We need to talk about race. Race has been central to all of American history, but for the country’s white majority it has not always been obviously so. Americans have told themselves many stories about their country’s racial divide over the centuries, and these stories have often been designed to hide or avoid confronting the issue. The past decade or so has made that impossible.
First came the election of the first African-American president and the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Then, as if in reaction, Donald Trump emerged – a president who barely tries to disguise his racism or attempts to use racism to mobilize political support. The overall effect has been discombobulating. One day you can convince yourself that the national conversation is at least heading in the right direction, with more awareness than ever of racial inequality. And then on another things can seem like they’re getting so, so much worse.
My guest, Marcia Chatelain, is the perfect person with whom to discuss these issues. Professor Chatelain is a prominent scholar of race and ethnicity in America. As well as writing two books on African-American history, she tirelessly travels the U.S. speaking about race, gender and ethnicity. After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, in 2014, Professor Chatelain mobilized other scholars to create the #FergusonSyllabus, which saw her named a top influencer by the Chronicle of Higher Education. We had a great conversation, and I hope you enjoy it.