Newsmakers with JR
Aaron Jones: BLM Concerns Trace to Nation's "Original Sins" -- Slavery and Genocide
Amid the anti-racism protests led by Black Lives Matter activists, UCSB scholar and staff member Aaron Jones recently co-chaired an extraordinary public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on Racial Equity and the Criminal Justice System.
Jones, director of the Educational Opportunity Program at the university, and Wendy Sims-Moten, a trustee of the Santa Barbara Unified School District board, moderated the six-hour remote hearing, which included testimony from nearly 100 community members focused on BLM demands for "transparency and accountability" in county law enforcement.
In a conversation with Newsmakers, Jones on Tuesday discussed the historic roots of the current controversies and conflicts, drawing a connection between the brutal killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, which galvanized the global demonstrations, and the white "slave patrols" which hunted, captured and sometimes put to death Black people in the antebellum era.
"If we are not looking at the very foundations on which our society rests and was built, then we always fall short...of being able to truly address and redress the challenges and the ills and the atrocities that are taking place (today)," he said.
With an undergraduate degree in Black Studies and Political Science, and a master's in Education, Jones is working towards a Phd, focusing on Student Movements in Higher Education. As head of the EOP, he leads an administrative department that provides counseling and support services for first-generation undergraduates at UCSB.
"Until there is some recognition and acknowledgement and reconciliation with, not just the original sin of this country, which is slavery, but the companion original sin, which is the genocide of the indigenous population," he told us, "we’re going to keep coming to this point...
"The foundation is really rooted in those twin atrocities," Jones added.
In a half-hour one-on-one Aaron also offered perspective about BLM's call to "defund the police" and the reaction of local law enforcement officials; the multi-racial makeup of the protests and the sudden shift in public opinion about them; and the possibilities -- and limits -- of electoral politics in addressing racism in policing and other public policies.
Watch our conversation with Aaron Jones by clicking below, or the podcast version is here.