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31 December 2020
Dismantling White Supremacy in Public Service Institutions and Society
Call for Dialogue contributions: “Dismantling White Supremacy in Public Service Institutions and Society”
In partnership with the American Society for Public Administration’s Section on Democracy and Social Justice (SDSJ)
The United States is in the midst of what Susan Gooden calls a “double pandemic:” COVID-19 and racism. Both have led to a disproportionate number of deaths for people of color, but especially Black people. People of color disproportionately experience inequities due to COVID-19, often because of structural inequities that make it more difficult for them to exercise the luxury and privilege of social distancing and less able to access quality health care (Gaynor & Wilson, 2020; Wright II & Merritt, 2020). The latest police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and more reflect the realities of how Black identity is policed and surveilled in this country. For many people, the “double pandemic” has shed light on the ways public and nonprofit institutions have failed to respond to centuries-long pleas for access, fairness, and justice for people of color. Despite mandates that such institutions must serve the public interest, it often seems many groups rarely benefit from the equal protection of the law (Gooden, 2014). Due to a failure to act, in the short- and long-term, the distrust that exists between public service institutions and marginalized communities deepens.
Numerous public and private responses to these disparities showcase anti-Blackness fully and unapologetically. Specifically, public administration, as a discipline and practice, has struggled to acknowledge these realities, probably for the purposes of ignoring its culpability in how racism and white supremacy manifest in institutional practices and administrative decision-making to make injustice possible in the first place. Anti-Blackness, ‘Othering,’ patriarchy, and homophobia have been interwoven into and across U.S. customs and practices (Blessett, 2018; McCandless, 2018). A focus on white supremacy and racism should also be accompanied by an examination of intersectionality and the ways in which identity can create cumulative burdens for people as they interact with public institutions. Inequity is not a siloed experience: It manifests itself and replicates across sectors and policy areas. Therefore, dismantling systems of oppression requires a deep dive into the nuance and interconnectedness for which these structures inform one another. Although progress has been made, many continue to feel betrayed by and distrustful of public service institutions. Still, there is an ethical duty within the field to understand the causes and effects of discrimination at all levels. These traditions necessitate critical examination to debunk, challenge, and reimagine new policies, practices, and behaviors - if we are ever to fully embrace the ideals associated with ‘We the People.”
Administrative Theory & Praxis is teaming with SDSJ to offer a Dialogue series on these topics. The Dialogue section presents new, novel, topical, and thought-provoking ideas that should ideally spur continued discussion in the journal and beyond. We welcome critical, thought-provoking, empirically grounded, and/or theoretically driven pieces providing insights on the questions and topic including but not limited to the following:
- In what ways are racism and white supremacy woven into the fabric of public service institutions, and what are their effects on the equity of such services?
- In what ways have the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and police killings as well as social movements and protests revealed racism and white supremacy in public service institutions?
- Can the administrative state be relevant or legitimate in the midst of state-sponsored oppression like police brutality? If not, what is a viable path forward for the administrative state?
- How do racism and white supremacy manifest in and through nonprofits? What are the roles and responsibilities of nonprofits to dismantle racism and white supremacy, especially given the burdens they face when the administrative state fails?
- What is the responsibility of the field to uphold the values of justice, democracy, and fairness for all in the wake of police killings? Or other structural deficits that affect communities of color in disparate ways? How can and should theories inform discussions of police defunding?
- How can and should pedagogies change?
- What theoretical frameworks could help explain issues of racism, white supremacy, and more? What can public administration learn from other disciplines to inform our theorizing?
- What are ways to dismantle racism and white supremacy in public service institutions and society?
- What are the global dimensions and implications of inequities due to police brutality, racism, and white supremacy?
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All submitted papers will go through double-blind peer review. Articles should be between 2,000 and 3,000 words and follow the journal’s standard format below. Submissions can be uploaded below. Authors can select the Dialogue drop-down menu option upon initial submission. Papers will be accepted until December 31, and accepted submissions will be published on a rolling basis.
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