Bahá’í Chair Examines Structural Violence in Philadelphia, Baltimore

Dr. Jooyoung Lee, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Joseph Richardson, Jr., associate professor in BSOS's Department of African American Studies, will examine structural violence in the cases of Philadelphia and Baltimore at an upcoming Bahá’í Chair for World Peace event.

All are welcome to this “Symposium on Structural Violence in Philadelphia and Baltimore,” which will be held at 4 p.m. on Nov. 4 in the Ulrich Recital Hall in Tawes Hall.

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In the first talk of the symposium, “Beyond the White Tunnel: The Social Construction of Near Death in Black Philadelphia,” Dr. Lee will discuss the social construction of near death among young black men who survive shootings in Philadelphia, a city that averages close to one murder per day. In particular, he will assess how a shooting can be framed either as a “traumatic rebirth” or as a tragedy

Immediately after, Dr. Richardson will revisit the violent summer in Baltimore in his talk, “#FreddieGray: The Anatomy of a Structural and Interpersonal Violence in Black Baltimore.” During the summer of 2015, Baltimore experienced its highest rates of homicides in nearly four decades and more homicides than all of 2014. Dr. Richardson will discuss the role of structural violence in perpetuating the rate of homicides in Baltimore, beyond the “Ferguson effect” and the increase in drug-related violence.

Commenting on the symposium, Dr. Hoda Mahmoudi, research professor at the University of Maryland and holder of the Bahá’í Chair, said: “For the past three years, we have been engaged in an intensive process of learning about structural racism and the root causes of prejudice in the United States and around the world. This symposium on structural violence continues this course of inquiry by examining another aspect of structural racism that is exceedingly unjust and harmful to the human spirit and promotes further structural inequality.”

Dr. Lee is also a senior fellow in Yale University’s Urban Ethnography Project. He writes and teaches about hip hop, gun violence, and health disparities and writes a personal blog, Guns, Rap, Crime. He is the author of an upcoming book, Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central (University of Chicago, 2016).

Dr. Richardson is the director of the Violence Intervention Program at Prince George’s Hospital Trauma Center and faculty associate at the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland. He has produced a short documentary, “Bullets Without Names,” that chronicles the experiences of a young black male survivor of a firearm-related violent injury, and “Every 80 Minutes,” a public service announcement on gun violence in Philadelphia that was nominated for an American Visions Award in 2014.   

The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace is a renowned academic program within the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. It uses interdisciplinary discourse to examine the way actors and institutions effect social change and transform society. The Bahá’í Chair invites students, teachers, administrators, and other participants to discuss structural violence and share insights on racism in Philadelphia and Baltimore. 

For more information on the program and to read the speakers abstracts, please visit the Bahá’í Chair websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.