World Policy Journal: Spring 2016

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Black Lives Matter Everywhere


Table of Contents

The Big Question: Is affirmative action necessary to overcome institutional racism?

Affirmative action, positive discrimination, preferential treatment, it goes by many names, but countries across the world rely on it to shrink the wealth and opportunity gaps that exist across ethno-racial lines. World Policy Journal asked four experts from New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, and Malaysia if affirmative action was necessary to overcome institutional racism.

“What will happen to all that beauty?”: Black power in the banlieues 

France, which has long prided itself on providing refuge to African-American artists and dissidents, has found it much easier to support minority agitation abroad that at home. Hisham Aidi shows how Muslim youth in France are looking to the Black Power movement in the U.S. for inspiration as they found their own race-conscious political organizations.

Anatomy: Race and discrimination

In countries around the world, minorities are disproportionately represented in incarcerated populations. World Policy Journal charts the demographics of the general population against the imprisoned population in the U.S., South Africa, England and Wales, Canada, Brazil, and Australia, revealing stark racial inequalities.

Black is a country: Building solidarity across borders

Racism transcends borders and so too must the fight against it, argues Kehinde Andrews. Too often, analyses of race are hemmed in by “methodological nationalism,” or the tendency to frame our thinking around the nation-state. Instead, Andrews says, the African diaspora should unite across boundaries and oceans to form its own country, one without formal demarcations and based on freedom and equality for Black populations.

Map Room: Ethnic divisions of London

Unlike many other metropolitan areas, where nonwhite populations form stark rings around a city, London at first glance may seem less geographically divided by ethnicity. However, a World Policy Journal examination of data from London’s 32 boroughs shows that nonwhites still suffer from differential treatment.

“Not blacks, but citizens”: Race and revolution in Cuba

When the Communist Party seized control of Cuba in 1959, it launched an anti-racism campaign. After only three years, the Party declared victory: Racism was over; everyone was equal. Despite the government’s embrace of a colorblind ideology, Devyn Spence Benson writes that Cubans, Afrocubanas especially, are still fighting anti-black discrimination and working to create “a revolution inside a revolution.”

Oppression must fall: South Africa’s revolution in theory

Students across South Africa have united not just to demand the end to rising university fees or the toppling of a statue but to reject the ruling party’s liberal capitalist project. T.O. Molefe follows the protesters and analyzes the effectiveness of the theories undergirding the ongoing youth movement.

How are they dying? Politicizing black death in Latin America

The protests that have emerged in the United States under the banner Black Lives Matter are similar to decades-old movements in Latin America. At the core of all this organizing, according to Tianna S. Paschel, is the same attempt to humanize black people. While those interested in inequality have tended to ask how black people are living, black rights movements across the Americas are demanding that society confront a more difficult question: How are black people dying?



Our issues, our struggles: Daniela Gomes and Janaya Khan

Janaya Khan, the Canadian co-founder of Black Lives Matter–Toronto, and Daniela Gomes, a São Paulo-based journalist and scholar, are part of the same fight to end anti-black racism. They’re just doing it some 5,000 miles apart in different countries and languages. But in their conversation with each other, it became clear that they face many of the same challenges in overcoming their countries’ naïve narratives on race.



Foreclosed City: A Barcelona neighborhood unites to fight evictions

Since the Great Recession of 2008, hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have been forced from their homes. For over five years, photographer Guillaume Darribau has documented the Spanish neighborhood hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, the area of Barcelona known as Ciutat Meridiana. But, as Brenna Bhandar writes, Ciutat Meridiana, like so many other communities, has united to fight evictions and reform Spain’s punitive mortgage laws.



The unintended consequences of India’s war on sex selection

India’s ban on sex-selective abortions in 1994 was designed to increase gender equality and send the message that girls and women are valued in society. But the law has come at a cost, according to Jill Filipovic. Many poor women now find that they can’t access second-trimester abortions at all. The policy’s implementation raises a crucial question: “Can you promote the rights of women and girls and also restrict their family choices?”

Cambodia:”Sometimes they burn the whole village”

Douglas Gillison and the investigative journalism group 100Reporters have revealed that the United States provided security training to members of Cambodia’s Royal Gendarmerie involved in violent forced evictions and to alleged murderers and kidnappers in Cambodia’s National Police Commissariat. These vetting oversights appear to violate the Leahy law, which prohibits U.S. funding of foreign military units that commit human rights abuses.

Big Pharma’s taxing situation

Khadija Sharife analyzed the public disclosures of nine pharmaceutical companies and found that they have collectively dodged about $140 billion in taxes by stashing $405 billion in income in offshore tax havens. Sharife also shows the alleged cost of obtaining a patent trotted out by Big Pharma is the product of artificial expenses and mispricing. Increasingly, it’s public institutions, which are deprived of funding by pharma’s tax avoidance strategies, that overwhelmingly pay for and develop new medicines.

When the Pope turned his back

With his focus on economic justice, Pope Francis is still riding a wave of adulation three years into his job. And perhaps it’s deserved, but as leader of the Jesuits and then as bishop and archbishop in Argentina, he failed to publicly denounce the abuses of the military junta. Jonathan Power compares the pope’s silence to the courage of Brazil’s church hierarchy, which stood up to dictatorship during the same time period. Power urges the pope to explain exactly what went on and how the Argentine church erred. The pope’s admission, Powers argues, would inspire his followers to think more profoundly about moral dilemmas and, perhaps, even help them be braver in the face of evil.

Safety First: Entering the age of artificial intelligence

Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence will generate unprecedented opportunities, but they will also create hard-to-predict risks. Sam Winter-Levy and Jacob Trefethen argue that governments, universities, and private companies need to take notice and begin to work together to address the accidental consequences that may accompany the onset of new technologies of immense power.

Coda: In living color

World Policy Journal editor Christopher Shay writes that the myth of a colorblind society allows those in power to avoid confronting the yawning wealth and opportunity gaps that exist across the color line.