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Inquiring Minds

THIS WEEK    |   Listen Online via Zoom    |    Meeting ID 863 9059 0096

Revisiting Our Racial History

The death of George Floyd, an African-American, at the hands of a white career law enforcement officer has led to officer Chauvin being charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. But, more broadly, Floyd’s death calls into question the unequal and unconstitutional treatment of many persons based on race, gender, religion, or sexual preference. Demonstrations by people of all races have joined together in major cities across the nation to protest the long history of unresolved civil rights violations and inequitable treatment of many groups of people. Even when these inequities do not rise to the point of civil or criminal violations, mistreatment and unintentional microaggressions take their toll on the spirit and psyche of unfortunate victims.

Why has it taken so long for our society to recognize and come to terms with this multi-century injustice? As regard to race, some say it starts with an institutional distortion in the teaching of American History. The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia. It is an interactive project with contributions by the paper’s writers, including essays on the history of different aspects of contemporary American life which the authors believe have “roots in slavery and its aftermath. Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the 1619 Project.

Project essays talk about the details of modern American society, such as the way in which slavery has shaped modern capitalism and workplace norms, parallels between pro-slavery politics and the modern right-wing politics, and the assumption that some people inherently deserve more power than others. But, as one might expect, the project has not escaped criticisms from some American historians as an unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history.

  • Do you believe that your American history and related classes provided you with a complete and fair treatment of race and slavery?
  • How has your education shaped your attitudes about race?
  • Do you believe that your family or childhood friends harbored racial biases?
  • If yes, do you suspect that you may be, or have been, influenced by such biases?
  • If not, how do you think you were able to overcome such attitudes?
  • Do you feel a responsibility to promote change in the racially biased attitudes of family and friends? If so, how?
  • Do you think that the demonstrations and protests have helped or hurt their intended cause?
  • Are you weary of the amount of television and news coverage devoted to this issue?
  • What can you do as an individual to promote attitudes of fairness and equality?

Suggested reading

The 1619 Project
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –

Why We Published The 1619 Project
By Jake Silverstein – DEC. 20, 2019 –

Tom Cotton Introduces Bill to Prohibit Federal Funding for Schools Using ‘1619 Project’ Curriculum
Zachary Evans – National Review – July 23, 2020 –

‘The worshipping of whiteness’: why racist symbols persist in America
Alexandra Villarreal in New York – The Guardian June 30, 2020, 4:00 AM EDT –

White Supremacy Shaped American Christianity, Researcher Says
Carol Kuruvilla – HuffPostJuly 26, 2020, 12:00 PM –

Anti-racist college courses would spark diversity awareness | Commentary

Boogaloo Movement of Extremists Aims to Start Another Civil War: Experts
Inside Edition CBS – June 18, 2020, 8:23 AM ED –



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Stephen Hall


Stephen Hall

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