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2015 was another difficult year for race relations in the US, and this discussion looks at some of the key developments of the past year. David Theo Goldberg and Linda Martin Alcoff both published fascinating books about race recently, and join PBC for a wide-ranging conversation.Prof. Alcoff’s new book is The Future of Whiteness. Past president of the American Philosophical Association, she previously taught at Syracuse University and is now a professor of Philosophy at Hunter College.
Prof. Goldberg’s new book is Debating Race: Are we all postracial yet? Born and raised in South Africa, he has degrees in law, economics and philosophy, and he is a professor of Comparative Literature and Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine.
We open with a briefing on each book. Alcoff talks about “whiteness” and the insecurity many white Americans feel as demographic shifts undercut the power and influence that’s been presumed for centuries. We discuss how “whiteness” is not generally included in conversations about race in America.
Goldberg’s book is a freewheeling meditation on the notion–advanced by many conservatives–that since we elected a black president, America is now “postracial”. Goldberg assails that notion from many angles, and argues that postracialism itself is an insidious form of racism.
With their perspectives somewhat defined, we shift to a conversation about some of the race-related events of the past year. We talk about the protests at Princeton and the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson; Alcoff compares this controversy to Washington & Lee University, which she devoted a chapter to in her book. We talk about the removal of the confederate flag from the capitol in South Carolina, police killings and the Black Lives Matter movement; Justice Scalia’s remarks from the bench about the academic prowess of African-Americans, and the rise of Donald Trump, using an array of racist attacks.
Both books are published by Polity.