What Now?

That’s the question. What now? As in, what has happened NOW? What do we DO now?

We are in the middle of a long, hot summer in a series of hard, complicated days.

I do not have much else to say about police violence, race, racism, bias, and inequality that I haven’t said before.

The names change. The conditions rarely change at all.

When the police shot and killed Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA I did make a point on social media about the risk black entrepreneurs in the informal economy take when they move about the world, selling cigarettes or CDs. That commentary fed into a few stories, including a discussion today on an NPR station in Ohio.

I have also continued to discuss how inequality and the social policy designed to redress inequality create markets for all kinds of predatory services. An interview I did with Marketplace last semester recently aired. My friend Matt Reed did some additional commentary there and I am grateful. One of the great things about that interview was that the producers read an early copy of Lower Ed and didn’t laugh. That is nice.

I am also asking questions of media reports about research on race, racism, and police brutality. I don’t question the math of the study. But, I do ask that if the point is to put social science research in context, it is worth noting if these data can answer the question presumed to be answered in the exhaustive write up in The New York Times. I’m not the only one asking those questions. It is a discussion worth following.

It is also a discussion that is part of some of my other professional service. As a member of the steering committee for SocArXiv, a social science (more sociological) complement to NBER (the database that issued the aforementioned paper by Roland Fryer), it is worth considering how the public can not only access our research but also how they can make sense of it:

And, as a new member of the editorial board of the ASA’s ContextsI obviously believe that there’s a place for common sense, accessible engagement with academic research.

Other than that, I continue to hope that one day the “what now” will be different when I wake up one morning. I don’t know if I can process too many more days that are just as devastating as the days before it.

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