After Racialism

Apr 24, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Guyot Hall 10



Event Description

Debates over race and racism — their importance to U.S. history, their salience for present-day politics, and what steps the government should take to address them — are central to our politics. While there is widespread agreement that the state of race relations in America is a matter of urgent concern, there is deep disagreement over the nature of the problem. Is it the persistence of racial disparities in income, wealth, and elite representation, regardless of whether they’re the product of state-enforced racial discrimination or the uneven distribution of social capital across families and informal networks at a given point in time? Or is the problem the brightness of the boundaries separating minority ethnic groups from the societal mainstream? Call this the distinction between anti-racists and anti-racialists. Both want racial progress, but they have drastically different understandings of what racial progress would look like. As anti-racist ideology has grown pervasive in elite liberal institutions, from universities to the media to the leadership of the Democratic Party, critics have warned that an obsessive focus on racial disparities and differences represents a threat to integration and civic harmony. What would it take to move American public life beyond racialism, and what new dilemmas and cultural formations might emerge if racialism were to recede?

Reihan Salam is the fifth president of the Manhattan Institute, a research and advocacy organization that advances opportunity, individual liberty, and the rule of law in American cities. He was a 2010 Bernard L. Schwarz Fellow at the New America Foundation and a 2015 Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago. Mr. Salam is the author of Melting Pot or Civil War? (Sentinel, 2018) and the co-author, with Ross Douthat, of Grand New Party (Doubleday, 2008). He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a contributing editor at National Affairs and National Review, and a political commentator for CNN. A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Salam serves on the Public Scholars Advisory Committee at the Moynihan Center at The City College of New York, the Advisory Council of The Public Interest Fellowship, and the Advisory Board of Harvard Alumni for Free Speech.

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Lecture Series
The Annual Elizabeth M. Whelan Lecture