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25 years later and the Rodney King video is still on repeat

Sandra Bass, Asst Dean of Students, Director UC Berkeley Public Service Center | March 7, 2016

Twenty five years ago this month, the video of Rodney King being beaten, clubbed, kicked, and stomped by a gang of police went viral before going viral was a thing. Eighty-nine seconds of unmistakable brutality repeatedly looped, dissected, and discussed. A year later, the defense attorney’s frame-by-frame deconstruction of King’s beating successfully convinced an all … Continue reading »

Harper Lee to Ta-Nehisi Coates: Race in literature in 2015

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | February 21, 2016

Two of the most important books on race released in 2015, the exhumed novel, Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee’s sequel to the award-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates’ long-form letter to his teenage son, Between the World and Me, were published the same day. This fortuitous historical footnote is all … Continue reading »

Racing into the future

john a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | January 2, 2016

“Identity” — Dictionary.com’s “Word of the Year” — was undoubtedly one of the most popular topics of 2015. As what has been called “the year of identity” draws to a close, issues of race remain at the forefront of our nation’s consciousness and reality when it comes to identity. In the past few weeks alone we’ve … Continue reading »

What Trump gets right

john a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | December 15, 2015

How does one make sense of a US presidential candidate calling for the banning of Muslims entering the country and the tracking and profiling of those who live here? How does one make sense of a US Supreme Court justice suggesting that Blacks should not go to top-tier universities? We live in strange times and … Continue reading »

Black by choice?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | July 14, 2015

A couple of weeks back, we witnessed two quite different but intriguing cases of people laying claim to an African-American identity without having the lineage that we generally assume provides that identity – biological descent from African slaves in the United States. These two people were, in effect, asserting that they could choose to be … Continue reading »

Rachel Dolezal’s ‘deception’: What we don’t want to know about racial identity in America

Stephanie Jones-Rogers, assistant professor of history | June 29, 2015

Recently, I was watching television and became captivated by the story of a fascinating woman. She was born to parents who claimed one racial identity, which was affixed to her through infancy, childhood, and adolescence. When she grew to be a woman, she made a choice to become someone else. She divorced herself from everyone … Continue reading »

Why aren’t blacks migrating like they used to?

Sandra Susan Smith, associate professor of sociology | February 24, 2015

In a recent publication in the journal Demography, Patrick Sharkey analyzed patterns of geographic migration of black and white families over four consecutive generations. In prior generations, the NYU sociologist observed patterns of migration consistent with conventional wisdom, with massive outflows of blacks from the South toward cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and eventually the … Continue reading »

Snap decisions and race

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | January 9, 2015

One issue sparking off from the fiery debate around the police shootings of black men is the extent to which Americans simply react negatively to seeing black – whether it is a police officer making a life-and-death split-second decision about the threat a black man poses, a store clerk tracking a black customer in a … Continue reading »

A response to Ferguson: Systemic problems require systemic solutions

john a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | November 25, 2014

Last night, like many across the world who were watching, we experienced deep disappointment in the decision by the St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenage boy, on Aug. 9. Our thoughts are first with the family of Michael Brown and the … Continue reading »

How Many Black Boys Have to Die?

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | August 14, 2014

Although the “facts” are still in dispute, it’s not presumptuous to add Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri to the list of young black men and boys killed by overzealous police or armed civilians: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis and so many more, including young women like Renisha McBride. The … Continue reading »

Opportunity in America: The Problem with the Paul Ryan Plan

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | August 1, 2014

Last week the House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan issued a report on opportunity and poverty in America that has sparked an important national conversation. As a putative Presidential contender for 2016, Rep. Ryan’s report will help shape a discussion that will frame future election cycles as well as the direction of … Continue reading »

Inequality In the Twenty-First Century

john a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | May 2, 2014

As part of his nationwide book tour, French economist Thomas Piketty stopped on campus and in San Francisco last week to speak to overflowing lecture halls. The lecture I attended in San Francisco quickly filled to capacity, and the enthusiasm in the audience was palpable. Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has catapulted … Continue reading »

Fear of a Black President?

Brad DeLong, professor of economics | August 30, 2013

A few thoughts provoked by reading Mann and Ornstein this morning… Barack Obama has, after all, been pursuing Bill Clinton’s gun-control policy, Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy, John McCain’s climate policy, Mitt Romney’s health-care policy, George W. Bush’s immigration policy, the bipartisan Squam Lake Group’s financial-regulatory policy, Bill Clinton’s tax policy, George H.W. Bush’s spending policy, … Continue reading »

Why are whites so pessimistic about the future?

Sandra Susan Smith, associate professor of sociology | August 20, 2013

Americans’ collective mood has been souring. But it so happens that trends in outlook vary substantially by race and ethnicity and in seemingly paradoxical ways. According to a new report, AP-NORC_Public Mood White Malaise But Optimism Among Blacks and Hispanics, while whites are becoming more pessimistic, blacks and Hispanics have been relatively optimistic, and especially … Continue reading »

It’s not George Zimmerman, it’s the system

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | July 19, 2013

Like many Americans, I was deeply – viscerally – disappointed in the Florida jury’s verdict to acquit George Zimmerman. While I can understand how a jury might have at least a sliver of reasonable doubt about Zimmerman’s guilt, since the only other eyewitness to the fight is dead, I am nonetheless deeply saddened by the … Continue reading »

Race and reasonable doubt: Notes from the Sanford, Fla. verdict

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | July 15, 2013

The official media narrative is in.  The acquittal of wanna-bee neighborhood guardian George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin reflects the impenetrable wall that the law and the trial judge set up between the narrow legal questions of culpability and the broad social issues that had animated passions in the case: gun carrying … Continue reading »

Shelby County v. Holder: Extend voting rights nationwide

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | June 29, 2013

On Tuesday, June 25, the Supreme Court rolled back history when it overturned a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was instrumental to nearly 50 years of political and social change.  The Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder opens the floodgates to new forms of voter suppression and discriminatory electoral tactics.  … Continue reading »

The new Southern strategy

john a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | January 30, 2013

When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he told an aide that Democrats had “lost the South for a generation,” anticipating a white backlash in the South. Since the end of Reconstruction, the South had been dominated by the Democratic Party. The national party’s efforts to promote civil rights at the national … Continue reading »