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Processing Privilege and Moving to Action: Watch, Listen, Explore

By Brooklyn Historical Society

Posted on June 10, 2020

Conversations to Inspire as We Grapple with Our Long History of Racism, Part 3

This is the final of three blog posts that share recordings of past conversations that took place live at BHS. You can see the first post — “Confronting a History of Injustice” — here, and the second post — “Structural Racism in America” — here. We hope that together, they serve as prompts for each individual’s evolving insights about race, and that they spark frank discussion and spur action.

In the midst of this watershed moment in American history there is a great deal to be learned about race and racism by the vast majority of Americans, particularly white Americans. As Robin DiAngelo writes in White Fragility, part of the insidiousness of white supremacy is that it is socially acceptable to deny its existence. She says “But whiteness… is a category of identity that is most useful when its very existence is denied. That’s its twisted genius. Whiteness embodies Charles Baudelaire’s admonition that ‘the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.’”

A foundational step to dismantling racism is acknowledging and discussing white privilege, white supremacy, and race. The following eight programs tackle these subjects from a variety of perspectives, and look to actions that may affect change.

Talking About Race and Privilege

Reckoning with Racism: Michael Eric Dyson and Heather McGhee | Watch

October 18, 2019 – White Supremacy. Microaggressions. Black Lives Matter. Reparations. The issues are urgent, the conversation is moving at breakneck speed, but is our country heading forward, or backward? Author, speaker, pastor and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson and Heather McGhee, former head of Demos and Brooklyn Community Foundation Fair and Just Fellow, discussed America’s essential race question.

Take Your Feet Off Our Necks: Implicit Bias in the Workplace |  Listen

February 26, 2020 – Professional accomplishments notwithstanding, women and people of color all too often face microaggression, diminution, and exclusion in a workforce that equates white collar with white male. This program unpacked race-based and gender-based workplace discrimination with Tsedale Melaku, author of You Don’t Look Like a Lawyer, Vincent Southerland, Executive Director of NYU’s Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, and Jamia Wilson, publisher of the Feminist Press. Moderated by Erica Chito Childs, Chairman of Sociology at Hunter College.

Claudia Rankine and Alondra Nelson in Conversation | Watch

November 16, 2016 – Poet, playwright, and essayist Claudia Rankine writes about everyday racism with a raw sensitivity. Her fifth volume, Citizen: An American Lyric, won both the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN Literary Award. Rankine discussed her work with then Columbia University Dean of Social Science Alondra Nelson, whose powerful writings about race include her widely praised book, The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome.

Jelani Cobb: Civil Rights, Ferguson, and Race in America | Watch

February 5, 2015 – Jelani Cobb, the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University and staff writer at The New Yorker, discussed civil rights and contemporary race relations in America in connection with Episode 6: A More Perfect Union (1968-2013) of the Peabody Award-winning PBS series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

A Conversation About Conversations About Race | Watch

November 19, 2014 – A discussion between Baratunde Thurston (How to Be Black), Tanner Colby (Some of My Best Friends Are Black), and Raquel Cepeda (Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina) on our never-ending, circular, and stagnant “National Conversation About Race.”


Sowing Resolution: The Case for Reparations in Action | Watch 

October 2, 2019 – A panel of experts unpack the notion of reparations broadly, examine various forms that reparations might take, and look at one concrete example happening today. New York Times contributing writer Rachel Swarns led this conversation with Adam Rothman, Georgetown University professor of history and principal curator of the Georgetown Slavery Archive; Mélisande Short-Colomb, student activist and descendant of the GU272; and Katherine Franke, author of Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition and Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University.

No Ashes in the Fire with author Darnell Moore | Watch

August 2, 2018 – Writer, activist, and leader in the Movement for Black Lives Darnell Moore shares this personal memoir of growth and survival. Beginning with his childhood in Camden, NJ, and encompassing formative experiences in Philadelphia, his current life in Bed-Stuy, and activism in places like Ferguson, MO, Moore’s story is interwoven with the broader narrative of life in the margins of American society: blackness, queerness, urban life, inequality, and poverty. Moore is joined in conversation by writer, artist, and Editor-in-Chief of RaceBaitR, Hari Ziyad.

Taking a Knee: Sports and Activism with Dave Zirin and Rembert Browne | Watch

April 10, 2018 – When Colin Kaepernick made a statement by kneeling during the national anthem, he joined a long line of sports figures that have protested racism through their gestures and actions. Bleacher Report contributor Rembert Browne and The Nation’s Dave Zirin discuss the platform these athletes have and the swirling debate around their actions.

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