The events surrounding the shooting of Ferguson, Missouri teenager Michael Brown have placed our nation at a number of different tipping points, including race relations, police oversight and political power. With few details coming from the St. Louis County city and the flare up of nation-wide protests as a result, advocacy and policy experts are stepping in and shedding light on the big picture issues. Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, is one of the experts addressing issues of race relations and politics with regard to Ferguson’s majority-black population and “virtually all-white power structure.”
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Smith reports that in 2010, 67 percent of the city’s population was black, and 29 percent of the population was white. “Politics,” says Smith quoting political scientist Harold Laswell, “is about ‘who gets what, when and how.’” According to Smith, this definition of politics is fundamental to understanding the “racial power disparities we’ve seen in Ferguson, MO.”
Smith served in the Missouri Senate from 2006-2009, representing inner-city St. Louis. His research interests include urban political economy, policy advocacy and the legislative process.
Read Smith’s New York Times op-ed here.