Charlottesville: Perspectives on the Origins and Implications of White Nationalism in the U.S.

Charlottesville: Perspectives on the Origins and Implications of White Nationalism in the U.S.

so thank you and thank you for everybody for joining us here tonight I think this is going to be a really interesting panel as you probably know it's titled Charlottesville perspectives on the origins and implications of white nationalism in the u.s. just to give you a little bit of background this is part of a series called reaffirming University values that the provost Richard Locke and I started last year and in a letter to the Brown community last year announcing the series the provo stated the following that I want to repeat here so you get the idea through a series of lectures and workshops we will consider how to cultivate an environment in which we as a community can discuss conflicting values and controversial issues in constructive and engaging ways so last year for those of you who who weren't here we talked about many different things we did we had lectures on free speech on campus on civil disobedience science denial Islamophobia refugee policy and a number of other issues and later this semester we will hear from Columbia University professor mark Lilla and several Brown faculty members charles laura moore and Poorna singh on identity liberalism so today the topic is the set of issues that were raised by the Charlottesville incident and as I said yesterday at convocation my immediate reaction to Charlottesville was anger and horror followed by the realization that I needed to learn more about the historical and political context that generated that really dreadful weekend unfortunately as we all know hate groups and racialized violence are not new phenomenon and you know maybe it's the optimist to me speaking but I I thought after Charlottesville that maybe perhaps this was the incident that might be the watershed moment that would provoke a deep examination of white nationalism in America maybe maybe and it may not happen in the rest of the country but it might as well happen right here at Brown and I hope that we can begin to do this today know what this panel isn't on we are not here to talk about the specifics of what happened that day that weekend we are not here to talk about the political response the following week that could come up in Q&A and that's fine if you want to but that's not what we've asked the panelists to focus on instead what we asked them to do was to think about and talk about the more nuanced and contextualized issues around Charlottesville's so that we can understand better what happened why it happened and and what we can do about it going forward I know that I have many many questions and I'm sure many of you do too when I think about that weekend I think about things like you know why our Confederate statues memorials still so prominent in this country in the south and why are they now now as opposed to other times at the center of conflict what was the meaning of these memorials to groups when they were erected how do they impact people who live with them walk by them sit near them every day what are the historical forces that fuel anti-black anti-immigrant anti-jewish anti-muslim sentiments that we see coming out of white nationalism and what role has the state played perhaps in legitimating violence based on race religion immigration status and other things and what does charlottesville say about how our society is structured and what we can do to change it I know that this is one short panel and these are many many very big questions that I know that they're more out there and we will only be able to scratch the surface here what I hope though is that this is the beginning of a set of conversations that will take place throughout the year and also to give all of you especially students just a sense of the types of issues and the types of scholarship that our faculty are working on here at Brown so what we've done we've invited several faculty members from a range of areas of scholarship to speak about these issues each of them has exactly seven minutes each to give a short talk on what they think people most need to know coming out of Charlottesville and then we'll have time for Q&A not to cut into the time I'm not going to give the typical long biographical sketch of each person they're all Brown faculty members and you can read about them all online hopefully you'll be taking their courses and I'll just say a few words about them now in the order in which they'll speak the first is professor Bonnie Honig they're seated from from right to left she's the Nancy Duke Lewis professor in the department's of modern culture and media and political science she's currently serving as the interim director of the Pembroke Center I asked her to do this she told me she couldn't she had to leave early she'll try to come back later but what she has to say is important enough that I really wanted her here so I'm glad she could do it next to Bonnie is Professor Michael Warren Berg he's associate professor of history I want to note that he was actually a member of Brown steering committee on slavery and justice that produced the report that I hope all of you have taken some time to look at next is Professor Emily Owens she is assistant professor of history and a faculty fellow at the Center for the Study of slavery and justice then professor Monica munos Martinez she is the Stanley J Berenstein assistant professor of American Studies in ethnic studies and a faculty fellow with the John Nicholas brown Center for the public humanities finally we'd not finally but next on this bench we have professor Maud Mandel she's professor of history and Judaic Studies and Dean of the college professor dawn Tomasi he's the romeo alton professor of natural theology and