Hooks Policy Papers

The Hooks Institute Policy Papers use national conversations about critical civil and human rights issues as a starting point to discuss and propose solutions to, contemporary issues of race, class, public policy, and social justice. 

Printed copies of the Hooks Institute Policy Papers are available. Contact bhievents@memphis.edu for details.


The Promise and Peril: Unpacking the Impact of AI and Automation on Marginalized Communities

Read the 2023 Policy Papers > Policy Papers 2023 Cover

The 2023 Policy Papers analyze the impact of AI and automation on marginalized communities in three crucial areas.

  • In "Regulating Facial Recognition Technology to Reduce Bias" Khortlan Becton, JD, MTS, explores the urgent need to regulate AI to eradicate existing and potential policies and practices that dispro-portionately discriminate against African Americans and minorities. Becton proposes the creation of a new federal agency to regulate AI.
  • In "Automation and Artificial Intelligence in the Field of Social Work: Understanding Technology in Practice" Susan Elswick, EdD, LCSW, a faculty member in the University of Memphis School of Social Work, seeks a path to us-ing AI and Automation to provide social work counseling to those in need. Elswick not only explores how effective cli-ent counseling is dependent upon access and ability to use technology by clients but also argues that social workers require formal training from institutions of higher learning on how to use AI and automation to benefit their clients.
  • In "The Impact of Automation on Our Workforce" Meka Egwuekwe, MS, founder and executive director of Code Crew, approaches AI and automation from the per-spective of a practitioner who teaches others to write computer code. Recognizing that the world is experiencing a revolution in how work is performed, Egwuekwe proposes recommendations that reskill or upskill the workforce, increased support for startups and small businesses, and a societal framework that will embrace universal basic income as a resource to aid those displaced by AI and Automation.


Hooks Institute Policy Papers Presentation: "Race in the Time of COVID"

Race in the time of COVID-19 assesses the impact of the pandemic on exacerbating educational, health, and employment inequalities and the loss of intergenerational wealth among African Americans who have disproportionately died because of COVID-19.

Policy Papers 2021 Cover

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The Hooks Institute 2021 Policy Papers address the myriad ways that the ongoing global health crisis has exposed existing injustices in our society, including:

  • "COVID-19 and Evictions in Memphis" by Andrew Guthrie (UofMemphis City and Regional Planning), Courtnee Melton-Fant (UofMemphis Division of Health Systems Management and Policy) and Katherine Lambert-Pennington (UofMemphis Department of Anthropology) reveals pockets of social marginalization and economic vulnerability in Shelby County, focusing on susceptibility to evictions.
  • "Race and COVID: Illuminating Inequities in Education" by Cardell Orrin (Stand for the Children) and Kelsey Jirikils (Freedom Preparatory Academy) highlights how the pandemic more clearly revealed the vast disparities in resources available to students throughout Shelby County.
  • "COVID-19 and Work: Employment Disparities Magnified" by Elena Delavega (UofMemphis Department of Social Work) and Gregory M. Blumenthal (GMBS Consulting) quantifies how the pandemic's work disruptions fell most harshly on the most vulnerable, a group made up disproportionately of racial and ethnic minorities.
  • "COVID-19 Reveals the Power - and Limits - of Collective Will" by Daniel Kiel (UofMemphis Law School) examines the emergency policy responses to the pandemic's most urgent social needs, such as evictions and unemployment benefits and how it took the shocks of COVID-19 to make them viable policy options.
  • "Through a Glass Darkly: Musings on the Harsh Realities of COVID-19 Social Determinants of Health in the Age of Pandemic" by Albert Mosley (Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare)" highlights racial disparities in hospitalizations, mortalities, and vaccination rates, lamenting that such distressing statistics were entirely predictable given community history with systemic racism that ensured economic and educational disparities.
  • "Life After Death: COVID-19's Impact on the Wealth of African American Families" by Daphene R. McFerren (Hooks Institute) describes the deterioration of wealth that results when individuals pass away without a will or proper direction as to how to distribute their estate, a problem made tragically more vital during the pandemic.


Let Every Voice Be Heard: Protecting the Right to Vote and American Democracy

  • Shanna Singh Hughey and Dawn Schluckebier "Voting with Conviction: Voting Rights and Voting Restoration in Tennessee"
  • Mitchell Brown "The Criminalization of the Ballot Box: Navigating the Rise of Voter Prosecutions, Charting a Path of Resistance"
  • Rev. Earle Fisher and Sijuwola Crawford "#UPTheVote901 and the Fight for Democracy in Memphis/Shelby County"


Land, Economic Mobility and Race | The Tale of Two Nations: One Rich, One Poor | Hooks Institute Open House and Policy Papers Presentation

  • “A Memphis Mirage: How Home Mortgage Alternatives and Increased Equity Firm Ownership Diminish Wealth in Low-Income Communities” by Wade Rathke (founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and Diné Butler examines how large equity firms diminished home wealth in low-income neighborhoods in Memphis and the nation in the years following the Great Recession.
  • “Workplace Setting and Job Types as Detriments of Health Disparities” by Dr. Shelly White-Means (University of Tennessee Health Science Center) looks at the impact of workplace settings and job types on health disparities.
  • “Economic Challenges Facing Black Men and Boys” by William R. Emmons, Ana H. Kent and Lowell R. Ricketts (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis) identifies solutions to create, sustain and advance the economic mobility of men and boys of color, who are more likely to experience downward economic mobility even if born into wealth. The views expressed do not reflect official positions of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis or the Federal Reserve System.


Climbing Out from Under the Rock: Restoring Civil Rights, Economics, and Social Justice in Memphis and the Nation


Bending the Arc Toward Justice: Including the Excluded. 2017 Hooks Institute Policy Papers

  • Michael R. Duke, PhD. Immigrants in Small Cities: Opportunities and Challenges
  • Peter A. Kindle, PhD, CPA, LMSW. Welfare Dependency and Extractive Economies: Lessons Learned from Pine Ridge
  • Idia B. Thurston, PhD. Prioritizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Lives in the Era of Resistance and Prejudicial Rhetoric
  • Nabil A. Bayakly,PhD. Memphis and Islam: Integrating Muslims and Islam into the Community Fabric
  • Daphene R. McFerren, JD; Elena Delavega,PhD, MSW, Executive Summary


Race, Class, and Social Justice in Memphis: A Call to Bridge the Great Divide. 2016 Hooks Institute Policy Papers


A Call for Collective Action: Tackling Social Challenges in Memphis. 2014 Hooks Institute Policy Papers

  • Gregory Washington, PhD, MSW. What are the Social Conditions that Contribute to the Disproportionate Confinement of Young African-American Males in Memphis?
  • Elena Delavega, PhD, MSW. Pouring Water on the Wicked Poverty of the Mid-South: Educating a Quality Workforce
  • John Gnuschke, PhD. Fifty Years of Progress but Only Halfway Home