PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A new discussion series at Brown University promises to probe the origins, history and enduring contemporary effects of racism in America.
The series, titled “Race &” in America, will examine throughout the 2020-21 academic year the ways in which racism shapes multiple facets of society — from public health to democracy to punishment — through discussions with experts at Brown and beyond. It is curated by the University’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA) and the Office of the Provost.
CSREA Director Tricia Rose said that faculty and staff leaders at Brown convened the series because the depths and complexities of racism demand investigation and exposure — especially as millions more Americans begin to develop a deeper understanding of the detrimental effects of systemic racism on communities of color.
“It has always been disappointing to me how little we talk about race in a serious and meaningful way — a way that forces us to seek change,” said Rose, a professor of Africana studies. “The murder of George Floyd seems to have become a tipping point... It’s important that we convene a frank conversation about race now. It’s a definitive force in the world.”
The ”Race &” series is one of a growing number of efforts at Brown to address anti-Black racism within and beyond the campus community. The University, with its own well-documented ties to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, has long sought to address the enduring presence and impact of racism and bias on campus. Following the killing of Floyd and countless others in 2020, University President Christina H. Paxson shared plans to redouble those efforts, forming a task force on anti-Black racism, establishing a seed fund for research that confronts issues facing Black communities, improving educational opportunities for underrepresented students in Providence, and hosting an increased number of race-focused discussions and events.
The ”Race &” series kicked off on Wednesday, Sept. 9, with a discussion on racial slavery in the U.S. and beyond.
In introducing the discussion, University Provost Richard M. Locke said he believes that all higher education institutions have a part to play in confronting anti-Black racism, but none more so than Brown — an institution that paved the way for other universities when it began to grapple with its historic ties to the slave trade more than 15 years ago.
“Brown in particular has the privilege and responsibility to be a force for necessary change,” Locke said. “Through our research and teaching, we can and must be an agent for advancing knowledge and creating increased awareness around the enduring legacy of anti-Black racism in the U.S. We hope to create the kind of meaningful discussion on racism and bias that needs to happen on and off campus.”
The inaugural event featured insights on the history and legacy of Black slavery from Anthony Bogues, director of Brown’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice; Emily Owens, an assistant professor of history; and Seth Rockman, an associate professor of history.
Subsequent discussions will take place at 12 noon on the first Wednesday of each month through April 2021, with the next event focused on “Race and Public Health” on Oct. 7. All events will be live-streamed via the web and are open to the public, with advance registration required.
Additional details are available at www.brown.edu/about/administration/provost/race-america.