Scholars partake in post-racial discussions

Sara Blair Matthews
News Editor

The Post-Racial America?: An Interdisciplinary Conversation Conference explored the ability of society to move past its previous racial differences. The Conference took place on Nov. 9 and 10 in the Vaughan Literature Building and included remarks from keynote speaker Farah Jasmine Griffin, who is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University. The Conference had 20 speakers from all over the region, the United States, Canada and Brazil. The Griot Institute for Africana Studies hosted the event.

“The purpose of the event was to explore, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the idea of a post-racial America. This conference was designed as a conversation among scholars from a number of areas of study, to examine this and related ideas through the intersections in their work,” Griot Assistant Coordinator Rebecca Willoughby said.

The conference began with dinner from 7-9 p.m. in the Hunt Formal dining room. The event included the keynote address from Griffin. “Griffin focused specifically on two contemporary black women in the national spotlight – Michelle Obama and Beyonce Knowles – and discussed their racial identity in terms of the creation of their public persona,” said first year English Graduate Student Eve Marie Blasinsky. 

The next day’s events included four sessions, which were each divided into two panel discussions, that began at 9:30 a.m. and lasted until 4:30 p.m. Each panel discussion focused on a different post-racial question. Some of the topics included lived experiences, racial aesthetics and conceptual thinking, race and politics, race and media as well as gender and identity.

The conference also included remarks from University faculty, such as Thomas Alexander, associate dean of students for diversity, and Bridget Newell, associate provost for diversity.

“I was impressed by the diversity of responses brought forward to the broad question of post-raciality. I think the conference lived up to its name of being a “conversation”, rather than merely a set of independent speakers expressing their views,” said first year Blasinsky.

Willoughby believes the term “Post-Racial America” is often controversial and invokes different responses from many academics.

“Some academics are using this term to describe a society in which race is no longer an issue; other scholars disagree with the implications of the term and whether we are, in fact, living in such a society,” Willoughby said. “As you might imagine, this is an especially salient topic in the wake of the last two elections.”

The event was open to the public, and registration was $55 and included two dinners. Students were also able to attend the conference and could register on either Nov. 9 or 10 for a fee of $25.

“Everyone who I spoke to was very impressed by Bucknell’s campus as well as by its hospitality,” said Blasinsky. 

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