Category Archives: Current Events

An Open Letter to UVA President Teresa Sullivan

Dear President Sullivan:

I write to you as a 2001 alumna of the University, as a former Jerome Holland Scholar, Echols Scholar, and as a fall 2016 Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. I also write to you as an Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisville, a public university founded in 1798, whose campus is dominated by a central Rotunda modeled after the one that Jefferson designed for UVA. My life as a scholar and artist in the south has been a very happy one — but I’ve encountered contradictions that I’m sure you would recognize. For the first six years of my career at Louisville, I walked to my classes each day beneath a 19th century memorial obelisk for the Confederate dead. The statue was removed by the city last year, and while there was some local protest, I never feared for my safety on campus.    Continue reading

Postmortem: Jane Austen and Repealing the Affordable Care Act

By Susan Celia Greenfield

For now, it appears the Republican Senators’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act is dead. But key provisions (like cost-sharing reductions for insurers) remain in doubt, Vice President Pence has said, “We won’t rest until we end […] ObamaCare,” and Trump still wants to sabotage the law.  In July, the vast majority of Republican Senators were prepared to do just that. Continue reading

The Blue Force Field: A Justice System that Assumes Impartiality Fails Us All

By Justin Campbell

“The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 of hindsight. The calculus of reasonable must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments-in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving-about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation. The test of reasonableness is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application.” -Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Graham v. Connor (1989)

“Lower courts were asked to use three questions to measure the lawfulness of use of force: First, what was the severity of the crime that the officer believed the suspect to have committed or be committing? Second, did the suspect present an immediate threat to the safety of officers or the public? Third, was the suspect actively resisting arrest or attempting to escape?” -Ken Wallentine, “How to Ensure Use of Force Is “Reasonable and Necessary” and Avoid Claims of Excessive Force” Continue reading

Hamburg, and My Issue with Riot Porn

By Natasha Lennard

We call it riot porn — it’s a pretty self-evident term to describe videos of riots and protests, viewed and shared for enjoyment. They contain a few standard aesthetic elements: fire, smoke, black bloc participants, and confrontation, preferably in which the protesters appear to have the upper hand. They give little room for context, relying instead on the idea that we know an insurrectionary spectacle when we see one. Between online denizens of the far left, eager to share in what revolution looks like, riot porn gains swift social media traction and memefication. Continue reading

At a Crossroads: The La Jolla Crossroads Shooting

By Lisa Brackmann

On Sunday, April 30, a white man said to be despondent over his financial situation and a recent breakup with his girlfriend opened fire on a birthday pool party in a San Diego apartment complex. 49-year-old Peter Selis had sat in a lounge chair by the pool until the host of the party came over to invite him to have a drink and something to eat. He responded by shooting the host, the man whose birthday was being celebrated, twice. He then called his ex-girlfriend and made her listen to what he did next: continue to shoot, while sitting in the lounge chair, “his beer in one hand and his gun in the other,” according to one witness. Continue reading

Legacy of Racism: The Tree and Land as Symbols of Love and Hate

By Vanessa Fabien

At the Association for the Study of African American Life and History Conference a few years ago, I spoke with Michelle Duster, Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s great-granddaughter.

“What were Ida B. Wells’s thoughts on the environment?”

Duster replied: “She was too busy protecting people from getting lynched to think about the environment.” Continue reading

All Hail Daddy! Or, How Obedience Trumps Masculinity in the GOP

By Ani Kokobobo

Former FBI Director Jim Comey must have felt pretty good watching Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Holding on to one’s integrity looked far better than renouncing it. If the Comey testimony broke television — even turning the middle-aged former FBI director into an unlikely and tepid, middle-aged sex symbol for an America so starved for public decency that it almost finds it attractive — then Jeff Sessions’ invited nothing but derision and distaste with his muted, self-pitying, and Trump-cowering performance. Sessions was obviously happy playing second violin to the key protagonist, The Don himself, and provided little in the way of testimony or entertainment, while Comey was a protagonist in his own right. GOP loyalists sought to discredit Comey, calling into question his masculinity, but did not seem to hold Sessions to the same standards. These contrasting responses call to mind how fluid and relative masculinity has become during Trump’s presidency. Continue reading