George Floyd, Eric Garner, Professor Dyson discussed on Brian Lehrer

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

The Georgetown sociology professor and Baptist minister with a new book, written as a collection of letters to victims of racial violence, as if they had not been killed. There's a letter to George Floyd a letter to Briana Taylor a letter to Ahmed Armory and Emmett Till and Eric Garner. The book is called long Time Coming Reckoning with race in America, and It includes parts in which Professor Dyson speaks directly to White Americans as well as all the other parts. We will also get his take on some stories in the news. Like he had an article on Agrio on Tuesday that defends Joe Biden, at least so far from criticism over the diversity of his Cabinet picks. There's also breaking news on that, just in the last few minutes, biting his top tapped Susan Rice. To be his top domestic policy adviser. Ah, position that does not need confirmation by the Senate. Professor Dyson. Always great to have you welcome back to W N. Y C. Always great to be here, my friend. I have since moved on to Vanderbilt University, So I'm glad to join you from that great institution as well. And I apologize for missing that transition. That's not your fault. And I think whoever Biden pick picks for his Cabinet will pale by comparison in American history to the police killing of George Floyd this year. So do you want to start there? Why did you want to write a letter to George Floyd? And why a book of letters as an organizing principle? Yeah, well, the epistolary form, you know, well known, saying fiction with the color purple or in sonic literature with knives, writing a letter. Two people in jail. Um, you know, in hip hop, I thought that I would appropriate this form to try to articulate the sense of both. Intellectual acuity around grappling with the historical genealogy of white supremacy in this culture, starting from the get go from slavery down to the present. And link that to the emotional outpouring that inevitably is occasion when we talk about the relentless murder of black people, either by white vigilantes. Or by police. People who bear the badge, The gun, the Taser and the baton of the state, and the imprimatur is well on. We're caught between those two forces constantly and repeatedly, and so I wanted to think out loud. About these issues. I don't want to talk about these figures and further objectify them. In a way I wanted to speak to them Commune with them. Talk to them. As you said, as if they were here as if they could hear to allow us as we visit grave sites to think about our lives. We literally know that those folk can't hear us, but we talk Nontheless and I wanted to Create that kind of intimacy and kinship with these figures, So I write to Eric Garner and address George Floyd. So what did you write to George Floyd? Well, the letter is addressed to Eric Garner and what I say to George Floyd in the book. I talk about George in the book, and I talked so much about you know the parallels between Eric Garner And what he suffered what he endured there in Staten Island. The horror of the infamy of Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who took him down and then I draw a parallel, and when he claimed to look 11 or so times I can't breathe. And then to see George Floyd repeating the same thing in the sequel to that film, and I wanted to say to Mr Garner and to George Fluid that the horrors of your death Have inevitably led you to be conscripted into the war against white supremacy. Usually martyrs have intention to use their death to court death. As a means of their vocation to underscore ideals, noble aspirations for which they are willing to die and potentially sacrifice, blood body and limb. For a higher goal and a deeper purpose. And in this case, many of these figures were killed, not knowing that their deaths would somehow highlight. And elevate issues after their death that they couldn't get resolved during the time they live. So how we make use of their deaths is a measure of their market him so I wanted to talk to George Floyd about the horrors of his death, the lethal limits imposed by white supremacy and by policing that is out of order. That refuses to acknowledge the humanity of black people. And how that death that signal sacrifice of life inspired an entire social movement and certainly the greatest protests against racial injustice in terms of number that we've ever seen. One victim of a police killing, who's lesser known who you draw attention to in the book is Elijah McClane. Can you tell us some of what you write to Elijah McClane and introduce him to some of the listeners who may not have heard anyone say his name out loud before? Yeah. Elijah McQueen is a young black man 23 years old, who died last year at the hands of the police in an especially tragic case. You know he was a young man allegedly potentially on the spectrum. A young man who was highly sensitive, One of his co workers said he walked as if a gold orb Surrounded him at all times. He played his violin to the pigeons and birds to calm them. He was a sensitive, sweet soul 23 years old with a ski mask on walking home from a convenience store. He had anemia and therefore he needed Hey, got cold rather easily. And therefore had the mask on somebody called the police thinking well, he's probably not a real problem. But just in case I wish White brothers and sisters who do that might think twice. Not because they're intense, are not good. Their intention is not redeeming. But because the consequence so often for black people is lethal. And in this case, it was here was a man who weighed less than £150 accosted by police people to a three of them..

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