Looking beyond shadow boxing

Through complex and thought-provoking ideas, Hamline’s Professor Singleton writes about the impacts of racial protests during the post-George Floyd era.

Lyla Lee, Reporter

Bringing attention to eye-opening topics, Jermaine Singleton, Professor of English at Hamline University, writes “Beyond Shadow Boxing: Reflections on the Matrix of Race in the Post-Floyd Era of Racial Protest” for Stillpoint Magazine (a digital magazine that curates writers and artists using elements of psychoanalysis, critical theory, philosophy and literature). The article brings awareness to the different biases in our social systems. It invites others to reflect and rethink their personal intentions and the structures around them. It also allows them to reiterate those thoughts in ways that are productive and substantive. 


A colleague of Professor Singleton, Professor Mike Reynolds, discussed the ways that Singleton approaches trauma. More specifically, the ways that the article reiterates trauma and uses it as a source of strength and understanding.


“Trauma can trap people in boxes where the only response is either pain or recognition of the pain. I think what he’s trying to say is that we can both recognize trauma and engage with the real pain and harm that it causes, and not feel trapped,” Reynolds said. 


Singleton poses the notion of pushing past actions that raise awareness and towards actions that are more sustainable. Great things are being done to fight against these systems, and raising awareness is absolutely necessary, but what can be done beyond that? What are other ways that people can initiate and maintain change?


Dr. Letitia Basford, Hamline’s Associate Professor of Teaching, talked about one of Singleton’s calls for radical change in institutions; turning the conversations about social justice into acts of social change. 


“The ultimate protest is to change the systems that work against so many. That’s what I think is so powerful about his piece. It’s his call for universities to support student-led civic engagement initiatives that prioritize equity,” Dr. Basford said. 


Singleton explains ideas that not only make the reader reflect on the structures that surround them but also make the reader realize and acknowledge their faults in participating with these racialized systems. However, referring back to Professor Reynolds, it doesn’t make you feel “trapped.” Although incredibly complex, the article makes these issues clearer and simpler to understand.

“It has been extremely painful and emotional to watch it all go down from abroad. I hear things like ‘defund the police’ and I don’t understand what people want…and then Jermaine comes in and just made it so clear for me,” said Hamline Graduate Connor Rystedt (’17). 


Even more, a first-year student (who prefers to remain anonymous) mentioned how the article empowered their views about structural racial biases:


“It makes that spark of emotion of ‘we need to fix this’ even stronger. He brings up the point that this happens and there’s all this fanfare and yelling and noise about change but very little actually happens to change it. That spark of emotion that we need to instigate change just grew bigger,” said the first-year student.


While it may seem intimidating at first, the article is worth the read. It will broaden perspectives and introduce new ways of thinking. It’s informative, eye-opening and a powerful form of protest. 


To read the full article, you can find it on Stillpointmag.org in the September 2020 issue.