and that's been wonderful
taking those stories to

spaces that have the idea

that no gay people
live in the south.

Which is But elevating

those stories in a way that

can lead might lead
to policy change,

but we'll get into that later.

Turn Professor Fanta.

I too want to thank

our dear Dean Watkins Hayes for

the invitation to participate
in this wonderful event.

I am not at Northwestern,

but I represent Chicago.

And we miss you also.

But since I'm a
graduate of Michigan,

I think it's okay that year.

I'm going to start maybe

outside of the
academy and just say,

I promise you stop me.

2 minutes about M upbringing,

because when I was invited,

I kept saying, I've
said to everyone.

I don't do policy.
I don't do policy.

But the more I thought about it,

my life is defined
by policy, right?

I am what is considered to be
an affirmative action baby.

I had an opportunity for

better educational opportunities
because Our house,

when we were young, was taken,

I say, by urban renewal.

And my parents decided, Okay,

we're going to move us out of

this predominantly
Black neighborhood

into a predominantly
white neighborhood.

Within two years,

the new predominantly
white neighborhood was

predominantly black again.
Because of white flight.

And so, I feel like everything
about my upbringing,

was about thinking
about the complexity,

the beauty, the resilience,

the difficulties faced
by Black people and

the political environment
defined by anti Blackness.

And so I couldn't imagine
being a scholar that

wasn't deeply anchored and

thinking about questions
of and racial justice.

And I think because
of that upbringing,

because of the expectations
that my family sent me,

I would say, into
the academy with,

that my community sent me
into the academy with.

I'm always thinking
about questions

of Not only kind of the struggles
that Black people face,

but I want to emphasize
the complexity,

and here we might think
about the framework

of intersectionality, right?

To think about the ways in
which class plays a role,

sexuality, gender,
I don't do region,

but maybe I shouldn't do region.

I don't. My first work,

as Paul knows was
on HIV and AIDs,

and the ways in which Black

communities responded to that.

Both from those who

had we might consider
to be indigenous power

and those who are
being stigmatized and

demonized all within
Black communities, right?

That type of complexity.

And then more recent
work is really

focusing on young people
and in particular,

young people of
color, thinking about

their positionality with
regards to politics,

but the ways in which the
filters of race, racism,

anti blackness shape
their politics

and how we might think of
their future politics.

So I'll stop there and
turn it over to M.

S. So I'll join the
chorus in celebrating

Dean Watkinss except from

the other perspective
to say that I'm ver

happy you're here and
not Chao personally.

It's kind of a surreal moment

for me in a few different ways.

One, I was an MPP student here,

and I think I took calculus

and micro con in this classroom.

So it's weird to be on
this side of the table.

And also, I mentioned
Presco yesterday,

I don't think I
told you this part,

but actually my senior thesis,

the theoretical
framing was based on

your 1997 article in J Q.

So it's a very very happy.

Thank you. So my work is
on urban fiscal crisis,

and specifically
here in Michigan.

As you all probably know,

Michigan has no shortage
of fiscal crisis from

big cities like Detroit and

Flint to very small cities
like Benton Harbor,

nster, Highland Park,

Hamtramc the list goes
on and on and on.

But I appreciate Paul
your emphasis on

inequality in your question
because many people, I think,

know the story of
Detroit as a story

of urban decline
of white flight,

of the industrialization of

the collapse of the
automobile industry,

and just essentially a
lot of kind of sadness

and misery and social problems
in the city of Detroit.

But I'm really interested
in inequality,

a relationship of who

has a lot of resources
and who has many fewer.

And so when you zoom out a
little bit from the city

of Detroit to Metro Detroit,

you have a very different story.

Detroit's population
is about 600,000.

But in Metro Detroit,
there are almost

4.5 million people
in the metro area.

Detroit has a lot of
poverty and a lot

of a lot of social problems
in the city of Detroit.

But actually, Metro
Detroit is one of

the wealthiest metropolitan
areas in the country,

even with the rates of poverty
in the City of Detroit.

Some of the wealthiest
cities in Michigan and in

the Midwest and actually in

the country are
in Metro Detroit.

So Bloomfield Hills,
Grosse Pointe.

They're very wealthy places.

And so when I think
about inequality

from a metropolitan level,

my questions that I ask
are not what went wrong

in Detroit to cause

all the problems that
the city is facing,

but rather thinking about

sort of the metropolitan
economy as a whole,

how did we get to a point where

we decided it was okay
to have a city like

Detroit with high
rates of poverty and

extreme sort of blight and

problems throughout
the city right next to

some of the most
affluent communities

in the entire country.

And so, Professor Derek

amilton yesterday
asked us, you know,

what is an economy
for And I think

one way to answer that from

the perspective
of Metro Detroit,

the purpose of our economy,

the way we've built it is

essentially to make sure that we

funnel as few resources as

possible into places
like Detroit,

Flint, Benton Harbor,
and other places,

and hoard as many as we can in

the surrounding metro
area suburbs. Okay.

Thank you. It's such an honor

to be here and to be on a panel

with people who many of whom,

some of whom I have admired
for my entire career.

I also want to say my thanks to

Celeste because it was
really working with you

when you were associate dean

of academic affairs
that made me really

feel like I could
take another step in

my career and to be a leader.

And so I just am so

appreciative of everything
you do for us here.

I've had a really weird career,

and I just want to
get that out first,

because I don't necessarily

recommend that you
follow my career.

