The McKelvy House Scholars invite you to join their weekly Sunday evening discussion at 4 p.m. Email the group for the Zoom link. The discussion will be led by Shirley Liu ’23 and Stefano Mancini ’22, who provide the background below.

As part of McKelvy House’s series on Blackness, we want to use this week’s discussion to think about theories of racial justice by considering how media discourses frame Black resistance movements, especially as they relate to the optics and politics of “violence.” We might consider topics like legal and popular definitions of Blackness, the current national protests for racial justice, and the centering of intersectional experiences in how we talk about race. We also hope that this discussion considers the ethics of protest more generally, along with the relationship between the law and social movements.

The choice of these articles does not necessarily mean an endorsement from either of us. Rather, we wish to use these articles to spur conversation and, perhaps, to probe these articles for their own inconsistencies and tensions. We are also conscious about our roles as non-Black McKelvyites but hope to still treat this topic with the care, attention, and respect that it deserves. Note that this is not a debate on whether racism exists in the United States; instead, we hope that this discussion will use the intellectually honest and rigorous analysis of a McKelvy discussion to critique popular framing of resistance movements and to better understand how we can achieve racial justice.



  1. How does the media/popular discourse frame ideas of violence and legitimacy across racial lines?
  2. What constitutes violence in the first place? Can laws or even the system itself be “violent?”
  3. What makes a law just and unjust? Who gets to decide what is just and unjust? What makes a law legitimate?
  4. What does it mean to make change in a democracy? What strategies of resistance are most effective and most moral?
  5. Is the United States a democracy? Is the United States a democracy for only some people?
  6. Should the guarantees of liberal democracy be a model for an inclusive and just society? Or should we look for other models and possibilities?

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