Rights, Responsibilities, Power, Leadership, and the Purpose of Government
We began the semester with a consideration of current events, and all of those events persist today as we prepare for final exams. Everything we have been studying this semester about the structure, function and evolution of our government and political system is a reflected in the dramatic and distressing unfolding of events in Ferguson, MO. We will focus now on the events in Ferguson and similar episodes in New York in order to reflect on the issues being exposed and the role of the rulers and the ruled in addressing this history.
In order to begin to understand what has happened in Ferguson (and elsewhere), you must understand THIS. We will read this together as a class.
Now, to think some more, I recommend:
ABC News interview with Mayor Di Blasio*
NYPD: Power and Police Unions*
CT police working to regain community trust (audio & transcript)
NYPD Commissioner Bratton interviewed on CBS News (video)
Interviewed again by Scott Pelley (video)
"Police Killings Reveal Chasms Between Races" from the New York Times
“Fury After Ferguson,” Op-Ed by Charles M. Blow in the New York Times
“The Worth of Black Men” in the New York Times Magazine
#blacklivesmatter (story from NPR)
Ta-Nehisi Coates: A Racial Turning Point? (video)
* Added by request
All three branches are involved here:
Legislative: “Stop and Frisk” laws
Executive: President, Governors and law enforcement
Judicial: Grand Juries and indictments
All of our essential questions are relevant:
How is power distributed?
What are the rights and responsibilities of the rulers and the ruled?
What are the qualities of effective leadership?
What is the purpose of government?
As I read about and watch what is happening: the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson and the chokehold death of Eric Garner, the lack of indictments by grand juries in each case, and the subsequent demonstrations, I ask myself related questions:
How do power and privilege impact the relationships people have with each other as well as with institutions?
What does a just use of power look like?
Can equal rights be secured despite bias and prejudice?
What do YOU want to know? What questions do these events prompt you to ask about the systems in which we all live? about the history that we all share?
In our final exercise as students of American Government, we will try to answer these questions using this protocol and schedule:
7:00-7:45 TED: Mellody Hobson
7:45-8:00 first question drawn from class suggestions; question author will invite 3-4 other students to join him/her in the fishbowl; everyone else will offer input using Today's Meet Chat (for those not in the fishbowl to add to the discussion and make suggestions to those in the fishbowl)
8:00-8:15 second question
8:15-8:30 third question
8:30-8:45 fourth question
8:45-9:00 fifth question
9:00-9:30 discussion reflection and course feedback (see prompts below)
for further reflection, TED: Verna Myers