Stand Your Ground explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original “duty to retreat” from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her rigorous genealogy, Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories—from the original “castle laws” of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of “criminal” Black bodies during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.
In this convincing treatise on the United States’ unprecedented ascension as the world’s foremost stand-your-ground nation, Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable.
Caroline Light is director of undergraduate studies in the Program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of That Pride of Race and Character: The Roots of Jewish Benevolence in the Jim Crow South.
Dr. Light will be interviewed by WBUR's Karyn Miller-Medzon. Miller-Medzon came to WBUR as senior writer for Morning Edition while the Supreme Court was deciding whether to award the presidency to Al Gore or George Bush.
She worked on the show for about three years, before moving to Here & Now, where she enjoys covering medicine, science, politics and social issues.
A history of America's Stand Your Ground gun laws, from Reconstruction to Trayvon Martin