professor of political science and director of the political theory project you're getting the idea that people at Brown often wear many hats professor Tricia Rose the Chancellor's professor of Africana Studies and director of the Center for the Study of race in Ephesus in America so please join me in welcoming our panelists [Applause] [Applause] okay hi I have a PowerPoint that lets me say more faster so it's your first week you guys just got here mostly and you see that we're hitting the ground running I want to talk to you today about effect citizenship in the daca inclusive sense of political belonging and public things by effect I mean things like anger care concern by citizenship I mean working together to build power and equality in a democracy by public things I mean the furniture of democratic life the contested statues of civil war heroes in the South are not public things many were installed by private groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy with no public debate vote or accountability such groups colonize public space with objects that send a message about who counts as the public whose history gets commemorated who's in charge claiming public space for themselves was also the aim of the unite the right organizers in Virginia who noted the importance of coming out being seen and working together in real life we don't have the camaraderie one said we don't have the trust level that our rivals do and that camaraderie and Trust is built up through our activism images from Charlottesville bore him out depicting not only the anger militant and frightening that I expected to see but also startling scenes of me care and mutual aid in one a man poured milk over another's face to counter the effects of mace then gently tilted his fellow Nazis chin in his hand and asked is that better watching these men enjoy care and attention in public listening to them claim camaraderie I began to see them as longing for citizenship in the last half-century US citizenship has been thinned out our sense of shared overlapping and contending and conflicting purpose replaced by law neutral procedure and the importance of listening to all sides these latter commitments may express admirable virtues like tolerance and fairness but they can also serve the procedural ism the neutrality as a bright neon sign of values vacancy that advertises the D vitalization of public life chanting Jews will not replace a the men at that March United around horrifying values rather than none gathered together in public they created conditions for mutual care rather than isolation they were coming out they said showing up part of a larger whole having a great time they wanted to see and be seen in public ironically the public they want to access now is one that whites have abandoned over the last few decades take for example public pools they were once a white middle-class delight well supported by public funds after they were integrated though suddenly private pools became popular the same with public schools after integration or desegregation often comes white disinvestment and abandonment of the public thing going private is better here neoliberalism which prefers privatization for its own reasons aligns with white supremacy which wants control decades after abandoning rather than integrating public life emboldened by a president and a party that coddled rather than condemned them white supremacist now want the public back but without the divisions and conflicts that vivify public life they want the public without the politics that is a dangerous dream of every ethno nationalists as we know from the political theorist Hannah Arendt a German Jewish refugee who talked about our obligation to share the world with others for our political action means joining with others across difference and it's fulfilling and exciting erecting our toppling statue staging theater mounting protests running for office joining groups are expressions of care and concern for a common world without them we're at risk Arendt drew on her experience in 1930s Germany she saw how the Nazis made gains because people acquiesced many were afraid or busy they didn't want to be political and soon it was too late Arendt experiences echoed in the words of the Charlottesville activist today there's a Jewish story about a great European rabbi of remarkable faith the man went to sleep every night with his shoes arranged just so by his bed why his students asked do you do that what's with the shoes he wanted to be ready the rabbi said in case the Messiah turned up in the middle of the night Aaron wants us to cultivate that kind of readiness for politics she was always on the alert for any sign that the ball had been dropped take the Declaration of Independence drafted by Jefferson UVA founder we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal now we know about the ironies of this lofty phrase authored by a slave holder and aimed only at propertied white males but Arendt who was sometimes deaf to the nuances of racial politics noticed something else why say both that we hold these truths and that they're self-evident which is it either the truth is self-evident in which case we don't need to hold it or we hold it in which case it is not self-evident Arendt argued that Jefferson made a mistake when he reached for the certainty of self evidence all men are created equal is a political claim and it depends on us holding it we hold means we promise we care were in it together as equals Jefferson got that part right she said so did two boys Baldwin Rustin and many more they all invite us to become a we a community that holds ourselves together but building a community is kind of like learning a new dance at first were clumsy and step on each other's toes we need not to get too mad about that when that happens and we need time to learn