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On statues, and what can and cannot be said

Andrew Shanken, professor of architecture | August 18, 2017

I’ve been loath to write about what’s happening with Confederate statues, but a few sleepless nights cured my diffidence. As an architectural historian who works on memorials and has dabbled in the history of historic preservation, I’ve vacillated over the years between a Ruskinian position (“let it moulder”) and a Rieglian position, trying to establish … Continue reading »

Structural racism in Flint, Michigan

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley | January 18, 2016

On Jan. 16, 2016, President Barack Obama signed an order declaring a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan.[i]  It was not because of a tornado or hurricane, flooding or landslides, as was the case in South Carolina or Mississippi a few weeks before, or any other natural disaster.[ii]  Rather, it was a response to a … Continue reading »

Racing into the future

john a. powell, director, Othering & Belonging Institute | 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, Othering & Belonging Institute | 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 »

The Charleston massacre: What is the meaning of black life in America?

Stephanie Jones-Rogers, assistant professor of history | July 13, 2015

“Was already weary. Was already heavy hearted. Was already tired. Where can we be safe? Where can we be free?” I excerpted these words from a tweet that Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s younger sister) posted on June 18th at 6:49pm, the evening after Dylann Roof walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, … Continue reading »

Racism is not a mental illness

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | June 20, 2015

On Wednesday, a young white man named Dylann Roof killed nine black people at prayer in South Carolina. Some have called it racism. Others say it was a crazy, isolated act. “He was one of these whacked out kids,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “I don’t think it’s anything broader than that.” Does Graham have a … Continue reading »

The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” in 2014

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | January 3, 2015

It’s time once again for our favorite year-end ritual here at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center: Our annual list of the top scientific insights produced by the study of happiness, altruism, mindfulness, gratitude–what we call “the science of a meaningful life.” We found that this year, the science of a meaningful life yielded many … Continue reading »

1964 to the present — a personal perspective

Robert Birgeneau, professor of physics, former chancellor | September 22, 2014

During the historic Free Speech Movement period at Berkeley, beginning in the autumn of 1964, I was a graduate student in physics at Yale University. There was no doubt that Berkeley students were playing a leadership role for us all across the country. At Yale, the focus was primarily on civil rights. Racism and its destructive … Continue reading »

Why Gov. Nixon has to remove prosecutor

Jack Glaser, associate professor of public policy | August 28, 2014

We are a long way from knowing precisely what happened in Ferguson, two weeks ago, but one thing is clear: The town’s name has become yet another synonym for the chasm of experience dividing white and black America. Time and again, young African-American men have been fatally shot by police under ambiguous circumstances: Amadou Diallo, … Continue reading »

Ferguson and human dignity

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | August 27, 2014

Michael Brown was buried Monday (August 25, 2014) in St. Louis, near his hometown of Ferguson, Mo. As the world knows by now, two weeks ago the 18-year-old recent high-school graduate was shot six times and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Michael Brown was unarmed, and the reasons for Officer Wilson’s actions have yet … Continue reading »

How Many Black Boys Have to Die?

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley | 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 »

What does prejudice reveal about what it means to be human?

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | October 22, 2013

The questions raised by racism and xenophobia go straight to the heart of what it means to be human, for they involve dehumanization. Prejudice means we implicitly embrace a definition of humanity that includes some — usually those who most resemble us — and excludes others. That’s why Susan T. Fiske was invited to speak … Continue reading »

Can patriotism be compassionate?

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | July 2, 2013

Feeling ambivalent about the Fourth of July? You’re not alone. “I don’t mean love, when I say patriotism,” writes Ursula K. Le Guin in her classic 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness. “I mean fear. The fear of the other. And its expressions are political, not poetical: hate, rivalry, aggression.” In some corners, patriotism … Continue reading »