From Freedom Summer to Ferguson: Why we need a new culture of belonging
There is a need for an alternative vision, a beloved community where being connected to the other is seen as the foundation of a healthy self, not its destruction, and where the racial other is seen not as the infinite other, but rather as the other that is always and already a part of us. Even aspirations like these are not enough, however; visions must be reflected in social structures and institutions, or they remain merely dreams deferred.
~John A. Powell
As humanity faces ever-evolving changes in the 21st century, our fear of the “Other” can be magnified by unstable contracting economies, radically shifting racial demographics, new social norms, and a retrenchment in political speech and human rights. How, then, do we move from disconnected, fearful individuals to connected, collective agents of change? What are the relationships among concentrated corporate power, lack of government oversight, and fractured social movements? John A. Powell, University of California Berkeley professor of law, African American studies and ethnic studies, will provide insights based on decades of research and activism in the areas of race, structural racism, ethnicity, housing, poverty, and democracy.
Powell is the Executive Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, which supports research to generate specific prescriptions for changes in policy and practice that address disparities related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomics in California and nationwide. In addition, to being a Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Powell holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion. He was recently the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University and held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law. Under his direction, the Kirwan Institute has emerged as a national leader on research and scholarship related to race, structural racism, racialized space and opportunity. He has been a leader in developing an “opportunity-based” housing model that provides a critical and creative framework for thinking about affordable housing, racialized space, and the many ways that housing influences other opportunity domains including education, health, health care, and employment.
“We have a history of not just the police, but the state, the law enforcement agencies, disrespecting black life. And it’s disrespected in hundreds of ways. … We live in a system in which black life is devalued. … We still have not come to full recognition of blacks and other people as full citizens, as full people. We literally do not see a number of young black men as human beings.”
~ John A. Powell