Here our choices.
Don't make these.

But one of the
reasons I think it's

a weird career is
because I have really,

although I didn't do
it intentionally,

been just consumed with

understanding how people
that we think are similar,

that we think are, you know,

characterized by some trait or

characteristic that they
share are actually different.

And I am passionate about both

recognizing these axes of

inequality that exist
within the world,

but also understanding
that people who are on

an access of inequality
can be very different.

And those differences
really matter.

So I did a dissertation and

a first book on prison
programs and really

wanted to look both
at prisoners and

prison staff and to
think about how this,

you know, one overwhelming

characteristic that
defines them, you know,

incarceration or working with

incarcerated people, you know,

conceals a lot of
differences in those groups,

and how are those
differences made meaningful.

Um, I had the great good luck

to come to the Ford
School of Public Policy.

And to work with two people,

Sheldon Danziger
and Mary Corcoran,

who are just giants are in

Having social science and

particularly the social sciences

that are not
sociology, economics,

political science,
history, sociology,

really take poverty

seriously as something to

study and understand and combat.

And so thanks to them,

I was brought into a world

where I really could
think a lot about

racial differences in the
experience of poverty

and very proud to have put

together edited volumes
that really sort of,

I think, center that
important difference

and those differences within
groups and how you know,

we might think they matter.

Again, lucky to be at

the University of Michigan
in a metropolitan area,

which is one of the most
concentrated communities of

Arabs outside of the Middle
East, Arab Americans,

many of you probably know,

over 300,000 in our metro area,

and this is this and LA are

the largest communities of
Arabs in the United States.

And I got you know,

fascinated by how
people on the outside,

especially after 9/11
see Arabs as monolithic.

People from within the

community understand
that this is one

of the most diverse
communities in the world,

you know, whether we're
thinking about race,

whether we're thinking
about religion,

whether we're
thinking about class,

and have been very
grateful to be

able to work with

that community and to write
about that community.

And then a couple of years ago,

I got pulled into

this problem that my friends in

science and engineering
focused on,

which is why was the
federal government

investigating Chinese
American scientists.

And sort of from that place
where I was like, Okay,

I'll help you proofread
your letter to Congress,

you know, All right,

this is really crazy.

Something important is going on

here that we need
to pay attention

to have become very
active around,

you know, advocacy for
Chinese American scientists.

But even more than
that advocacy for

understanding that China and
the US are two really large,

important countries,

very important differences and

diversity within
those countries,

and yet we are sort of careening

down a path where
we try to make,

take the most cardboard
cut out version of

people from each country

and sort of put it
against each other.

And so very grateful now to have

the opportunity to lead

the Liberthalgal Center
for Chinese studies and

to try to bring my expertise
as somebody who studies

American politics into this
US China relationship.

Thank you. So we could spend

a lot of time having
panelists talk about

their perceptions of what are

some of the major
problems we're seeing in

the US and globally with

racial inequality and
social injustice.

What I've asked
them to do a little

different is to help us think

about from their perspective,

what should be on the
strategic agenda for change?

What do they see as some of

the most promising
policy changes,

system reform changes that
are going on that will

address racial inequality
and social justice issues.

And start with A,

and we'll get their
thoughts on that.

And maybe we'll feel

free to banter with
each other if you like.

I'm going to be really short.

Democracy is the most important
structural reform and

structural Institutions
of democracy

are the most important thing
that we need to defend.

The more I study China,

the more I understand that

authoritarian practices are not

just practices that
other people have,

they are practices that
we have here at home.

And if we do not resist
them for everybody,

for voting rights, for
African Americans,

ballot access for
people in rural areas,

reliable rule of law
counting of ballots.

If we do not protect these
institutions of democracy,

we can't get to any of

our other concerns
about social justice.

Can I build on I think
democracy is absolutely right.

I would say maybe
that there is no

Democracy without economic
democracy and that

there's no racial justice
without economic justice.

So I often hear racial
justice kind of very narrowly

defined as sort of
an agenda that asks,

what do people of color?

What do Black people,
do immigrants

need that other
people do not need?

And I think that's
the wrong question.

I think the question that
I ask when it comes to

racial justice is what
do people of color need?

And it turns out that
from that perspective,

people of color need
what all humans need.

They need good education.

They need healthcare,
they need housing,

they need schools,
all those things.

And somebody yesterday asked

Derek amilton about
his experience

working on Bernie
Sanders campaign.

And it was really
kind of funny seeing

this question of racial justice

play out with his campaign.

So there's one reporter wants
to asked him, you know,

what is your racial
equity agenda

and his response predictably,

and I think he was
correct, also.

What's to say, you know,
universal healthcare,

Medicare for all abolished.

Student debt, a green
new deal for housing,

all these very ambitious,

sort of universal programs.

And the media kind of destroyed

him for days after that saying,

Oh, you know, he
has no answer to

what racial justice
should look like,

or anything like that.

And it turns out that
most people of color in

this country are working people
and working class people,

and they need things that

are related to economic justice,

things like that.

Well, I'll take the theme

of democracy and disagree
with the two of you.

And so I want to say democracy.

I wrote a piece recently, well,

not that recently a
couple of years ago,

called death and democracy or

either democracy and death,
something like that.

And my concern as

a political scientists
there has been

and we're together here,

so there's been a proliferation

of of the crisis of democracy,

what happened to
the guard rails.

