The past year saw the largest sustained protests against racism in the nation’s history. Blacks and whites demonstrated in the streets of hundreds of cities and towns specifically against police violence. But it was the systemic racism so pervasive throughout US society that became the focus. Will 2021 finally be the year when systemic changes will actually happen?
Three philosophers, all active in anti-racism struggles, will discuss combating racism. Lewis Gordon has written extensively on Africana and Black existentialism, postcolonial phenomenology, race and racism as well as the thought of Frantz Fanon and W.E.B.DuBois He teaches at the University of Connecticut where he heads the Department. An early book was Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism. Gordon’s newest book just out is Freedom, Justice and Decolonialization<.
Fred Evans is professor emeritus in the philosophy department at Duquesne University. He is the author of several books, most recently Public Art and the Fragility of Democracy: An Essay in Political Aesthetics.
For 40 years Cliff DuRand taught at historically Black Morgan State University. A founder of the Center for Global Justice, he has published two books: Moving Beyond Capitalism and Recreating Democracy in a Globalized State.
Race is socially constructed rather than biologically given. Thus it is not an essential quality of a person. Racism is also a socially constructed rejection of the humanity of other human beings. Since other human beings are human, racism is a contradiction of reality. But racism is more than an attitude or belief. It is a reality that is built into institutions and laws. Thus eliminating racism requires structural changes in society as well as changes in consciousness.
Black Lives Matter is an affirmation that Blacks are also entitled to have their inherent worth and dignity recognized. White privilege means that those with white skin receive benefits that are denied to others. Does this mean they are guilty of racism? What is white supremacy? What is white culture? What is Whiteness? For that matter, what is Blackness? These are among the issues that will be discussed.