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Departures Podcast with Robert Patterson


Our podcast is often focused on international affairs, often involving countries where our law firm is active. But given the dramatic developments taking place in the United States in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we are confronted with the fact that many of the same authoritarian abuses, the same debates on civil-military relations, and the same institutionalized injustice we see abroad is taking place right here. It should be acknowledged that the injustice has been going on for a long time, and now we are seeing it come to a boiling point.

We’re very pleased to be joined this week by a guest who is based just down the street from our Washington DC office, Prof. Robert Patterson, PhD, the inaugural Chair of Georgetown University’s Department of African American Studies.

So what does this protest movement mean for the country, and what is coming next? According to Prof. Patterson, the incredibly callous way in which George Floyd was killed highlights a pattern of indifference to black lives in the United States that is supported by deeply embedded institutional and social structures. Yet it is still unclear if the unprecedented wave of protests is going to result in any form of positive change, it’s unclear if the right people are listening, and it’s quite unclear if it is going to be possible for different sectors of society to hear each other and recognize the problem. What is certain is that these events are set to have a major impact on the 2020 presidential elections, for better or worse.

Professor Patterson’s academic research has touched on the role of racial politics in cultural production, the issue of reparations, and broader questions regarding the obstacles to progress and equality in the United States. His comments and analysis on the Floyd protest movement and the history of the struggle for civil rights during our podcast discussion are highly instructive and important given the events we are seeing all around us.

I hope you enjoy this episode and as always I welcome your feedback and am grateful for your help sharing the pod with friends to help us grow the audience.