Doctoral Student

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  • Benjamin Foley
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  • Benjamin’s scholarship—sparked from his experience as an activist, academic, and teacher— focuses on how anti-racist and other social justice oriented organizing and discourse interacts with, reaffirms and/or disrupts the social reproduction of power and hierarchy in society. As a theorist of the sociology of racial inequality, his research and teaching draw from critical race, post-colonial, and feminist theory as well as social movements scholarship. Benjamin’s research agenda focuses on the limitations of hyper-individualism—or the reduction of anti-racist practice to a politics of psychology— when imposed on models for social and political change, and introduces a new sociological approach to white anti-racist practice. His dissertation is a historical sociological study of the Young Patriots Organization—a group of poor white migrants from Appalachia who were recruited by the Black Panther Party to join the “Rainbow Coalition” alongside the Young Lords. The Young Patriots rallied for the cause of “oppressed white people” and remarkably utilized both Confederate flag and Black Power imagery. Together with the Black Panthers, they organized protests against police brutality, abusive landlords, and urban renewal projects. They also started free breakfast programs, free medical clinics, and other “survival programs” in their respective communities. His project explores how this heterodoxical coalition complicates our understandings of race and social movements, and offers potential for an alternative modality of anti-racist practice. Benjamin was a 2019-2020 graduate fellow at the Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis. He is also the co-founder and advisory board member of the human rights video advocacy organization, Organization for Visual Progression (now called Catara).