Oh, my God, Trump is horrible,

which Trump is horrible.

But my concern is it suggests

somehow that democracy was
working prior to Trump.

And prior to Trump,

there was Black Lives
Matter movement.

There was occupy, there

was immigrant rights
mobilizations, right?

Which spoke to the kind of

crisis of the basic things
that Mo is talking about here,

the kind of lived
experience in particular

of poor people and particular
poor people of color.

And so I worry when we
say we need to defend

democracy that we're
suggesting that we need to

defend a democracy
that existed in 2015,

which was not working for poor

people and people of color.

So democracy doesn't
work when we

see the kind of routine
killing of black people.

Democracy doesn't work, right?

When we see Flint not

having water or, you
know, kids of color,

not having the same
educational opportunities

or young people taking

on more student debt than
we've ever seen before.

And so I guess the
question for me is,

that we make a broader
argument about democracy,

about what is the vision
of democracy that we're

demanding and that we're
willing to defend.

And for me, it is
not the kind of

reinstitution or the guarding of

traditional Democratic
institutions that have largely not

supported an expansive

of justice and rights

in particular for
communities of color.

So, that's my first.

You want to banter.
So they're Okay.

But the second thing, I'll say.

And I took the question
also to be kind of

what's happening that we can
hold onto that's exciting.

And for me, what's happening

is I always say I'm kind

of interested in politics
from the margins,

the politics of resistance.

And all of those moments of

mobilization and movements
I just talked about,

it seems to me are
really opening up

a new type of discussion

about what should
be on the agenda.

We say for democracy,

I might say for policy Um,

policy advocates, policy
makers, policy students.

So when I think of, for example,

the movement for Black Lives,

many people would say, Oh,
that didn't work, right?

Oh, there's no
defund the police.

But people are talking
about policing, right?

They are talking about
what does it mean to have

a police budget that's

larger than the budget
for education, right?

People are starting
to think about

how do we use the framework of

abolition to think about kind of

concrete policy initiatives
that speak to a vision.

Of getting rid of kind

of carceral logics and
carceral institutions, right?

I would say that, in fact,

the mobilization that we've
seen from in particular,

young people over the
last we could say

the last decade has reshaped
how we talk about democracy,

both the things that
we need to defend,

like, you know, the guard rails,

but new guard rails, new ways

of thinking about
what is a functioning

Equal rights based
democracy look like.

And for me, that's
the exciting part

of where we are right now.

It may not have delivered
the exact wins that we want,

but they may have
done something,

I think, more important,

which is to expand how we are

starting to think about
what we can expect,

what we want, and
what we're willing to

defend. So I'll stop there.

I'll piggy back. And
talk about democracy

in a different
perspective and that is,

I think we need to think about
what democracy means for

different constituencies
because it

doesn't look the
same for everyone.

An example I'll give you
from the research that I've

done when I started

conducting interviews in the
South among Black gay men,

It was between the
years 2002 and 2004.

And one of the things
that was happening during

this is the second
Bush administration,

and one of the things
that was happening

politically is a push
for marriage equality.

HRC and other large
gay organizations

were lobbying Congress and
for marriage equality.

And has Marriage equality

will come as no surprise
to many people,

was not on the top of the
list for Black gay men in

the South or say or
Lesbian women, either.

On the top of that list
was housing insecurity.

Employment discrimination.

And so there was this
mix match between

a larger politically
white queer organization

and kind of on

the ground grass
roots community based

black and brown queer
organizations about

what democracy meant for these
different constituencies.

So I think that there
needs to be an alignment

about what democracy means

because it doesn't mean
the same for everyone.

Based on power, based on class,

politics, and so
on and so forth.

And I think one of the things

that I think needs
to happen more is

and the panel before us had
a discussion about this when

we talked about the
relationship between

the academy and communities.

There needs to be
more inclusion of

more grassroots
organizations and

more high powered organizations

that have the platforms

and the ear of
politicians like HRC,

and that's a whole other
conversation we can

have about what is
needed on the ground

because my access to marriage as

an institution may benefit

me because I'm of a
certain class position,

but that may not be what I need,

you know, because
I can't get a job.

Based on some other kind
of identity category.

So I think racial justice

looks different for
many people as well.

I have a certain perspective

growing up as a working class.

I call it People call
it working class.

I would say we were
the working poor.

You know, seven people

growing up in a one
bedroom household.

That's the lens through
which I arrive at

a place like Michigan
sitting on this panel.

That's very different
from someone who

is has the benefit of
generational wealth.

And so we need to think about

these intersections

very differently,
depending on region,

depending on class position,

a lot of different metrics
and not just a kind of

monolithic lens. Thank you.

Can I come back? I mean,

again, I mean, I
think this everything

that everybody else has
said is so crucial.

I think it's so crucial to

understand that one of
the reasons we're having

this conversation
about democracy

now is because people who were

protected or privileged
by the democracy

we used to have are now in
fear of losing some of that,

and that is why we are
also concerned about it.

I am totally there.

There's a there is

an important debate
if you move out

of the United States about
countries like China.

I would just not even
countries like China,

which has managed to in 40 years

of economic reform
eliminate extreme poverty.

And we don't take that
very seriously in the US,

because, well, how
do they measure it?

And, you know, just because,

you know, they've achieved this,

but people still there's

still lots of
inequality in China,

and all of that is true.

