Professor Explores Trayvon Martin Case
Spence, a Detroit native, grew up in the city before attending the University of Michigan, Anne Arbor. After earning his doctorate and bachelor he went on to teach classes in Urban and Racial Politics at Johns Hopkins, Spence has also published “Stare In the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-Hop and Black Politics” in 2011. Currently Spence provides commentary for NPR’s “Tell Me More with Michele Martin” and contributed towards “The Urbanite” magazine.
The professor opened the lecture with a brief overview of the race and background of Zimmerman and Martin. He explored the motivations and classifications of both as well as the perceptions of them that have evolved over time. The lecture concluded with a discussion of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law to tie the different points of the lecture together.
Throughout the hour-long discussion Spence interwove the idea of the “Post-Racial Moment” the United States has entered since the election of President Barack. His emphasis on the political imagination and perceptions of the role race and ethnicity play in society opened up more thought on political culture.
After concluding the lecture Spence answered questions from the audience for forty five minutes. Students, passionate about the case after nearly a month of media attention on it, questioned the professor on topics as diverse as racial violence and the role of public media in the case’s depiction. Spence even waved off the suggestion of Clarke Forum volunteers to end the lecture to field more questions, taking the event ten minutes over its deadline.
Despite the seriousness of the topic, the fifty plus attendees found themselves laughing at Spence’s anecdotes and cultural references. “He was a great speaker and I loved his energy,” offered Terra Allgaier ’13 after leaving the lecture. “His anecdotes were a clever way to keep the crowd engaged and the issues relevant.”