Race, Police & the Pandemic: A Conversation with Jelani Cobb

Share:
A local resident stands in front of a makeshift memorial honoring George Floyd, at the spot where he was taken into custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., June 1, 2020.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A local resident stands in front of a makeshift memorial honoring George Floyd, at the spot where he was taken into custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

June 2, 2020

George Floyd’s death beneath the knee of a police officer has sparked grief and rage in the streets of Minneapolis and across the country.

As I watched all this over the weekend, there was one person I wanted to talk to about it: Jelani Cobb, historian, professor of journalism at Columbia University, New Yorker writer, and one of the most insightful voices on issues of race and policing in America.

That’s the conversation in today’s new episode of our FRONTLINE Dispatch podcast.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak that is disproportionately killing people of color, Jelani helps put this volatile moment in context, explaining why we’ve reached a boiling point, and what he says needs to happen now.

This is how he encapsulates it: “We really need a kind of gigantic systemic overhaul in so much of the country, things that are seemingly unrelated, but from our educational system, our healthcare system, the number of people who didn’t have health care coverage in the midst of a pandemic — all these things that that ultimately culminate in the explosions that we’ve seen in the past week. Until we’re able to address things in a much broader spectrum of ways, we won’t be able to get policing to where it needs to be, either.”

In 2016, Jelani was the correspondent and writer for FRONTLINE’s documentary, Policing the Police, which examined some of the complex issues once again surfacing today, including the role of the federal government in forcing accountability and reform. It is a story we are continuing to follow with Jelani and our other journalists.

I hope you find this conversation as valuable as I do during these difficult times. You can listen to “Race, Police & the Pandemic” on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also stream Policing the Police on our website, on YouTube and on the PBS Video App.


Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Producer, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@raneyaronson

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

Mass Shootings, a Supreme Court Ruling, Bipartisan Legislation: How America Reached This Moment on Guns
FRONTLINE has been chronicling America’s dialogue on guns for years. Get the backstory on the recent news in these documentaries.
June 29, 2022
The Supreme Court Has Overturned 'Roe v. Wade.' These Documentaries Show How We Got Here.
Overriding nearly five decades of legal precedent, the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S. These documentaries offer context on how America reached this moment.
June 24, 2022
Why the Black Educator Forced Out Over Bogus Critical Race Theory Claims Wanted to Share Her Story
ProPublica reporter Nicole Carr explains why educator Cecelia Lewis was hesitant to speak to reporters about white parents forcing her out of her job and why she ultimately decided she had to.
June 18, 2022
White Parents Rallied to Chase a Black Educator Out of Town. Then, They Followed Her to the Next One.
Cecelia Lewis was asked to apply for a Georgia school district’s first-ever administrator job devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion. A group of parents — coached by local and national anti-CRT groups — had other plans.
June 16, 2022