But the deal that the
Chinese government

has made with its people is

we will give you a better life.

Don't bother us about
how we give it to you.

I think that as
social scientists,

but also as people,

political actors need to

learn from China and countries
like China about how

you address deep poverty and

social inequality and lack
of social opportunity,

as opposed to just accept
that in our country, clearly,

I mean, I think every person on

this panel is committed to that.

We cannot do that without

also understanding the type

of government that
undergirds it.

Thank you. So we

know and especially
in academic settings,

we understand that there's
key frameworks and

evidence from social
science research,

critical race theory,

history that have revealed

very convincingly that there
are structural factors and

system factors in the
perpetuation and codification

of racial inequality and
socioeconomic inequality,

and that includes through
law and public policy.

I'm taking moderator
prerogative here.

I'm going to out a question to

my colleagues related to

something that I'm
working on right now,

which is the push

the increasing pushback primarily
from state legislatures

on the teaching of

divisive concepts such
as critical race theory,

structural, racism
and inequality,

banning of DNI
initiatives, et cetera.

So I'm just wanting
to get reactions from

my esteemed colleagues here
about what we're seeing.

And I'll say again,

I'm doing research
on this right now.

There are ten states
already and more

in the works that have passed

laws banning these concepts.

Most people think it's
happening in K through 12.

But in higher ed and
public institutions

of higher education
regarding divisive concepts,

and there's a whole
another group are banning

DNI, etc, et cetera.

So I would be interested
in your reactions to this.

So avi and I had the pleasure of

being on the list of
band authors in Florida.

So I know.

Someone texted me and said,

Oh, my God, you've been banned.

I'm like, What are
you talking about?

And it was fascinating to me.

I was like, I didn't
know I meant so much.

And I was, you know,

the New York Times
picked up the story,

and, you know,
then it was a rap.

And these media All
these media outlets

started getting in touch

with me wanted me
to do interviews,

and I actually did three,

and one of the ones I
did was democracy now.

And I didn't mean for I was,

you know, asked to
be on the program,

and, you know, they
asked the questions.

And one of the questions
was, you know,

what did I think
about, you know,

D Santas policy and
so on and so forth.

And one of the things
I said went viral.

And I didn't mean for it.

But I said, you know,

DeSantis has said that

African American
studies, I'm sorry.

Black queer studies lacks

intellectual there's no

intellectual content
or something,

and I said the only
thing that lacks

intellectual content
is the governor.

Because he doesn't know
anything about anything.

And specifically, Black Chris

studies or Black
people from what

I can tell because he also

doesn't have a degree in
African American studies.

But let me back up a little bit.

I think one of the things
that the left fell asleep on

years ago when it looked
like for a while we

were going to keep electing
a Democratic president,

and the right also thought
that as well until

Trump they focused
on the local level.

Hmm. So conservative voices.

And this is not a thing
against conservative voices.

I think it keeps us all I

think the back and forth
keeps us all honest.

But there's a particular
kind of conservatism.

But I think started getting

elected to local school boards.

And getting involved at the
local and community level,

That people weren't paying
attention to so that

by the time that someone like
Donald Trump gets elected,

it's a wrap for us all

in terms of certain
kinds of progress we've

made in terms of what
gets taught in schools,

you know, I am a product
of a public school system

that taught me nothing about
the history of slavery.

The only thing I got in my
high school high school,

and this is in the 80s high
school about slavery was that

it happened And
then we moved on.

And so it wasn't until
college that I realized,

oh, there's this more
complex history.

About how slavery happened
as an institution.

And to think that now

there's legislation has
been passed that suggests

that K through 12 students
can't even learn about

a historical fact because
it's triggering is absurd.

So I think the threat
that we're facing now

is a lack of
historical knowledge

being passed on to the next
generation of young people

and students that is going to

be devastating to our democracy.

Mm hm. Because if you don't
understand that past,

there's no way that you
can forge a future.

And for me, as someone

who does research on
and teaches and now

as an administrator about

these issues of race and
class and sexuality.

It's disconcerting to me to
watch our institutions of

higher Ed pander to
the legislature,

watching those three
women presidents

testify in front of that
committee was horrifying to me.

Because it was such a setup.

But then to watch

our institutions give in to
it was even more horrifying.

So I think we have to
resist as much as we can,

because the space of
higher ed, I think,

and the right knows this is

the last bastion of the
possibility of democracy.

That's right.

Thank you.

I'm just going to say detto.

Yes. And just a couple
of other things.

One is just to say, you know,

I would even take
us back further to

the infiltration of the local
as the right wing strategy.

Again, it's not bad or

good depending on your
politics, for me, it was bad.

But if we think
about the tea party,

that that emerges from
a strategy of taking

over the local and eventually

electing tea party
candidates into office who

can then mobilize and structure
a national agenda, right?

The right has always, I think,

been very smart about

understanding where there are

possibilities for
growth and control.

That's one thing,
I would say, too,

I worry that, in
fact, those of us,

and I'm in a blue state,

didn't take this
seriously enough, right?

We thought we were protected.

Oh, it's just Florida.

It's not just Florida.

It is in Indiana.

I think they recently just
passed legislation that said,

if, in fact, you don't present
two sides of an issue.

Now, an issue like slavery
doesn't have to sides,

but that you can be fired
even with tenure, right?

So there is both
the direct impact.

There's the signaling
and the chilling effect.

