Monday, September 29, 2014

Lessons from Ferguson

The quote that has been the subhed of this blog for years is Robert Nozick's "Only the refusal to listen guarantees one against being ensnared by the truth." In a world in which people of color feel mistreated because of their race, supported by mounting evidence supporting those claims, ignoring or simply waving away those problems is just that sort of deliberate ignorance. Someone who comes to public policy from this perspective needlessly undermines their own message because their worldview doesn't comport with the realities faced by many people.

That is why I was so excited about a recent event at Cato, and was even more pleased with how the event went.  The event was called "Lessons from Ferguson," and it featured a number of voices across the spectrum dealing with race and American policing.

Moderated by my colleague Tim Lynch, the panelists included Professor Alice Goffman, author of On the Run, a sociological narrative about her observations in a black Philadelphia neighborhood; Ethan Brown, author of Snitch, a history of the infamous and widely misunderstood "Stop Snitchin'" movement; Neill Franklin, retired Baltimore police officer and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Lauren Victoria Burke, journalist and creator of the blog Crewof42.

I highly recommend you watch the event in full. I enjoy many Cato events, but it is rare when we have a collection like this. I'm not sure anyone on the dais (besides Tim, of course) would self-ID as libertarian, but these are problems everyone should recognize regardless of party or ideology.

Of particular note, I found Neill's comment about his run-ins with the police as a black child in Baltimore, as well as his admission that, even as a black police officer, you just become accustomed to treating black kids differently. That is what institutional racism is all about. 

It's all worth watching as I thoroughly enjoyed each presentation. I cannot say enough about how glad I am that Cato hosted it.

bellum medicamenti delenda est

DISCLOSURE: As most people who read this know, I work at Cato, but this is my personal blog. I wasn't asked to promote this event, it's just a topic that is near and dear to me and I'm so happy we're bringing in people--scholars, practitioners, and writers, including people of color--who can talk about what is going on in America. Also, I make a brief cameo near the end.

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