Black Lives Matter

The Stanford Sphere fully supports the protests against police violence and structural racism  catalyzed by the unjust killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department, as well as the killings of Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Metro Police Department and Tony McDade by the Tallahassee Police Department. As a publication devoted to furthering left-wing and progressive perspectives at Stanford, we are deeply indebted to America’s Black freedom movement and its legacy on the left—from the historical role of Black freedom fighters like Harry Haywood and William Patterson in organizing labor throughout the US across racial lines, to the work of groups like the Black Panther Party in showing the power of mutual aid to build a social movement. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, and we want to do all we can to help address the causes of that hurt.

This week, we have seen an upswell of action against the structural racism entrenched in the United States. And we have been heartened to see protests and solidarity all over the world, in the streets of London, Tokyo, Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi, and so many others. We hope that this moment of righteous anger and radical critique continues to grow until it cannot be ignored. We cannot let these protests falter or allow their radical demands to be co-opted by corporate entities that care only about profit. Instead, we must ensure that they become a long-term movement that can topple the oppressive structures under which Black Americans have suffered for centuries. 

To help build that movement, it is vital to take action to support these protests in the moment. If you are able to safely attend a physical protest in your area, we hope you can be there in solidarity. If you are not able to be physically present, we urge you to donate, as the writers of the Sphere have, to the following organizations:

And if you are new to thinking about police brutality, white supremacy, and the links between racism and capitalism, it may be useful to read the following guides, books, and essays:

    • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley and Malcolm X;
    • The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois;
    • Notes from a Native Son, by James Baldwin;
    • Women, Race, and Class, by Angela Davis;
    • Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis;
    • Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison;
    • Golden Gulag, by Ruth Wilson Gilmore;
    • The Fateful Triangle, by Stuart Hall;
    • “The Case for Reparations,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates;
    • The End of Policing, by Alex Vitale;
    • The Racial Contract, by Charles W. Mills;
    • Black Marxism, by Cedric Robinson;
    • Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression, by Robin Kelley;
    • Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America, by Barbara Fields;
    • The 1619 Project, curated by Nikole Hannah-Jones;
    • Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine.

Yet reading alone is not sufficient. Racism is a corrosive force—it warps our social relations in ways felt viscerally, in ways more immediate than what any book can teach. If you are not Black, consider how your own social circles are shaped by race: How often are you a minority in a room? How many of your Instagram photos are filled with people who look like you? How often do you encounter the police in your day-to-day life? Discuss what you learn and what you experience in this moment with your friends, your family, your neighbors. Use this moment of crisis and pain to build solidarity and empathy.

Capitalism in America has always been predicated on the exploitation of Black labor, and any attempt to break free from capitalism and build a better world must address the harms of anti-Black racism. In the same light, we must incorporate anti-capitalism into our efforts to fight racism. The Sphere remains committed to these goals.

Sphere Editorial Board

Image: George Floyd protests in San Francisco, by Mark Sebastian, Wikimedia Commons.

14 Must-Take Courses This Spring: Remote Edition

IN THIS unprecedented quarter filled with uncertainty, the Sphere is back to help you get the best experience out of Zoom sessions. Whether you intend to discover paths toward democratic socialism, sharpen your theorizing about gender, or master the art of Mask, we have you covered. Enjoy our picks for this spring, listed in no particular order.

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Nineteen Must-Take Courses This Winter

WINTER QUARTER. Frigid in ambient air temperature, but typically also in spirit. To warm you in the coming months—and to offer entertaining, educational respites between pluvial sprints across the quad—the Sphere has compiled an alphabetized list of the most scintillating classes at Stanford. In recognition of recent (frightening) events on the global political stage, we’ve especially tried to identify classes to help you make sense of the months ahead. Worried about imminent war with Iran? Try POLISCI 245R with Abbas Milani. More generally anxious about authoritarian politics both at home and abroad? We have a seminar for that, too. Keep reading below for our longest course list yet.

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Eleven Must-Take Courses This Fall

BY NOW, it’s a time-honored tradition: the Sphere’s definitive list of the quarter’s must-take classes. Whether you prefer Yugoslavia, linear algebra, or Gloria Anzaldúa, our writers have combed through the darkest & dismalest corners of Carta—DESINST, SCCM, OPHT, sailing the whole of the acronymic sea—for the Farm’s very best. In our oldest recurring feature, we present below an alphabetized list of the most interesting classes of the fall.

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The 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates, Ranked

WHO WILL challenge Donald Trump in 2020?

It’s a question that Americans have been asking since before Trump even took office. The Democratic Party was in shambles after the 2016 election; it had bet the kingdom on Hillary Clinton, only to suffer a crushing and unthinkable defeat. With only one other serious contender during the primaries—one whom critics viewed as an outsider and a sore loser—Democrats were at a loss as to who would be next to take on Trump.

Continue reading “The 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates, Ranked”