Historian Elizabeth Hinton is an incredible asset to our nation. She is not only an American Historian, she is an associate professor in the Departments of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Her research focuses on the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in the twentieth-century United States.
Elizabeth’s current scholarship considers
the transformation of domestic social programs as well as urban policing after the Civil Rights Movement. Her book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, named among the New York Times’s 100 notable books of 2016, Hinton examines the implementation of federal law enforcement programs beginning in the mid-1960s that laid the ground-work for
the mass incarceration of American citizens.
On Thursday, November 1st the Milwaukee Art Museum held an Art and Social Change Lecture with Curtis L. Carter, at Marquette’s Weasler Auditorium. There, Elizabeth and Curtis had a deep conversation. They talked about police brutality awareness, injustices, and what we can do as a community to begin to tackle this issue.
Elizabeth brought us back to 1964 where much of the police brutality started. She mentioned a 15 year old, black, unarmed boy who was shot down by police and how history continued to repeat itself there after. We see these acts of racism today and the question is what can we do? Where do we start?
She described urbanized space criminalization and how that plays such a role in the issues at hand. For instance, there was a 7 year old black boy arrested for “trespassing” on his school’s playground after school hours. Elizabeth explains how doing such things make it hard for people in the urban community to believe that great things will happen to them. Instead of people growing up knowing they have opportunities, they feel targeted and essentially believe that if they’re going to get picked on by the police, they might as well give them a reason.
This conversation hit home for me because we see these situations happen all the time. We see injustices happen in our communities daily. Everyday kid’s mentalities are impacted due to the things they see happen to innocent people. They see dehumanization and subconsciously they grow up with the effects of it.
During the conversation, Elizabeth also made the point of policing and how the definition of it changes contingent upon the area. For an example in many suburban areas, officials police the neighborhood to protect it. Meanwhile in a many urban areas policing is waiting around for criminals to do wrong.
Hinton’s points are non argumentative, in my opinion. There are so many issues that need to be discussed. So much work to be done. She says that our strongpoints, as a community, need to be in re-entry programs and believing in a second chance. We have to learn how to support those coming home from prison and we all have to be willing to help.
It’s clear that there’s lots of work to be done and because of that, I am appreciative of Author and Historian Elizabeth Hinton’s phenomenal works. With more conversation and awareness, more displays of injustices, and more knowledge about the system itself, we can make a change.