Race, Violence, and State Power in the Panorama

Will Mackintosh

As editor of the Panorama and a cis white male, I am caught on the horns of a dilemma about how this venue can best address the issues of race, violence, and state power that are so much at the forefront of the national conversation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

This moment clearly calls out for the kind of historically informed insight into our contemporary moment that has become one of the hallmarks of the Panorama over recent years.  It also clearly calls out for raising the voices of BIPOC historians, whose powerful scholarship and lived experiences have powered so much of that insight.

However, I am also acutely aware of the emotional and intellectual burdens that this moment puts on BIPOC scholars from all disciplines.  I know that when white scholars—and white Americans more generally—look to them to provide the emotional and intellectual tools to understand this moment, it can represent an additional load that they are asked to carry, beyond all the loads that this world has already saddled them with.  The last thing I want to do is reproduce the inequities of labor that are part of what has brought us to this moment.

Frankly, I don’t know how to resolve this dilemma.  I want to give a platform to BIPOC historians who have something to say to the Panorama’s readership; I want to amplify their voices because their scholarship is more critical than ever.  But I also don’t want to add to their burden by asking them to do the work that we all should have been doing all along.

So let me say this: the Panorama is open to all contributions from BIPOC historians, at all career stages, who would like to use this platform to speak to our contemporary moment.  Please reach out if you’d like to contribute.  But I will not make demands on your time that you aren’t willing or able to give.

In the meantime, I want to name some of the BIPOC scholars whose work has recently helped me understand issues of race, violence, and state power in the early American republic in my own research, in my teaching, and in my twenty-first century life.  I make no claims to comprehensiveness; these are the scholars that have influenced my thinking as I tread my own narrow scholarly path.  I hope this list can be a resource.

  • Catherine Adams
  • Daina Ramey Berry
  • Lisa Brooks
  • Joseph Bruchac
  • Margaret Bruchac
  • Christian Crouch
  • Erica Armstrong Dunbar
  • Brigitte Fielder
  • Annette Gordon-Reed
  • Darlene Clark Hine
  • Vanessa Holden
  • Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
  • Courtney Joseph
  • Alyssa Mt. Pleasant
  • Tiya Myles
  • Tamika Nunley
  • Jean M. O’Brien
  • Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor
  • Joshua Reid
  • Chernoh Sesay Jr.
  • Stephanie Smallwood
  • Brenda Stevenson
  • Deborah Gray White
  • Jason R. Young

17 June 2020

About the Author

Will Mackintosh is associate professor of history at the University of Mary Washington and the founding editor of The Panorama.

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