The confluence of pandemic conditions and protests in cities and towns throughout the US and even in Europe in response to the murder of George Floyd has created a space of rupture in normal governance. Covid-19, a human-made disaster wrought of perverse nature-society relations, exacerbated and exposed the longstanding disaster of racialized capitalism, resulting in an eruption of festering societal wounds long ignored by governing bodies. The unprecedented groundswell of bottom up social action has pushed city governments as well as firms, universities, and other organizations to acknowledge how governance-as-usual embeds racialized injustice to create white privilege. The opening of possibilities creates space for researchers across the country to write to mayors regarding the myriad problems revealed by critical scholarship, and to make concrete recommendations to redress systemic racism in housing, transportation, business development, employment, education, and smart-city planning. Critical research revealing race-based blockages to opportunity signifies, however, that sector-specific recommendations can improve urban life, but alone do not address entrenched racism. Lack of progress regarding reparations at the federal scale suggest that the time may be ripe for reparations to Black Americans at the city scale. Indeed, city governments rose to counter Trump’s irresponsible approach to the pandemic; at this conjuncture, calls from researchers across the country could prompt a bottom up approach to reparations given lack of progress at the federal scale, as well as meaningful sector-specific changes.
Nancy Ettlinger, Department of Geography, Ohio State University: https://geography.osu.edu/people/ettlinger.1
For more on Antipode’s “Conjunctural Insurrections” series – an experiment to amplify voices often unheard and invisibilised in politics, daily life, and academic discourse – see https://antipodeonline.org/2020/06/23/conjunctural-insurrections/