NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 158

In “The Apartheid of Children’s Literature,” published in The New York Times in 2014, writer Christopher Myers cites a 2013 study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin showing that only 93 of the 3,200 children’s books published in 2013 were about Black people. A recent study, “Who believes in me? The effect of student-teacher demographic match on teacher expectations,” published in the Economics of Education Review in 2016, reveals that “non-black teachers of black students have significantly lower expectations than do black teachers,” that “[t]hese effects are larger for black male students and [non-black] math teachers,” and that Black teachers have equal expectations for their non-Black and Black students. More recently, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (pnas) in March 2017, “Language from police body camera footage shows racial disparities in officer respect,” confirms that “Police officers speak significantly less respectfully to black than to white community members in everyday traffic stops, even after controlling for officer race, infraction severity, stop location, and stop outcome.” At the time he shot and killed 32-year old Philando Castile in July 2016, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez was a young man in his late 20s. Looking at the dash cam and other footage of the shooting, it is clear that Castile’s killer had no mental script in which a Black man could own a gun and not be a threat. Narrative relationships formed through and with television, cinematic, historical, and other narrative characterizations of Black men as savages, brutes, and thugs were the likely emotional triggers that preempted his human response to this family. Before, during, and after the killing, Officer Yanez displayed no empathy for Castile, for his girlfriend, nor for the traumatized 4-year old child in the backseat his bullets narrowly missed hitting, a child who will undoubtedly need caring and professional support to become re-rooted. The jury’s endorsement of Yanez’s demeanor suggests that racism’s uprooting is widespread and unabated. For African-Americans, the public slaughter of men, women, and children by police and by civilians has become an ongoing roadside holocaust. On the one hand, these killings are consistent with popular understandings of the ways in which non-Whites are endangered by racism. 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