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Watch a Professor Discuss the Importance of Developing a Language Around Police ‘Lynchings’ of Black People

2 minute read

When talking about the Black victims of police violence, using the right words can help to tell a deeper story, Yale University Professor Jacqueline Goldsby explains in a new interview with Katie Couric for TIME.

Goldsby, the author of A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature and a professor of English, African American Studies, and American Studies, tells Couric that she deliberately uses the term “lynching murders” when discussing police killings such as the death of George Floyd.

By emphasizing the anti-blackness underpinning the murder, Goldsby says, she makes a point of showing “its difference and its specificity.” Describing such murders as “lynchings” can also help to link the modern killings of Black people to racist murders in American history.

“I think it’s important to develop a nomenclature, a language, that is specific to that history so that we can bear witness to it as citizens in all the fullness that it deserves,” Goldsby said to Couric.

Goldsby notes that when Black Lives Matter activists call attention to victims’ names, they’re also pushing people to think more deeply about individuals’ lives and stories.

See the full interview in the video above.

This interview is part of a special series produced in collaboration with Katie Couric. Read more from TIME Reports with Katie Couric, and sign up for her weekday morning newsletter Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric.

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