Human Rights Lecture Series
How White People Refuse to Understand Black Mourning: On White Responses to Black Lives Matter
The Human Rights Lecture Series in the Department of Political Science is proud to present a lecture by Johanna Luttrell, instructional assistant professor at the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs.
How White People Refuse to Understand Black Mourning: On White Responses to Black Lives Matter shows how white people in the U.S. tend to respond to expressions of black mourning by claiming it is unintelligible. The claim of unintelligibility often appears in the forms of voyeurism, appropriation, gas lighting, tone policing and militarization.
What these forms have in common is that they are ways of managing and suppressing mourning. This paper urges that white understanding of black mourning must evolve from victim creating, victim blaming and respectability politics in general. Drawing from both the Abrahamic tradition in the book of Jeremiah and forms of Greek tragedy, it shows how mourning involves the whole range of human emotion and can be a source of agency.
Johanna Luttrell is also the board president of the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights and author of the forthcoming book, White People and Black Lives Matter: Ignorance, Empathy and Justice.