Making a Just Society
Resources from the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
"What has happened is not simply the results of a few bad people doing bad things. Rather it speaks to the systemic dehumanizing and undervaluing of Black lives, born out of slavery, reinforced by Jim Crow law, and promoted even today by media stereotypes. I’m here as a Black man, son, husband, and a father, who is in deep pain from watching history repeat itself over and over again.”
— John Dozier, Institute Community and Equity Officer, speaking at the MIT Community Vigil, June 2020
Insight for The Way Forward
Research-based perspectives from MIT's humanistic faculty
The MIT and Slavery Project
Undergraduate Research Course, Community Dialogues, Media
Revolving Selections from the Just Society series
Malick Ghachem; photo by Jon Sachs
On criminal justice reform | Malick Ghachem, historian and constitutional lawyer
While many minority voters are deeply concerned about criminal justice issues, they are also invested in the direction of education, housing, employment, foreign, and other policies. And therein lies an important point about criminal justice reform itself: Inequalities in the distribution of both crime and punishment are likely to persist as long as inequalities in these other spheres of life continue to be seen as acceptable or inevitable costs of the free-market system... Criminal law is no longer (if it ever was) only about 'criminals,' or even about 'crime.' It has become a matter of everyday life for far too many people."
Commentary | Related: Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law (21H.319)
Photo by Miki Jourdan, Flickr
A collective cry for justice | Graham M. Jones, anthropologist
"The mask is one of the most important human artifacts in all of anthropology. It is a tool of transformation that allows its wearers to transcend themselves, taking on timeless roles in ritual dramas, and as actors in a broader social drama.... For me the iconic image of our times is of Black Lives Matter protestors of every race wearing masks emblazoned with the dying words of George Floyd: 'I can’t breathe.' The use of the cloth mask as a substrate for a citational text situates the individual wearer as an actor in a broader social drama. Such protest masks are a creative, expressive way of subsuming one’s identity within a social movement — and one’s voice within a collective cry for justice."
1945, State of Florida
Unearthing the stories of yesterday’s George Floyds
Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean, Professor of Political Science
"When we call the victims’ descendants to share our findings, they tell us ‘I never thought I’d get this call.’ The scars remain, and luckily, because we have found documents, so does proof."
Commentary in The Boston Globe