6/2 How Child Welfare Destroys Black Families w/ Dorothy Roberts

June 2, 2022

Emma hosts Dorothy Roberts, professor of Law, Sociology, and Civil Rights at the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss her recent book Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families–and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World. Emma first covers yesterday’s simultaneous mass shootings, including five dead in Tulsa, the continued shortage of US-produced baby formula, the Israeli murder of another journalist in the occupied West Bank, and the GOP pitching mental health policy, which they don’t support, as a solution to gun violence. Professor Dorothy Roberts then joins to discuss her book as a continuation of her work on the family policing system that we call “child welfare,” a system that fits neatly within our greater carceral apparatus. First, she and Emma trace the history of the family policing system back to the early era of American settler colonialism and slavery, with family separation as a tool of control over Black and indigenous communities, seen in the wake of the Civil War with “apprenticeships” of black children that put them back in the hands of former slave owners, and throughout the early history of the US Military removing indigenous kids from their communities, put into either military barracks or the infamous residential schools. Professor Roberts and Emma then discuss the framing of tactics as the criminalization of poverty disguised as the saving of children, and how this “benevolent terror” stripped agency away from POC and families under the guise of empathy. Next, Prof. Roberts walks through the impact of political stereotypes of Black women on the genuine criminalization of them and their children, starting with Reagan’s endorsement of the “welfare queen” myth alongside the trifecta of crime control, the war on drugs, a complete unraveling of the welfare system, and continuing deep into the Clinton administration’s commitment to neoliberalism. They wrap up the interview by moving to the criminalization of Black women’s pregnancy in a way that has become increasingly more prevalent in an era of assault on reproductive rights, and take on the particular role of law enforcement in ensuring these terror attacks on poor families are committed, before Dorothy takes on the importance of income community-based programs and services in creating a future without these carceral attacks on family.

And in the Fun Half: Emma is joined by Matt and Brandon as Dave from Jamaica calls to address the worrying obsession on the right (and not-so-on-the-right) over the Depp v. Heard decision, as they watch Crowder capitalize on a WOMAN being denounced as a DEFAMER, and Matt Lech dives deeper into the idea of defamation vs. free speech. Will from Indiana sparks Emma’s sports talk, Sam Harris philosophizes about children dying, but with reverse racism, and Joe Rogan discusses his turn against UBI as he realized that capitalists DO deserve all the power, otherwise, who’s gonna be a wage slave? Jake the teacher dives into New York’s mayoral control over the school system, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Dorothy’s book here: https://www.basicbooks.com/titles/dorothy-roberts/torn-apart/9781541675445/

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