Black Lives Matter Movement discussed at Adams State

(03-03-2016)

"The Politics of the Black Lives Matter Movement - Policing the Police" was the subject of a well-attended panel discussion held at Adams State University Feb. 17, during Black History Month. Organized and moderated by Dr. Lisa N. Nealy, assistant professor of political science, the discussion explored different perspectives presented by Paul Grohowski, Adams State Chief of Police; Dr. Robert Demski, professor of psychology; Dr. Richard Loosbrock, associate professor of history, and Dr. Ben Waddell, associate professor of sociology. The event was sponsored by the Department of History, Anthropology, Philosophy, Political Science, and Spanish.

Dr. Lisa Nealy reviews recent events that spurred the Black Lives Matter Movement, which began on social media.
Nealy opened the discussion from a theological-political perspective, citing Genesis 1:1 and Civil War amendments to the U.S. Constitution that grant the Negro in America basic human rights. She also reviewed recent events that spurred the Black Lives Matter Movement, which began on social media in response to police killings of African Americans. "Their constitutional, civil, and human rights were indeed violated," she said, introducing a series of photos of unarmed African Americans killed by police over the last decade. Nealy then talked about how the movement has grown and influenced public policy. One impact has been efforts to reform police training and procedures.

Dr. Ben Waddell discusses the implications of racial cartography.

Grohowski expanded on efforts to "restore professionalism" in community policing and develop relationships that make a difference. He noted the Police Executive Research Forum recently revised and issued thirty guiding principals, the first of which is "the sanctity of human life."

Demski covered the topic of stereotype threat, which he said can result in self-fulfilling prophesies. He said someone may become anxious and behave differently if he or she feels others are stereotyping them. He noted new studies show 75 percent of blacks feel they are treated worse in various social situations, not only by law enforcement. He added the use of body cameras by police increases self-awareness and has reduced the use of excessive force by law enforcement and inappropriate behavior by citizens.

Loosbroch presented a historical perspective on the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter Movement. "The fact that the Black Lives Matter Movement exists is very telling," he said, explaining that many erroneously believe that civil rights and desegregation have been fully achieved.

Waddell discussed racial cartography, showing color-coded maps of the nation and cities that indicate the racial makeup of various neighborhoods. "The wealthiest areas are white. Ninety percent of wealth in the U.S. is held by whites. Segregation still exists," he said. He also discussed the nation's changing demographics, pointing out that by 2060, whites will represent only 43 percent of the population, whereas in 1960 that figure was 85 percent. "If we don't think carefully about these issues, we will be disinvesting in the future of our country," he concluded.

By Julie Waechter