“young men’s compromised legal status transforms the basic institutions"
June 26, 2014 4:51 PM   Subscribe


 
That's the University of Wisconsin's Alice Goffman, I'm proud to say!
posted by escabeche at 4:54 PM on June 26, 2014


The USA cannot both be a beacon of justice and the world's leading jailer.
posted by wuwei at 5:23 PM on June 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


I sincerely hope that Goffman's groundbreaking work gets the same kind of prolonged, national attention that has recently been lavished on Thomas Piketty.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:06 PM on June 26, 2014


It makes me realize how easy I have it, being white.
posted by triage_lazarus at 6:28 PM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had a real mixed race group of friends when I was in my troublemaking phase and us white kids might get a stern lecture/talking to if the cops caught us but it was a given you did NOT want to be one of the black kids and get caught. This was like a flashback to my teen years.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:45 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm adding this book to the top of the to-read stack.
posted by rtha at 6:46 PM on June 26, 2014


As an aside, Goffman didn't come out of nowhere: she's pretty much the closest you can get to academic royalty: her father was Erving Goffman, Benjamin Franklin Professor of Sociology at Penn and one of the preeminent sociologists of the 20th Century. Her mother is Gillian Sankoff, Professor Emerita of linguistics at Penn. And her adopted father is William Labov, Professor of linguistics at Penn and one of the most important linguists ever.

So, it's no surprise that she's good at this social science thing.
posted by The Michael The at 6:56 PM on June 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


So right after I posted that comment I got on my bike because I needed to be over on the East Side for something, and while I was cruising down Mifflin Street I saw Alice Goffman eating dinner at an outdoor table, because it's a really nice night here in Madison, and I stopped my bike and said, Alice Goffman, you're on the front page of MetaFilter right now! and she said What's MetaFilter? and I tried to explain it but sort of did a bad job so I'm just gonna send her a link.
posted by escabeche at 7:11 PM on June 26, 2014 [35 favorites]


I will try not to fangirl if she shows up.
posted by rtha at 7:13 PM on June 26, 2014


Good stuff. Got that David Simon vibe going on.
posted by valkane at 7:26 PM on June 26, 2014


“It just feels morally strange to talk about my own experiences when a whole community is dealing with violence and getting arrested,” she said in an interview in a Greenwich Village cafe this month, after giving the keynote address at a conference at New York University. After all, she added, “I could always just leave.”
posted by rtha at 7:29 PM on June 26, 2014


I have always wondered specifically about this. Thanks so much for the link and author.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:41 PM on June 26, 2014


I tried to explain it but sort of did a bad job so I'm just gonna send her a link.

Tell her it's where stunningly good-looking and incredibly intelligent people share links on the internet!

Also, as someone who has occasionally ran from cops, I was hoping for more tactical advice.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:52 PM on June 26, 2014


well obviously she's not going to give *that* out for free, you gotta buy the book! think the hood taught her nothing?
posted by young_son at 10:18 PM on June 26, 2014


The whole situation is fucking heartbreaking and really deserves more attention from people.
posted by empath at 10:54 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


The system is broken, we have SWAT teams setting up as private corporations and a whole swath of society that has been trained to know that it won't get fair treatment.
posted by arcticseal at 5:41 AM on June 27, 2014


Just purchased the book on Amazon ($17.01 new, for those curious). Thanks for the link!
posted by kuanes at 5:47 AM on June 27, 2014


Goffman's work is interesting and very important, but it is frustrating for me to read this article and know the reaction I would get if I tried to get my politically conservative aquaintances to read it. The nicer ones would sympathize with the tough conditions but they'd all totally dismiss the underlying message. "Well if they didn't break the law they wouldn't have these problems!"
posted by Wretch729 at 7:24 AM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can tell you what reaction it got from conservative relatives on Facebook. Crickets. It means nothing to them because they don't see it.
posted by empath at 7:59 AM on June 27, 2014


^Plenty of jokes about Facebook algorithms and why they wouldn't see it, but I'll be serious for a moment.
For a lot of White people, the primary interactions they get with Blacks are sensationalized and demonized stereotypes. For a lot of Black people, the primary interactions they get with Whites are through the police and other threatening authority figures, or lifeless bureaucratic red tape. You can see how this might create some problems of perception.

This may be a bit of schadenfreude on my part, but I actually enjoy watching people struggle to re-examine their worldviews, even if it involves some growing pains. Maybe because of how dishearteningly easy it is for people to dismiss something like this practically anthropological examination of an entirely different culture interwoven between their own.

Or maybe it's too anxiety-provoking for some people to think about. You'd be surprised how strong that "I can't be wrong about this! My identity depends on it!" part of the mind is.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 8:25 AM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


I watch a lot of World's Blankiest Blank shows. And it's so obvious to me that Black folks seem to get the short end of the stick in traffic stops, and rousts and stop-and-frisks. We were watching a traffic stop where the cop had stopped an Asian lady for not having her kid in a seat-belt. She was screaming at the cop, attempting to bite him, and being all cray-cray. He stood there bemused, gave her a warning and let her go. I don't know if it was because there was a kid in the car or what, but I doubt very seriously a black-lady would have been given the same wide bearth.

Driving down Peachtree on the north side of town, the little municipalities, Brookhaven, Chamblee, etc, commonly have a cop with a black person pulled over. Hard to say if it's because it was a legit traffic thing, or just DWB. This is THE major street through town that isn't a highway!

Goffman's work is interesting and very important, but it is frustrating for me to read this article and know the reaction I would get if I tried to get my politically conservative aquaintances to read it. The nicer ones would sympathize with the tough conditions but they'd all totally dismiss the underlying message. "Well if they didn't break the law they wouldn't have these problems!"

I'm sort of amazed at what small-potatoes these offenses are, but then we get into the Broken Windows Theory of policing, where if you catch folks on the small stuff, the larger stuff takes care of itself.

The saddest thing is that sometimes the fleeing...it can get a brother killed. And that's the truly scary part of all of this.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:28 AM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


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