Tag Archives: race


Video: From Economic Crisis to Economic Democracy

In honor of the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, who amidst other great accomplishments authored Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans in 1907, the Murphy Institute hosted a forum on Friday, February 28th to explore the stories, struggles and successes of workers who have taken control and bettered their lives through the cooperative history of African-American communities, and ask how we can apply those lessons to contemporary struggles locally and around the globe.

Missed the forum, or want to re-watch it? Check out video coverage from the event below:

We invite you keep this conversation going.

Join us at the bi-annual Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, June 9-11, 2017 in NYC.

If you’d like to deepen your study of economic democracy, consider enrolling in our fall course, “Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis: Work and Wealth in the Next Economy.” Please contact Rebecca Lurie, Program Director for Murphy Institute’s Community & Worker Ownership Project for more information: 212- 642-2080 or rebecca<dot>lurie<at>cuny<dot>edu.

New Labor Forum Highlights: Oct. 17th, 2016

NLF Editorial Board Member Adolph Reed starts this issue of Highlights with a pushback. While the increased attention to police brutality and the injustice of our criminal justice system is essential, Reed argues that the one-dimensional focus on race obscures an understanding of the “ immensely fortified and self-reproducing institutional and industrial structure” of the carceral state. An exclusive focus on racial disparities in the criminal justice system, he also contends, hinders the building of a broad coalition to upend it. This isn’t a new conversation. Yet it gets to the heart of a long-standing divide concerning “identity politics.” In 2010 we hosted a debate  between Walter Benn Michaels and Alethia Jones, usefully engaging this set of issues.

We’re also highlighting a recent article by New Labor Forum columnist Sarah Jaffe that illuminates a set of challenges to organized labor implicit in the tragedy of police killings of people of color. On the one hand, unions are called to stand up for justice, and in recent years, some have stood against police brutality and mass incarceration. On the other hand, law enforcement unions have a right to exist and to defend their members. This historic tension has bubbled up following the rise of Black Lives Matter. The Murphy Institute is hosting a forum on the topic later this month, and a larger two-day conference in April.

Table of Contents:

  1. How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence by Adolph Reed, Jr
  2. Identity Politics: Part of a Reinvigorated Class Politics by Alethia Jones
  3. Identity Politics: A Zero-Sum Game by Walter Benn Michaels
  4. Black Labor Organizers Urge AFL-CIO to Reexamine Its Ties to the Police by Sarah Jaffe
  5. Event: Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement Unionism & Communities Of Color Forum, October 21, 2016
  6. SAVE THE DATE: Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement Unionism & Communities Of Color Conference, April 28-29, 2017    

Photo by Gerry Lauzon via flickr (CC-BY)

Can the Bay Area Tech Economy Embrace Equity Before It’s Too Late?

Featured photo credit: SEIU-USWW

By Chris Schildt, PolicyLink

This post originally appeared at New Economy Week 2015: From Austerity to Prosperity.

Uber recently purchased one of the largest office spaces in downtown Oakland, California, with plans to move3,000 of its workers there by 2017. For a city facing a housing crisis and rapid displacement of Black families and low-income communities, many fear this act will accelerate gentrification pressures. It has also led to some cautious optimism for an opportunity to make Oakland a leader in what Mayor Libby Schaaf has called techquity: “fostering our local technology sector’s growth so it leads to shared prosperity.”

Tech companies can play a role in advancing an equitable economy, but they will first have to confront a deeply inequitable status quo. The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the highest levels of inequality of any region in the country, and it is growing at an alarming pace. Unequal access to business and job opportunities have deepened racial economic gaps – Black and Latino workers earn a median wage that is $10 an hour less than White workers in the Bay Area, and these racial inequities exist across all education levels. The tech-driven “innovation economy” can reverse these trends. But to understand how, it’s important to examine how the innovation economy works. Continue reading Can the Bay Area Tech Economy Embrace Equity Before It’s Too Late?

The End of Tipping?

The food & labor worlds have been abuzz with the news that acclaimed New York restauranteur Danny Meyer has eliminated tipping in his restaurants in favor of higher hourly wages for workers.

This comes on the heels of a similar trend in other cities: in Seattle, for instance, a rising minimum wage has led many restauranteurs to raise prices. Some restauranteurs have compensated by eliminating tipping from their restaurants; in other cases, patrons are choosing not to tip, sensing, begrudgingly or not, that their servers are finally being well-compensated.

A catastrophic disruption to the food service industry as we know it? Hardly. Labor advocates and consumers alike have been praising the trend — with some even arguing that it doesn’t go far enough. Continue reading The End of Tipping?

#CharlestonSyllabus Brings Context to Tragedy

How can institutions of higher education spread critical understanding of and context for significant current events? How can we use social media to become more conscious about race, about our history, and about how to be better activists, allies and participants in the civic sphere?

#CharlestonSyllabus is the Twitter hashtag started by Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and African-American studies at Brandeis University, in the wake of the recent tragedy in Charleston, SC. Prof. Williams sought to use the hashtag to aggregate “historical knowledge that frames contemporary racial violence and its deep roots,” inspired by the #FergusonSyllabus hashtag from last summer. From an interview with Prof. Williams by Stacey Patton at the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Q. Where is the #CharlestonSyllabus hosted, and what kind of measurable response have you seen so far?

A. It’s on the African American Intellectual History Society’s website. Since Saturday, when it went up, it’s had over 55,000 views, averaging 900 an hour. It’s gotten almost 20,000 likes on Facebook, 13,000 mentions and 28,000 engagements on Twitter. We’ve had a few trolls who’ve tried to hijack the thread with rants about how the Confederate flag is not a racist symbol but a source of Southern heritage and pride. But over all, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. By Sunday we had about 10,000 suggestions of books, articles, and other documents.

Continue reading #CharlestonSyllabus Brings Context to Tragedy

Pushing Through Doors: Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”

By Zenzile Greene

On the heels of the Spike Lee Retrospective being shown at BAM Cinematek through July 11th, I would like to present a piece I wrote up on assignment for my “Culture Through Film” class taken this past fall at the School of Professional studies. The course, taught by Professor Kelley Kawano, was developed brilliantly not only for the purpose of traditional Film History survey, but also towards the goal of turning a critical lens on the pervasive and myriad ways in which culture influences film and vice versa.

Over the course of the fall semester, we viewed and deconstructed a range of films from the Silent Era to the Hollywood Studio Era, to the groundbreaking independent films made by such pioneers as Irving Penn and Spike Lee. For several of our weekly assignments, we were asked to take one scene from a movie and analyze its use of one in a list of primary technical film elements, including editing, sound effects and direction.

For inspiration, I drew on the use of symbolism in Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” from a paper I wrote in the class “Mass Media in Black America” taught by Professor Arthur Lewin at Baruch in 2010. I was very excited to write up a brief analysis of the symbolic use of editing in one particular scene of this, one of my favorite films in Lee’s “Brooklyn Trilogy” series.
Continue reading Pushing Through Doors: Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”