Haven’t posted anything since the beginning of the term. I had a feeling this would be the busiest year of my professional career and I wasn’t that far off. So it’s caused me to neglect a range of non-essential forms of writing. With that said, here’s a few updates:
- What should the Democrats Do? Thanks to Jelani Cobb, I got a chance to participate in a New York Times debate about what the Democrats should do given last week’s election results. For me it’s pretty simple–use the state’s rights philosophy to push for progressive reform at the state wide level, making Voting Rights as important to Democratic constituencies as the 2nd Amendment is to Republican constituencies, and then stop using shame as a mechanism to guilt people into voting in off-year elections. It’s unlikely the Democratic Party will do any of these three things. They won’t fight for progressive referenda because they don’t quite believe in progressive legislation–they are more of a center-right party than they are a center-left party. The more progressive referenda passes, the more demands it places upon the party. The more demands placed upon the party the more they think they’ll have to actually live UP to those demands and actually govern according to them. Similarly although the Democratic Party is more supportive of voting rights than the GOP, the Democratic Party doesn’t want voting to “become a thing” because the more voters they have the more competitive local elections become. The more competitive local elections become, the less likely local elected representatives will be able to hold on to their seats. And shame works far better as a technique of governance than anger. What’s going to have to happen somehow is that an institution outside of the two-party system is going to have to pursue these ideas.
- “Transition with a Slow Fade”. Over the past few months Mark Anthony Neal and I have been working on a special issue of SOULS dedicated to the work of Richard Iton, who passed away last year. The issue will be out soon. Thanks to Barbara Ransby, Prudence Browne, Lily Palladino, Alison Swety, and all the contributors. Knowing Richard, he probably would’ve been very upset that we devoted an entire issue to his work, because he was as humble as he was productive! But the essays represent a testimony of sorts to the profound contributions he made in so little time.
- Knockin’ the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics. I’ve been working on a book manuscript developing some of the themes I wrestled with in Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics. It’ll be coming out soonish with Punctum Press. I hope to say more about this soon, but the thing I am most excited about is the fact that Punctum has a radical approach to digital rights. When the book comes out you’lll be able to purchase a hard copy if you’d like (and may have some news about this as well), but you’ll be able to get the entire PDF for free. With this project I’m more interested in having the ideas “take” and in supporting the Punctum project as a new model of how publishing can work than I am in collecting royalty checks (as small as they might be). Thanks to my literary agent Shoshana Crichton, to Tamara K Nopper who edited a draft of the work, to Eileen Joy and the kind folk at Punctum, as well as a host of others to be named later.
That’s it for now. I’ll try to be better going forward. Do me a favor if you could? Leave a note in the comments. Some of you I haven’t heard hide nor hair from in a minute.