In her 2016 TEDx talk in Seattle, professor Megan Ming Francis debunked common misconceptions that lead to “fix-all” cures to systemic racism.
“In talking about the current racial crisis, we tend to focus all of our attention on police and overlook our own complicity in creating an environment in which Black lives are not treated as equal,” she said. “It’s not just a few bad racist apples in a police department or at an airport; it’s all of us, who in big ways through our actions and in small ways by our silences, support this lie—because that’s what it is, it’s a lie—that somehow Black folk are more dangerous than the rest of us. So not only do I believe that we’ve misdiagnosed the problem, I also think we have the wrong cure to it.”
Francis is the author of Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State, which shows that the battle against lynching and mob violence in the first quarter of the 20th century was pivotal to the development of civil rights and the growth of federal court power. Francis is an assistant professor at the University of Washington, where she specializes in the study of American politics, race, and the development of constitutional law.
She goes on to say:
“This is what I know for sure: that in order to combat continuing racial injustices today, we must expand our vision and our responsibility to what civil rights actually means. We must include the battle against racist violence in our understanding of civil rights.”
“And what I mean by this is we tend to think the problem of racial violence is isolated to a few stubborn racists that haven’t yet drunk kind of this progressive Kool-Aid. And we tend to think the cure to racial injustices in the United States should always revolve around education.”
“What if we placed freedom from racist violence at the crux of what it means to be free and equal in the United States?”