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Deep Roots of Racial Injustice Draw Us to the Case for Reparations

Deep Roots of Racial Injustice Draw Us to the Case for Reparations
Presented by David Peritz, PhD

Sunday, October 17, 2021
Zoom at 2pm-4pm PST
RSVP by 10/16/2021

Cost: $25.00

Register here

Some 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., buoyed by a powerful social movement winning landmark victories, famously intoned: “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice!” But recently King’s confidence appears less warranted, and the American path towards racial justice much more of a curvy road. Many Americans supported a recent President’s ‘white nationalist’ agenda and his legitimization of white racial resentment against policies designed to counteract centuries of oppression of African Americans, an increasingly strident anti-immigrant rallying call (“Build the wall!”), and most recently a rising wave of anti-Asian violence. And yet, it is hard not to be encouraged by the sustained and widespread protests, as well as less uniform but promising reforms in policing, that responded to the death of George Floyd.

To come to grips with the complexity of race in contemporary America, we will:

Contemplate not only our complicated history but also what we can do here and now to contribute to racial justice and a better future.

Examine the remarkable transformations the American racial order has undergone over the last century, as the Jim Crow system was gradually dismantled, and a substantial African American middle class and elite emerged.

Seek to understand how recent gains do not mark the dismantling so much as the reorganization of the American racial order: race remains the most salient predictor of social fate for Americans’ health, life expectancy, education, earnings, home-ownership, status within the criminal justice system and wealth. Further, a substantial portion of white Americans experiences a deep sense of moral existential threat from the demographic and cultural changes we are currently undergoing, and seek to resist it politically. What does the ambivalent present bode for America’s racial future?

Examine the unsteady march of racial justice in American history, and focus on the ways in which present racial inequality are the product of policies designed to produce precisely this result, policies that cannot be confined to the recent past but instead that remain effective at structuring social life today.