Fifty years after the landmark passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the United States is still a country marked by pervasive racial inequalities – in the areas of education, employment, health care, incarceration rates, and household wealth, among many others. What explains these continuing racial inequalities, and how, if at all, should a just society respond to them? There is currently considerable discussion and debate over the proper role that considerations of race should play in the formation of public policy and in related efforts on the part of individuals and institutions to achieve a more just and equitable society. While some argue that we have transcended race and should aspire to ideals of color-blindness, others argue that race is still a significant determinant of unjust social and economic outcomes and that we cannot adequately deal with these injustices without addressing issues of race. The main goal of this year-long interdisciplinary symposium is to explore these complex ethical questions, by looking carefully both at the mechanisms underlying continuing racial inequalities and at the ways in which these mechanisms may both reflect and contribute to various forms of social injustice.
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2014 - 2015 Speakers and Events
Ann MorningAssociate Professor of Sociology at New York University
Ann Morning is an Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University and a faculty affiliate of New York University Abu Dhabi. Her research interests include race, demography, and the sociology of science, especially as they pertain to census classification worldwide and to individuals’ concepts of racial difference.
Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, and Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, is a prominent legal theorist who has made an international reputation by taking a hard look at complex issues of law and by working to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution for everyone equally under the law.
Martha Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, appointed in the Law School and Philosophy Department.
Phillip Atiba GoffAssociate Professor of Social Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Goff is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the co-founder and president for research of the Center for Policing Equity.
Jesmyn WardPaul and Debra Gibbons Professor of Creative Writing at Tulane University
Jesmyn Ward's novel Salvage the Bones won the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction, and has been called “fearless and toughly lyrical” (The Library Journal).
Tommie ShelbyProfessor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy at Harvard University
Tommie Shelby holds a joint appointment with the Department of African and African American Studies and Philosophy at Harvard University. He received his B.A. from Florida A & M University (1990) and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (1998).
Civil rights attorney Juan Cartagena will give a talk entitled “The Noose, the Hoodie and the State,” in which he will explicate the multitude of ways in which our criminal justice system is structured to deny justice to Latinos.
Vincent Valdez’s work consists of large-scale hyper-realistic oil and pastel works that focus on subjects with socio-political themes. In The Strangest Fruit series, Valdez explores the widespread lynching of people of Mexican descent in Texas between 1848 and 1928.