It will change even those

of us in Blue States who
are teaching students,

and we think they're amazing.

They have to go get
jobs in other places.

So it will have an
impact on what we do.

The third thing I'll
just say is as someone

who studies young adults.

And I think to Patrick's point,

which is exactly right.

This is a generational
warfare, right?

This is a moment of
what does it mean

when you teach in
particular young people,

but young white people

an accurate history
of this country.

And their ability
to then position

themselves relative

to a Democratic or
Republican Party, right?

I mean, that's what's at stake
for the Republican Party.

It was the same type of

framing after Obama
when, in fact,

they said, we would never see

another Republican president

again, which, of
course, we have.

But there are these
moments where,

in fact, what is in front
of us feels like it will be

Realigning the power
in the country.

And I think we have to
take this very seriously,

not in terms of just
what we are able to do,

but what does it mean for how in

fact we teach history
in this country.

Thank you.

So I would like to
echo all of that.

I've been thinking about maybe

more to the left to the
political spectrum.

Where kind of liberal institutions
fit into all of this.

And so your question, Paul,
Are we worried about this?

Should we be worried about this?

So my short answer
is absolutely.

As someone as an
academic pre tenure.

I'm personally very
worried about this.

I considered taking a job in

a state that is slightly
more red than Michigan.

And at a public university,

and one of the questions I
asked the provost was like,

is it smart for me to
take this position?

Like Will this state turn
the same way that Texas,

Florida, other places have gone?

Um, but it's interesting
just following sort of

how universities have responded

to some of these
kind of debates.

Just a few weeks ago,

there were people made waves
on Twitter and social media,

faculty in New York
State, faculty in Texas,

who have been either fired or

suspended for speaking out
against the genocide in Gaza.

Mm. And that is
not a right wing.

You know, Republican governor

saying that you need
to do that. That is.

Liberal Democrats in

higher education doing
that on their own.

And so I've been very
concerned about that.

I've also been concerned
for a long time

about how when Democratic

we can think about Clinton,
we can think about

Obama are in office,

DI can mean a lot of
different things.

DI can mean racial justice,

very redistributive policies,

or it could just be
window dressing.

And many Democratic

what they do is they
pursue policies

that actually create
more inequality

that actually make our
lives more difficult.

But they speak good language

related to diversity,
equity, and inclusion.

And so in the minds of a
lot of Americans, I think,

and Wendy Brown has written

quite a bit about this
fairly convincingly,

I think in the minds
of a lot of Americans,

they see a bundling between

DEI initiatives and
this rhetoric that

Democrats are often want to use.

With economic policies that

actually make their lives worse.

Wendy Brown, I think, even
ten 15 maybe 20 years ago,

was warning that if Democrats

pursued this path where
they talk about diversity,

but they actually make working

people's lives worse through
their economic policies,

there's going to be a pretty
significant backlash to

those diversity equity and

inclusion policies because
a lot of people just

don't understand sort
of the difference

between all these different
political agendas.

And so that's not
to say that Clinton

caused the right
wing attacks that

we're seeing now or that
Obama caused those things,

but they certainly
were complicit in

producing the situation
that we're in now.

Thank you.

Yeah. The only thing,

I agree with everything
that has been said.

The only thing I would add is

some scrutiny on this
concept of divisiveness.

If the concept of
divisiveness means we

need to protect young
people or older people

from tough questions that
you can't solve by yourself.

If it means, you
know, moral dilemmas.

You know, I think our position
should be you cannot be

human without confronting

without confronting
moral dilemma.

And what kind of a
world are you trying to

create where people are

protected from learning
about bad stuff.

It's a world in which you
are eventually told this

is this is the stuff

you can learn and everything
else, don't bother.

Okay. Thank you so much.

Time has passed quickly.

We don't have a lot left,

so I want to turn it over
to the audience now.

So I assume we have some
questions that have come in.

So Katrina and
Kellen. Thank you.

Thank you, Paul. Thank you
all so much for being here.

So a question we received is

the type of work you
all do is very hard,

and I have no doubt
personally exhausting.

What advice do you have for

students and other scholars of

color who are motivated

to work in the
arenas of politics,

policy, and racial justice.

All right. I'll go. Don't know.

I was that is not my answer.

One of the things that I
have found. One is, um,

Yesterday I was listening

to the first session

and I think it was
the first session,

someone brought up joy.

And I do think that
there is a way in

which when we talk

about all the difficulties
and challenges,

it feels depleting, which
is absolutely true.

But, you know, the
idea of in struggle,

you meet people that you love,

who nourish you,
who you care about.

I'm here next to a dear friend,

Mary's there, you know,

to say that as we join
collectively, do good work,

you meet good people and

you feel like you're
a better person,

or they help hopefully
make you a better person.

But the other thing I would
say is at least for me,

I have never contain my
work to the academy,

meaning I am deeply

invested in doing work
that is meaningful to

organizations and people
and activists who

have a vision of struggle
outside the academy.

Just very quickly. I don't
want to take all the time.

I have a survey project

called the Gen Ford
Survey Project.

We survey 3,000 young

adults with over samples
of young folks of color.

And I do this, and
we do this work one,

because it provides
us with data.

And as social scientists,

we think data is important,

but also because we do
because we want to support

the work of movement
organizations to

think in complicated ways about

both what they're asking

for and also how
they're organizing.

