The Year in Race, Identity, and Criminal Justice

Source: The Atlantic


In 2016, long simmering tensions over race and identity in America boiled over. Years of conflict between police and minority communities, clashing views concerning abortion and gender identity, and fear of immigrants and Muslims in a diversifying country all played prominent roles in a contentious presidential election. More than three-fourths of Americans feel the country is “greatly divided” on crucial issues, according to a recent Gallup poll. The United States has a long road ahead to address these issues, but The Atlantic’s coverage from the past year offers some clues about what may lie ahead.

The Year’s Coverage

A Bloody American Summer: In five particularly high-profile cases, black men were shot and killed by police; a single shooter also killed five officers during an ambush in Dallas. David A. Graham analyzed the freedoms enshrined in the Second Amendment, and the limits of their exercise by black Americans. And the Princeton University historian Julian E. Zelizer looked to 1968 as a lens to examine the wave of racial tension.

Reforming Policing: In the wake of these shootings, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams asked two former police chiefs and a leading police training researcher whether training and preparation could avert such tragedies. After the deadly Dallas shooting, Ta-Nehisi Coates discussed the inevitability of anti-police violence during a time of “illegitimate policing”: “If the law is nothing but a gang, then it is certain that someone will resort to the kind of justice typically meted out to all other powers in the street.”

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