Monday, April 29, 2013

New Article: Tryon P. Woods in Social Text on postracialism and punishment

Tryon P. Woods has published "'Beat It like a Cop': The Erotic Cultural Politics of Punishment in the Era of Postracialism" in Social Text (Volume 31, Issue 1, Spring 2013, pp.21-41).  From the beginning of the article:

My concern in this essay is with how those of us involved with problems of black revolution—that is, with the crux of what it means to liberate humanity—can further develop a critical stance that deals honestly with the ethicopolitical context in which black art, black performance, black social movements, and black popular culture find expression.  I am, in  other words, interested in configuring the critical study of hip hop within an accounting of the materiality of antiblack sexual violence in which the  modern world is grounded, especially as hip hop emerges through the transmutation of the state’s terroristic repression of black revolution in the 1960s and 1970s into the sexualized violence of the present prison industrial complex.  My focus, then, is on how the context of a world in which, since the dawn of the African slave trade, black people are structurally positioned outside the human family, and its claims to integrity, honor, and visibility can inform how we read black expressive cultures.  I suggest that rigorous adherence to this context is rare in cultural critique. 

-- Nick J. Sciullo

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Copyright Fair Use Panel

Hip hop and copyright law are intimately connected.  Professors K.J. Greene and Andre Smith have argued that copyright law acted in the past and continues to act to stifle freedom, creativity and originality in hip hop music.  A symposium is being held at Thomas Jefferson School of Law on April 12, 2013, that will serve to enlighten all on recent changes in copyright law, particularly the fair use doctrine.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Will Hip Hop Solve Mass Incarceration?

We've all heard about the evils of mass incarceration, made perhaps most salient by Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  Reactions to the book have largely been positive and you need not look far to find a review of this important text (, New York Times, Boston Review, International Socialist Review, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Yale Daily News, Washington Lawyer, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, and my own in the Texas Law Review Dicta are but a few of the many reviews).  Savvy Internet searchers that you are, I am sure you've also come across numerous reading groups, discussion board threads, and local meetings organizing people around the important issue of mass incarceration.  These are all great.

But, now what?  Alexander suggests we need a mass movement to end mass incarceration.  Russell Simmons and Dr. Boyce Watkins have joined forces to call on the White House to address mass incarceration.  They remain relatively quite about their plans however.  We do know that several hip-hoppers are involved including Lil' Wayne and Nicki Minaj. and have both reported this story.

Questions remain... What should we expect from Simmons and Watkins and their associated stars?  Will their work reach the masses who will need to join in the effort to end mass incarceration?  When will we have a better idea what Simmons and Watkins want and what their strategy is for achieving it?  Simmons and Watkins are surely doing important work, but we'll need to wait and see what becomes of their efforts.

-- Nick J. Sciullo

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Criminal Justice in the 21st Century Conference

The Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development at the St. John's Law School is sponsoring a timely event regarding criminal "justice" in the 21st century.  The event will be held Friday, April 5th, 2013 at St. John's School of Law in Queens, New York.  The Conference Information is below:
Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: The Challenge to Protect Individual Freedoms, Civil Rights, and Our Safety

Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development
The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development

Co-SponsorsCriminal Justice in the 21st Century: The Challenge to Protect Individual Freedoms, Civil Rights and Our Safety
  • Society of American Law Teachers (SALT)
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
  • New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
  • Latino Justice/PRLDEF
Date, Friday, April 5, 2013
Time, 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Location, St. John's School of Law
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439

Criminal justice in the 21st Century confronts a combination of novel and familiar challenges. New technology and new legislation purport to redefine individual rights, such as the right to privacy or the right to bear arms, in the name of greater public safety. While the past decade boasted a record low number of reported crimes, prosecutorial and police power continues to expand. These issues raise a question of whether there is any legal, constitutionally sanctioned manner to balance individual rights and safety concerns.

This symposium provides a balanced discussion about pertinent 21st Century criminal justice issues. It weighs broader societal interests, such as safety and public order, against individual interests, including civil rights and civil liberties, privacy and autonomy. This symposium confronts these difficult issues with an open, informed perspective that fosters dialogue with an end towards positing practical and effective solutions.

Symposium Themes Include:
  • The impact of technology on individual rights, such as privacy and government regulation
  • The constitutionality of current police practices, particularly in NYC, with respect to racial profiling
  • The legal realities for juveniles in the criminal justice system
  • Evaluation and analysis of recent federal and New York State responses to proposed gun safety measures and reforms
  • Exploration of contemporary issues facing prisons
Featured Speakers Include:
  • Sen. Eric Adams, New York State Senator, 20th Senate District (Brooklyn)
  • Hon. Harold Baer, Jr., United States District Judge, Southern District of New York
  • Juan Cartagena, President, Latino Justice/PRLDEF
  • Hon. Sterling Johnson, Jr., United States District Judge, Eastern District of New York
  • Sen. Jeffrey D. Klein, Temporary President and IDC Coalition Leader, 34th Senate District (Bronx)
  • Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union
Continuing Legal Education (CLE):
The full-day symposium qualifies for 7 non-transitional CLE credit hours (1 ethics and 6 practice credits). No partial credit will be awarded. The CLE fee is $175. Hardship tuition reduction is available. To receive CLE credit, please complete the CLE Payment Form and return it as directed on the form.

There is no fee to attend the symposium, but registration is required. Please complete and submit the online registration form.

More Information:
Ms. Jordan K. Hummel '13
Symposium Editor
Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development
(718) 990-6074