So we recently just
published a report

with the movement
for Black lives on

how Black people
imagine public safety.

Right? So if we go beyond

just the framework of
defund the police,

how do they think in
complicated ways about

the need to feel safe

but understanding that
they don't trust,

and they actually fear
the police, right?

And so how can we map that out?

And it seems to me that in doing

that type of work, right?

You you build relationships,

you extend yourself
outside the academy.

You feel like the work is
meaningful and that there are

organizations who can kind
of push the work forward.

So I guess I would just
say to think broadly

about who your
collaborators are and

the reason you're kind of in
the arena doing work because

I think if in fact you can

make those types
of relationships,

you will feel good in the end,

even though you're exhausted,

you'll feel like you've
done the right thing.

Oh, me.

So I became dean August 1, 2020.

That's all I need to say. And
I am what the search firms

that do searches for
Dems and provost and

all those presidents
call reluctant leaders.

Because I didn't
want to do this.

And who would you want to take
on an administrative role,

especially at this moment,

but even then in the
middle of global pandemic

and post George Floyd

and protests and all the things

that was going on
in that moment.

And I look back at
that time and realized

that I was in a deep
depression during all of that,

but about six months in,

I had to give a report to

the provost all Dean
about what you've

accomplished and
what's your strategy

your goals for the coming year.

And when I looked
at all the things

that I had accomplished
just in six months,

by just sitting at home,

being on 10 hours of Zoom.

I realized that I was

the right person at the
right time for the job,

even though I didn't want it.

I was probably the
right person for

the job at the time
that I got it.

And looking at that list
of things that I had

accomplished did bring me
joy because people asked,

how are you enjoying
being there.

I said, There's no joy?
What are you talking about?

But seeing other people's
lives being transformed

by the smallest of things that I

was able to leverage
as Dan did bring joy.

So my advice is and it may

sound cliche is lean into

the thing that you're
most afraid of. Mm hm.

Because you never know the
impact that your leadership,

your activism, whatever
the case may be,

the impact that's going
to have on communities

that you want to serve and
that you want to help elevate.

And now I can, four
years in, I can say that

More things bring me joy.

Yes. It's not a joyful job,

but more things bring me joy.

And I take solace
in the fact that

because of who I am and my
framework for leadership,

I'm able to do

some transformative things
while I'm in the role.

I have I have a chronic illness,

but I had that chronic
illness and it's, you know,

worst manifestations,

basically make it
very difficult for me

for about 15 years
of my career to

do anything that I was
supposed to do well.

And I came out of
that experience,

realizing that You know,

if you always measure yourself
by what you should do,

you'll always fall short.

You know, the world, the work
that is there is too big,

you know, for anyone to do.

It's probably, again,

coming back to this
idea of humanity,

good for us all to
be a little bit

more humble about what
it is we could do.

Um, And so, once I,

you know, didn't come
to it easily, you know,

sort of was pulled
to it, kicking

and screaming, you know,

realized that's, you know,

this is what I have.

This is what I can do. I'm much

more grateful these days

about being able to
do anything at all.

And, you know, I think that
it has been a You know,

I see so many of my
colleagues who are

doing fabulous work and

so many people outside
of the academy,

who are doing fabulous work,

but they keep getting bogged

down because they know there's
so much more out there.

And I think we just,

you know, has as humans
have to tell ourselves,

you know, This is what we can
do. This is what we can do.

And, you know, and trust,

you know, that when you
have more capability,

you will do more.

When the situation gives
you the opportunity,

you will take it, and that's
really what I think Patrick,

when I listened to
you talk, right?

I mean, that's you know,

you didn't ask for
the situation.

It came to you, right?

And then it gave you

the possibility to
do things that maybe

you didn't realize you

know needed to be done
or could be done.

Oh, my turn. No, I

second to everything that
everyone has already said.

Injustice, in many ways
thrives on precarity.

And in a precarious environment

with a very minimal
social safety net,

I think a lot of us
worry about sort of

speaking out for political
causes or you know,

being too radical because
then what consequences

will we face at work or in

other kind of spaces
and things like that?

I think just seeing

activism from the last
really ten years.

I mean, occupy
Black lives matter,

and now the protests
that we see on

campus for Palestine
happening weekly, not daily,

in some cases, there

are a lot of opportunities
for bravery,

a lot of opportunities
for courage,

and if more of us
are fighting for

racial justice and
racial equity,

they can't take all of us down.

It actually does make
us safer when more

of us step up and fight for
things that we believe in.

Thank you.

Thank you.

We ensure our focus
on racial justice is

expansive enough to
include a global context.

Relatedly, where do you see

intersections as they relate to

broader conversations on
multi directional solidarity

within racial justice movements?

Av questions fireat

We often are very quick to say,

you know, people who work on x,

they're very consumed by x.

I know they're consumed
by X. That probably

means that these other things
aren't important to them.


And we don't give others
a chance, I think,

in sort saying, I
identify you with

X. I think that X is

not open or not

sympathetic or maybe just
doesn't care enough about this.

I'm not going to reach out.

Right. And you know,
as I think, you know,

we will say, I mean, people are

so much more diverse and
different from that.

If you start from the premise

that I want to understand you,

I don't just want
you to get you to

do what I think is important.

Right. And I think
it's a very logical,

you know, you are consumed by

something that's what
you're going to work on,

of course, you know.

And so you often don't have

necessarily the space to
reach out, and that's okay.

