…millions of Americans cast a vote for a candidate who told white supremacists to “stand back and stand by,” advocated for the execution of the Central Park Five, and famously bragged about sexually assaulting women (to say nothing of his catastrophic mishandling of the novel coronavirus and brazen disdain for democracy). From the African American Policy Forum statement on the 2020 election.

Don’t look so shocked at this deep divide. It was always like this —

Black and White, north and south, indigenous and invaders, rich and poor,

native born and immigrant. We should not pretend this is new,


What are you seeing? What are you not seeing?

My partner posted a picture of me on Facebook. We were hiking in Greer in the Arizona White Mountains. In the picture, I am looking out over the valley that is filled with new green growth after a fire a decade before. The leaves of the Quaking Aspens shimmered in the breeze. I was mesmerized and stared and stared, reciting Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “My aspens dear” to myself.

Overlook in the White Mountains

A friend who saw the picture on Facebook posted her own response about what she saw: I saw bug kill and a fire…

Photo by Jan Schwartz

like a man, like a woman, in the city
my visionary anger cleansing my sight
and the detailed perceptions of mercy
flowering from that anger

Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck (1973)

As we move into the third year of the Trump presidency, I want to remember how I felt a few days after the election. I fear that so many of us have become numb to the transgressions of morality and precedent that bombard us every day, that it is worth remembering what we felt only a few days after the election. …

The Washington Post reports that Republicans are gleefully spreading the word that Democrats and the “liberal mob” are out of control and that Republicans represent the bulwark against this chaos.

We must challenge the characterization of nonviolent protests as “mob rule.” It is not. It is an expression of our First Amendment right to free speech.

To counter this fabrication, we have to ask: What is a mob? What is Civil Disobedience? In my Law and Social Change class at the University of Arizona, we open with these two questions. For the first, students read Frances Fox Piven’s Challenging Authority

I never talked to my parents about sex. My father referred to it as “the birds and the bees” and told us that our mother would explain. I don’t recall that she ever did. But in a late January winter in 1973, after I had been home from graduate school in Boston for the Christmas holidays, she helped me drive back across country. The Supreme Court had just announced its unanimous decision in Roe v Wade.

Education is the foundation of democracy. As a society, we Americans knew that once. A unanimous Supreme Court said in the 1953 Brown v Board of Education decision: “Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities…. It is the very foundation of good citizenship.”

Today, we have lost that recognition, lost our certainty that education is a common good that…

Permitted Harm

How can we begin to withdraw the cultural permission for racism, misogyny, and other forms of bigotry that seems to be prevailing as the law of the land?

Thousands of words have been written about the recent election, from every perspective imaginable. How did we get here? What next? What does this mean?

Twenty years ago, one of my law school professors wrote: “Whenever society permits a particular act, it is simultaneously authorizing all consequences of that act.” This is a principle of tort law, and the example usually given is fairly simple. …

Looming storm…photo by Jan Schwartz

like a man, like a woman, in the city
my visionary anger cleansing my sight
and the detailed perceptions of mercy
flowering from that anger

Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck (1973)

I first heard Adrienne Rich use the phrase “visionary anger” in the mid 1970s at a reading she gave in Boston. She may have just read her poem “Phenomenology of Anger” when a man in the audience rose to ask a question. “Aren’t you afraid,” he wanted to know, “that your anger will make you a bitter woman?” There was an intake of breath in the audience. We…

Mourning in southern Arizona

Donald Trump rocked my world by becoming the president elect, but on the day after, I had to go teach class. I have two classes on Wednesday — Law and Social Change and Women and the Law. In the first, I told them on Monday that we would talk about how social change might look in our next class — after the election.

But before class, about 3:30 in the morning when I got up because I couldn’t sleep, I saw an email from Kevin saying he was sorry but he was too depressed by the election results to be…

“When my son was little, he was so cute that you all wanted to hug him and give him treats. He was such a lovable little boy. Today he is a young man and he is still gentle and lovable. But your perception of him has changed. You see him differently. When did he become a threat?” Speaker at Black Lives Matter vigil in Tucson.

In July, after the shootings in Dallas, we went to a Black Lives Matter vigil in Tucson. I didn’t really want to go; the temperature at 6pm was still about 100 degrees and the desert…

Judith McDaniel

Judith McDaniel, PhD, JD, teaches Law and Social Change at the University of Arizona. Her book, Sanctuary: A Journey, was published by Firebrand Books in 1986

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