Forry and Micken Lecture Series on Racial Justice

"The Idea of Prison Abolition: Slavery and Its Legacy"

Tommie Shelby, Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy, Harvard University presented a lecture entitled "The Idea of Prison Abolition: Slavery and Its Legacy," on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

Abstract: Angela Davis and other leading abolitionist thinkers in the black radical tradition object to prisons on numerous grounds. One objection questions the legitimacy of the practice of imprisonment because of its similarity to, and historical connection with, practices of enslavement. In this lecture, Shelby critically engages with this influential objection. He highlights its power but also explores its limits, and he draws lessons from this engagement for criminal justice reform in the United States and elsewhere.

"The Misuses of Anger: Audre Lorde, Self-Hatred, and the Anger it Fuels"

Myisha Cherry, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of California - Riverside presented a lecture on "The Misuses of Anger: Audre Lorde, Self-Hatred, and the Anger it Fuels" on Thursday, April 20, 2023 in Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather.

Abstract: In this talk I consider and examine Audre Lorde’s account of and recommendations for dealing with self-hatred and anger. Instead of viewing Lorde’s solution as anger management, I read it as a form of self-empowerment that is a politically efficacious tool rather than an individualized self-help solution. I also think of ways in which anger born out of self-hatred might co-exist with anti-racist anger – yet make it incomplete and less powerful. Overall, I hope to show how Lorde’s thinking on anger, as well as other emotions such as hate, disgust, and contempt is much more complex than philosophers have assumed. I also demonstrate that Lorde offers increasing insights for thinking about the affective ways that oppression works, and provides various affective resources to resist such oppression in order for agents to thrive on their own terms.

"Restorative Justice"

Erin Kelly, Professor of Philosophy, Tufts University presented a lecture entitled "Restorative Justice" on Thursday, April 27, 2023, at 5:00 PM in 115 - Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall.

Abstract: Restorative justice is typically conceptualized as an interpersonal or second-personal reckoning with wrongdoing between two parties: a responsible party and a victim. Accounts tend to focus on acknowledgment, apology, and character change—work that the guilty party must do to reconcile with the victim. While personal change is an important element of restorative justice, this portrait fails to capture the community dimension of the practice. Restorative justice is worth considering as a community-based approach to justice with potentially transformative impact beyond perpetrator and victim. The radical idea that victims could heal together with the parties that injured them is realized through the cultivation of empathy and understanding between and beyond the most directly involved parties. Understanding the wide scope of restorative justice highlights its potential to address historically entrenched forms of injustice such as, in the United States, the longstanding mistreatment of Black Americans. Restorative justice integrates a reparative approach into the substance of interpersonal ethics. It is a fitting approach to criminal wrongdoing in a society that is deeply marred by slavery and its legacy of socioeconomic inequality, deprivation, and state-sponsored violence.