You know, you do
what you can do.


You know, we can
make it easier for

us all to reach out
by sort of, you know,

and the person who sort of

extends their empathy or their
desire for empathy first.

I mean, I think the, obviously,

the benefits from that

really are really changing
movement changing,

life changing, all of
those things. Yeah.

It's. It's all you.

I feel like let me just

go not because I want
to go in front of you,

but because you have done

such an important
work of putting

Gaza into the conversation and

I don't want that to
fall only on you, right?

And I do think that
part of what I have

learned is that the framework
of racial injustice,

anti Blackness, white supremacy,

seller colonialism,

travels, even if people aren't
able to travel themselves.

So, in our survey data,

we note that Black people
are much more likely

to express concern about

this administration's
position on Gaza.

Not because they've
gone to Gaza,

not because they
fully understand

that the condition of
settler colonialism there.

It's because, in fact, they
recognize racial injice.

I think we could say the
same and it's not the same,

but the concern
about Haiti, right?

And the condition of
people in Haiti and

the lack of engagement

from the US government
and thinking about Haiti.

So I do think there are
ways in which those of

us who have an opportunity
either in the classroom,

or outside of the classroom in

the political work that
we do or supporting

others can begin to expand

our framework again in

thinking about what
is a racial justice,

an international,

global racial justice
framework look like.

That is not to smooth out or

to ignore really
important differences

or to say that we don't always

understand all of the nuances,

and there are always nuances

in different parts of the world.

But it does mean that
to Patrick's point,

we should lean in to building
on what we understand

here and trying to assess
how it travels elsewhere.

Whether it is Gaza,

whether it is Haiti,

whether it is Ukraine.

If in fact, we suggest that

we are committed
to racial justice,

it cannot just be racial
justice in the United States.

It has to be a kind of broader,

more global commitment to
racial justice. Now turn.

That was beautifully stated.
There's a long tradition

of what used to be
called Third World is

third world solidarity
between left movements and

racial justice formations
in the United States

with the Global South and
the rest of the world.

And my own political
kind of consciousness,

the kind of earliest
moments that I remember

in my life were protesting
the war in Afghanistan,

protesting the war in Iraq.

And that was really important in

my own sort of consciousness,
my own trajectory.

And for a long time
after those movements,

anti war movements sort of

died down here in
the United States,

I was pretty worried that

it would actually
never come back.

I think there was a
definite decline in

connections between
the United States

and the rest of the world
in our social movements.

But in the last few months, I'm

actually not worried
about that at all.

I think we're reclaiming
a lot of that energy

because racial justice cannot

be limited to the United States.

The United States is not

just a random country
in the world.

The United States is the
only global superpower.

It is an empire. It maintains

colonies all around the world.

And so the position
of the United States,

if we're thinking about
racial equity as Americans,

we actually can't just be

limited to the borders
of the United States.

We need to think
on a global scale.


Great. So this question

comes from one of our
amazing MPP students.

What advice do you have
for policy students hoping

to advance racial justice
and equity, for example,

reparations for Black Americans

in a space where
progress has often been

limited by bureaucratic

and perceptions of
political feasibility.

Well, I'll speak as an Estrela.

Part of my taxes in Evanston

and the sale of pot
I'm not selling pot.

I want to be clear
we're filming this.

I'm not selling art of my taxes.

And the sale of legal marijuana

goes toward reparations for
Black residents of Evanston.

And I think I'm

a part of two communities
that has happened.

So Evanston and Mary,

maybe correct me if I'm wrong,

but I think Evanston
was the first city

in the US to have this.

But another my home state is
North Carolina and Ashville,

also now provides reparations to

Black communities visa
property ownership.

I think that's a start.

And I also think that again,

going back to my story about

how became a dean and
how reluctant I was,

I think it's also important
for us as policy students,

as scholars, academics to get

involved at the community
levels in which we live.

Joining school boards,
running for God forbid you,

running for office
for City Council,

so that policy is
affected at that level.

Because I don't think Evanson is

sort of an anomalous situation

because of its history
of political activism.

But I think a policy like
that like reparations

for Black folk couldn't have

come about had not certain
people been on City Council.

I think it's important
for us to be

in these positions whether
we want to be or not

because it is hard work so

that we can effect change
because being around the table

does matter because
Even if we're not

the ones that actually
lead to the actual change,

maybe we can hold the door
open for someone else to come

in to join us around the table
and take up that mantle.

I think it's really important
that we stay engaged and

not just leave it up to
everybody else to do that work.

I just want to say to the
young public policy students?

First of all, congratulations.

You have the most amazing dean.

You should be happy.

But I'm going to go back to

where I started earlier,
which is to say,

I feel like young activists have

expanded the framework through

which you should be
doing your work.

So what does it mean to

produce a kind of
policy agenda that

moves forward in
abolitionist framework

and commitments, right?

What does it mean I was talking

with Derek yesterday about this.

Baby bonds? I love baby bonds.

But how do we think about

baby bonds and relationship
to racial capitalism?

Is it a way to
circumvent and keep

capitalism in place
and tolerable,

or should we be directly

thinking about what are
the policies or how do we

even frame baby bonds as

a way to address
racial capitalism?

How do we think about
participatory budgetary policies,

and the ways in which you
can allow community limited

even autonomy to decide on what

the investment looks
like for their spaces?

