A&S initiative launches with webinar about abolishing police

By: Kate Blackwood,  Cornell Chronicle
Thu, 07/23/2020

The Politics of Race, Immigration, Class and Ethnicity (PRICE), a new initiative in the College of Arts and Sciences, will bring together scholars, researchers and the public for conversations that just might make everyone a little uncomfortable.

“Difficult but critical discussions will be the bread and butter of PRICE,” said Jamila Michener, co-director of the PRICE initiative and associate professor in the Department of Government, where PRICE is based.

“We want to talk about the things that need talking about, especially when they are hard or polarizing or difficult for most people to wrap their minds around,” Michener said. “Holding space for difficult conversations is important pedagogically and, more broadly, it is vital for democracy.”

PRICE will hold its first event – a webinar, “Getting Free: Race and Abolition,” a panel discussion on the abolition of police – July 27 at 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; registration is required.

PRICE aims to expand and enrich research, teaching and engagement on the topics of race, immigration, class and ethnicity.

“These themes are intrinsically interconnected. Together they constitute the essence of our society,” said Sergio Garcia-Rios, assistant professor of government and Latino studies and PRICE co-director. He studies race and identity with a focus on Latino and immigrant identity.

Most pressing, said Michener – who studies poverty, racial inequality and public policy – is that “there are very many people in the United States and across the world whose lives are affected by the substantive issues that PRICE centers on.”

This initiative also aims to create community through scholarship.

"PRICE is animated by certain shared goals and premised upon certain shared values,” said PRICE co-director David Bateman, associate professor of government, whose research focuses on dismantling institutions of social and political domination and civic exclusion.

“But perhaps the most directly relevant,” he said, “is our shared recognition of the importance – for pedagogy, research, and social and political life – of engaging with these issues.”

Panelists for the webinar will be:
    •    Derecka Purnell: a human rights lawyer, writer and organizer. She works to end police and prison violence by providing legal assistance, research and training to community-based organizations through an abolitionist framework;
    •    Beth Richie ’79: a professor of African American studies and head of the Department of Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She studies the ways race, ethnicity and social position affect women’s experience of violence and incarceration; and
    •    Alex Vitale: a professor of sociology and coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College. He has written extensively about policing and consults police departments and human rights organizations.

Russell Rickford, associate professor of history in A&S, will moderate.

PRICE is planning more activities, including an event organized around the 2020 elections.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.


  A line of police with shields stands against protesters