[-empyre-] in solidarity--an open call to our subscriber list

Cokes, Anthony anthony_cokes at brown.edu
Sun Dec 7 13:35:31 EST 2014

Dear Renate and Tim,

Thanks for the open call on this topic. Meant to respond last night. We
definitely seem to be in a strange zone of multi-layered disconnects at the
present dis-juncture. (In addition, I feel that somehow we've entered a
late 1980s - early 1990s time warp where the issues of race and urban
policing intersect - again). Is this the hangover from the alleged
"post-racial," a return of the repressed, or the distillation of years of
spiraling inequality?

We recently passed through a mid-term election where the Obama
administration seemed to be (mis)recognized as a prime symptom / cause of
the U.S. polity and economy's problems rather than attempting their
solution in some limited fashion (and against fierce and consistent
obstruction from the GOP, by the way). Portions of Democratic support in
the electorate stayed home, hence the loss of the Senate. Still, this
cannot completely explain the cluelessness of the e-mail you cite.

The lack of a concrete, palpable response from Obama & Co. to the recent,
ongoing epidemic of attacks by police on Black subjects (and the inability
of two recent grand juries to read the possibility of criminal police
liability in taking black lives) are truly lamentable. Certainly the
administration should know that "good news" about the general economy may
not even register for the less advantaged in this society and that recent
positive effects on the economy are still direly and unequally distributed.
(A lot of the wage rates for these new jobs are likely inadequate.)

I wonder if there's a connection between the unwillingness of those who
profit most from so-called economic improvements to recognize their recent
gains (which allows them to continue to attack Obama on other ideological
grounds), and the inability of the administration to speak / respond
productively to the concerns of the less privileged in this Ferguson,
Staten Island, Cleveland... catastrophe. Welcome to a contemporary

In solidarity,


Tony Cokes
Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Dept. of Modern Culture and Media
Brown University
155 George Street, Box 1957 (Rm. 205)
Providence, RI 02912-1957
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