On an Ordinary African-American Citizen Negotiating Voting Rights and Voter Intimidation in Ohio 2012

On an Ordinary African-American Citizen Negotiating Voting Rights and Voter Intimidation in Ohio 2012

Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law

1. Introduction

I thank the Cardozo Journal for Conflict Resolution for the opportunity to present at the November 5, 2012 Symposium, “Negotiating the Extremes: Impossible Political Dialogues in the 21st Century.”  This article builds on my presentation about my experience at a voter integrity group named True the Vote meeting at its Ohio Summit on August 25, 2012 and subsequently.  As I have reflected on that experience it seemed that it might be useful to examine that experience through four lenses.  First, I tell the personal story.  Next, I reframe the experience in terms of negotiation theory with regard to difficult conversations.  In making that reframing, it did occur to me that the negotiation theory analysis I was doing might be well informed by recent work on explicit bias, implicit bias and stereotype threat that could have been a second order frame around the negotiation.  Third, given the positive and negative reactions to me in that space over that day and in subsequent events, I was drawn back again to Derrick Bell’s work on interest convergence theory.  Fourth, with these three strands operating as the ordinary citizen experiencing a kind of dissociative moment that led to a certain galvanizing of my own activity, I was brought back to the work of Francesco Alberoni’s on how movements get started and in particular a person reaches what he terms the nascent state, seeks affinity with others and movement and institution were also relevant.  Through these four lenses, I hope to assist reflection on a manner of thinking about negotiating extremes in settings of impossible political dialogue. Part II of this paper provides a version of the events that happened at the public meeting.  Part III looks at those events from the point of view of negotiation theory.  Part IV adds to the negotiation theory vision a look at the events in terms of explicit bias, implicit bias and stereotype threat theory.  Part V builds on the above to examine the events in terms of interest convergence theory.  Part VI draws on the previous parts to understand the events as generating the nascent state in Alberoni’s work.  Part VII is a summary and conclusion.

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