LISTEN: Police Violence, Civil Rights, and Black and Latinx Movements

In this interview from July 2020, Oregon State professor Joseph Orosco talks about how Black and Latinx/Chicanx movements of the past intersect in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

By Gabriel Granillo January 29, 2021

The summer of 2020 could be summed up by one word: unrest.

The first wave of the coronavirus was beginning to crest and the simmering racial tensions in this country had reached a boiling point with the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Cities around the world, including Portland, took the streets to protest racial injustice and police violence.

I remember listening to speakers at the protests in Portland talk about the ways in which they grew up with “the talk,” about what they should do, as a Black person, in case they were ever pulled over by police. I listened to stories about what it was like to live in fear of the police, that police were a last resort, if they could even be counted on at all. It reminded me of my experience growing up as a Latino in Southern California around aggressive cops just looking for a reason, and spending my adolescence in Tempe, Arizona, at the height of SB 1070, under the ever-present authority of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I felt these experiences, the Black experience and the Latinx experience, overlapped in some ways, and so I wanted to talk to some folks about how and why. One of them was Joseph Orosco, a professor of philosophy at Oregon State University, whom you may have heard before on this podcast talking about Star Trek and philosophy. Orosco also teaches ethnic studies, focusing on Chicanx and Latinx history, thought, and experience. And last summer we spoke about how people like César Chávez and Martin Luther King Jr. and their respective civil rights movements intersected, as well as the ongoing fights against white supremacy.

The time never felt right for this interview. I always worried about co-opting the Black Lives Matter message, but little things have been making me think back on this conversation, like the most recent Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, news of the César Chávez bust in the Oval Office, and the Department of Homeland Security bulletin on domestic terrorism fueled by long-standing ethnic and racial tension. And so today on Footnotes, we’re listening back to my interview with Joseph Orosco from July 2020. I hope you enjoy. —Gabriel Granillo, digital editor


About Footnotes

Every Friday we break down our most important stories with the writers, contributors, and editors who crafted them. Hosted by Portland Monthly digital editor Gabriel Granillo, Footnotes provides clarity on complex stories with intimate and informative interviews.

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