Black pregnant Americans are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white pregnant Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. And according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black infants are nearly four times as likely as white infants to die during birth. “I had no idea how much this problem was hiding in plain sight,” the co-writer and director of the film, Monique Matthews, told the American Independent Foundation. “Prior to coming on board, I had a cousin that I reconnected with and I asked him about his little sister, who was my younger cousin. And he told me that she passed away and she was like, 28, and I was like, ‘How did she pass away in the hospital?’ And he was like, ‘She gave birth. And then, you know, I was excited and I called back and I got a call that my sister passed away.’ And I was devastated.”Matthews said many of the women she spoke with at screenings of the film told her their heartbreaking pregnancy and delivery stories.
“I had no idea how much this problem was hiding in plain sight,” the co-writer and director of the film, Monique Matthews, told the American Independent Foundation. “Prior to coming on board, I had a cousin that I reconnected with and I asked him about his little sister, who was my younger cousin. And he told me that she passed away and she was like, 28, and I was like, ‘How did she pass away in the hospital?’ And he was like, ‘She gave birth. And then, you know, I was excited and I called back and I got a call that my sister passed away.’ And I was devastated.”
Matthews said many of the women she spoke with at screenings of the film told her their heartbreaking pregnancy and delivery stories.
A review of Peter d’Errico’s Federal Anti-Indian Law: The Legal Entrapment of Indigenous Peoples, an indictment of a legal system with the unflinching goal of stealing as much land as possible.
Despite its confusion and contradictions, federal Indian law — in d’Errico’s terms, “anti-Indian law” — has long had an unchanging purpose. By destroying Native individuals and communities, it has helped the rich and powerful scoop up vast lands and resources. This landgrab is accomplished in part because what’s typically called federal Indian law is hardly a systematic set of statutes. Instead, according to d’Errico, it’s what mid-20th-century U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter called “a vast hodge-podge” and covers all areas of Indigenous life and activity with a massive array of U.S. court decisions, laws, executive orders and agency regulations that have piled up over the years in a disorderly and improvised fashion.
Kent McNeil, a professor emeritus at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, calls d’Errico’s Federal Anti-Indian Law “a frontal attack on the whole field of American law pertaining to Indigenous peoples.” He lauds it as a “must-read” for those wanting to understand what motivates any claims that the dispossession of Indigenous people has been legally sound. Similarly, Robert Maxim, a senior research associate at the Brookings Institution and a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal citizen, hails the book as “important and enlightening for all people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.”
Throughout the chaos, the application of U.S. law to Indigenous people has had an unflinching goal: theft.
Police killings are of course not the only fuel for the mass protests. Beyond the deaths of Americans such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor lie countless other large and small indignities—the massive stop-and-frisk program practiced by the NYPD until a court order declared it unconstitutional, the needlessly aggressive execution of warrants—that also fall most heavily on people of color and the poor.But many of the most egregious police abuses are avoidable, and the anger over them has created an opportunity for real police reform. The nation must jettison paramilitary approaches to policing. That means moving beyond shallow critiques of “police militarization,” most of which focus narrowly on federal programs allowing the transfer of military equipment to police, and looking at subtler and more entrenched aspects of police culture as well.Wesley Lowery: The breaking pointTo be sure, federal military-surplus transfers like those through the Defense Department’s 1033 Program do little good, and much harm: Police departments obtaining used Army filing cabinets at cost isn’t cause for concern, but there’s no earthly reason for small-town cops to wear military fatigues, ride around in mine-resistant Humvees, or carry bayonets. Studies suggest that police departments that receive such equipment see no measurable improvement in officer safety or crime rates, but greater quantities do seem to correlate with higher rates of officer-involved shootings and reduced public trust.Federal programs that allow the provision of military equipment to domestic police departments are only part of the problem, however. Although tightening the restrictions on such programs would be a good first step, the training that police recruits go through must also be reformed.We’re living in a dark moment: President Donald Trump’s threat to send in active-duty federal troops to quell protests further blurred the line between policing and the military. But some hopeful signs have emerged.For one, some progressive police leaders are questioning the value of paramilitary academies. In Washington State, for instance, former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr, now the head of the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission, has pioneered an academy-training approach centered on a vision of police as guardians, not warriors. Rahr calls her training method “LEED,” for “Listen and Explain with Equity and Dignity.” Instead of an emphasis on yelling and standing at attention, her recruits are trained to engage others in courteous conversation, and are evaluated during role-play exercises on their ability to listen, show empathy, explain their actions, de-escalate tense situations, and leave everyone they encounter “with their dignity intact.”
An account of how cultural anxieties about race shaped American notions of mental illness
The civil rights era is largely remembered as a time of sit-ins, boycotts, and riots. But a very different civil rights history evolved at the Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Ionia, Michigan. In The Protest Psychosis, psychiatrist and cultural critic Jonathan Metzl tells the shocking story of how schizophrenia became the diagnostic term overwhelmingly applied to African American protesters at Ionia—for political reasons as well as clinical ones. Expertly sifting through a vast array of cultural documents, Metzl shows how associations between schizophrenia and blackness emerged during the tumultuous decades of the 1960s and 1970s—and he provides a cautionary tale of how anxieties about race continue to impact doctor-patient interactions in our seemingly postracial America.
A recommended read on the history of how the medical field responded to the civil rights/Black power movements by diagnosing Black men as schizophrenic.