Just think that
there are ways in

which young activists have

provided us with new frameworks

for thinking about policy work.

Now it is incumbent upon

young policymakers to reimagine

what the policy field
might look like.

I'm looking at Mary because
Mary said this great thing

yesterday about We often kind of

lean back in to tried
and true policies

because we have
data on the right?

How do we produce cutting

edge commitments to
new policy agendas,

where we don't have data,

but where we are
testing them out.

And I just think that this is
one of those moments where

you can shift the policy agenda.

And I think you have
a leadership team

that would support that
type of risk taking that is

embedded in hearing and

partnering with
communities who will

be on the front line of

receiving those types
of changes in policy.

And actually
connecting that point

to this internet the
international question

that came before this also.

Many policies are not tried

and true in the United States,

but are tried and
true elsewhere.

And so you've been looking
beyond the US borders

for examples of what
we can do here.

I heard this argument a lot
with Universal Healthcare.

Well, we don't have
the data on what

universal healthcare
will look like.

Well, there are actually plenty

of countries in the world.

Canada, Western Europe, that
have universal healthcare.

I've lived a good part of
my adult life in Brazil.

Brazil is a country that is

very similar to the
US in a lot of ways,

but it is much
poorer than the US.

And in Brazil, there's

universal health care
free at point of service.

And so I multiple times
as an American have

gone to get healthcare in
Brazil while living there.

And as an American, I go with

my ID cards and my credit
cards and bank statements,

try to get all the
financial information

that I can to them.

And the first time I went
in, they just laughed at me.

No, we don't handle anything
related to money here.

You just come in, tell
us what you need,

and we provide you
with healthcare.

And it's not a perfect
system by by any means,

but it's definitely tried

and true compared to what
we have here in the US.

Thank you.

Yeah. Yeah. Hard support.

I mean, I think there
are so many models

out there that we, you know,

limit ourselves by just

looking within our own borders

or just looking
within our own group.

And the other thing
I would say is I

would I I've been

part of the Ford School
for a long time.

I love the focus on
policy analysis that

we have and the
commitment to analysis.

I would also say that
we could do more

to encourage people to

be creative about
solutions because,

you know, if you're
creative about solutions,

nine out of ten of
them are going to

be sort of dumb,
but that's okay.

You know, the way

you figure out whether
it's dumb or not is

sort of to work through
the implications

and the support and you know,

who it would help, who
will help, et cetera.

And I think we're sometimes
afraid to have a space

where students can be just be

creative about what
if we tried this?

Or what are the building blocks

that I would need if I wanted to

start sort of tearing policies

apart and putting them
together in different ways.


We have time for one
more question. Okay.

Can Black queer, and

more broadly racial liberation

occur within current
public policies?

How much should the most
marginalized expect the system

of public policy to provide
a politic of liberation?

I really.

I just have never thought about

a policy politics of
liberation and policy.

But uh huh. Well, I mean,

I think a politics of

liberation will undoubtedly
involve policies.

Uh, Oh, go ahead. Can
you read it again?

Because it was a long question

and I had a lot of
different parts.

Okay. Yes. You put two together.

There was a I had two questions.

Okay. Okay. Can Black queer,

and more broadly
racial liberation

occur within current
public policies?

How much should the most
marginalized expect

this system of public policy to

provide a politic of liberation?

It's the second one
that throws me out.

But one of the things I will

say in answer to
the first question,

the possibility is there?

Yes. I think one of the
Biggest questions right

now around policy and Black life

is Black trans women and
the rate of their murder,

access to health
care, and so on.

And that is driven by policy.

And there are so many
states that are passing

anti trans bills that

are actually making
the situation worse.

It was already bad,
but it's making it

worse in terms of
access to health care,

but also just protecting

their lives when they are

murdered and the
people are caught.

And so I think

that there's lots of
organizing around this.

Particularly in Chicago. Mm hmm,

and other parts of

the country, Grass
Roots organizations.

And we also have folks in
Washington who are also

advocating for a
change in the policy.

My partner right now,
my husband is in

DC right now meeting
with I know.

This is crazy because he's
not a politician, but anyway.

Se he just texted me last
night. He's on Capitol Hill.

He just texted me last
night a sign outside

of that woman from

Georgia's office. I
won't call her name.

That says bathrooms are

for men and for women.
Follow the science.

And it's that kind of
idiology and diodysy that

has deadly impact on

trans people and Black trans
women and men specifically.

And so there is a possibility,

but we have to be vigilant

around these
legislative policies

that are really impacting

and making people
more vulnerable

to crime to homelessness and
jeopardizing their lives.

So again, there is
the possibility,

but we have to stay vigilant.

Can I just say really,

I think everything
you said is right,

but not about liberation.

So I think all of that

is absolutely right in
terms of keeping people

safe in terms of
respecting their dignity.

But when I think of liberation,

I think there are systemic
changes that have

to happen way beyond policy.

And I don't want to discount

the importance of safety,
liberation, agency,

and power as a way

as moving us towards a
path towards liberation.

Right. For me, there's
a tension there,

a systemic tension. But yeah.

I really regret that in
the role of moderator,

I'm also evil timekeeper,

so our time is up.

There is so much more
we could talk about.

I want to thank all of you

and the audiences for
joining us today.

And for those who are here,

please join us for
a lunch out in

the Great Hall, right now.

But thank you so much.

Please join me in
thanking our panelists.