the steps and practice them we practice on the streets and at university and that is why those men marched at a university because universities are places of holding without self-evident guarantees our commitment is to think to think critically about the obvious aspirationally about the fixed historically about the settled we are not liberal ideological or partisan we do not indoctrinate we seek understanding and we do not teach both sides because there are never only two sides those people who marched on you the AC the University is a battlefield recently white supremacists tried to get a classicist fired for daring to say that all those ancient white mark statues that we admire were originally painted in bright colors historically she said a cult of whiteness had sprung up around the statues but it rested on an error she got death threats we need university administrators I'm glad you're here we need university administrators to help secure the conditions that underwrite the university's mission these conditions are not mere and more freedom in a neutral zone it is not enough to say we don't agree with her views but we defend her right to say it that's pretty good though I'll take that but it's even better to be ready shoes by the bed ready to say we reject the drive-by efforts of unauthorized parties with their own partisan agendas to target our community and we will not respond to them that is not our mission the last thing I'm gonna say five days after the Charlottesville violence the UVA students reclaimed their space to the men who chanted on their campus you will not replace us UVA students gathered together and replied we replaced you it was awesome but there's a lot more work to do and a lot more dancing ahead with that in mind I leave you with some words from James Baldwin if you haven't been reading him already it's a great place to start thank you I want to thank president Paxson and provost Rick Locke for organizing this event and also Mercer Quinn for handling the logistics so quickly this could not have been easy so as some of you know I'm Michael Warren Berg and I'm a member of the history department here and I've had a number of roles at Brown but there are two that connect to some of the issues that we're talking about tonight first and probably foremost I'm a historian of the American Civil War and reconstruction I teach a course on that subject here it's often a very large course why is it a large course is kind of an interesting question it's a large course in most places it's taught the Civil War has a way of gripping people's imagination of reminding people that is one of William Faulkner's characters said a character fixated on the war that the past is not dead it's not even past on the surface at least and maybe only on the surface the events at Charlottesville were connected to the Civil War specifically to a statue of Robert Ely the most revered of the Confederate generals in the south should the statue stay should it go should it somehow be put in a better historical context on that issue I would refer you to the recent easily available statement of the American Historical Association made about such statues and also about the Confederate flag a flag by the way which was never the flag of the Confederacy but rather came into popular use only as a banner of white supremacy in the hundred years after the Civil War as a counter reaction to the civil rights movement the American Historical Association in a statement reminds us that memorials to the Confederacy were intended in part I would say in large part to obscure the terrorism required to over reconstruction and to intimidate african-americans politically and isolate them from the mainstream of public life events in Charlottesville and elsewhere indicate that these symbols of white supremacy are still being invoked for the same purposes I'll add to that president Paxson asked a good question or a number of good questions about why are these statues had they come to be and what happened to them I would just point out that the movement to take such statues down to put them in a museum to put them in historical context is not something that came after the election of 2016 it has really gained acceleration in the last few years also renaming of things why that is I leave to other panelists and maybe to the discussion I think some of the reasons are rather obvious but others maybe are worth exploring as for robert e lee we mother he deserves a statue I don't think I want to waste your time too much on that do those who would say that he does deserve a statue that he was a great man and that he was by incident only a slave owner or who someone who simply merely tolerated slavery I could marshal much evidence against you I mentioned just one thing that when Lee's troops invaded Pennsylvania in 1863 in an invasion that would lead to the Battle of Gettysburg while in southern Pennsylvania his soldiers engaged in what they Jacob jokingly called a great slave hunt in which they went into the southern Pennsylvania countryside they seized free african-americans and they enslaved them they practiced that technically then as now is regarded as a violation of the laws of war a war crime but while I condemn Lee and for that matter the entire Confederate war effort I am also aware of the danger that in doing so I risk drawing once again on what the poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren called the treasury of virtue the southern born Warren writing at the centennial of the Civil War used the treasury of virtue as the term to describe northerners who merely because they were on the winning side claimed moral perfection now I am a child of New England born in Boston not too long Warren wrote his essay and thus I know a lot about claims to moral perfection but as a member of the brown community I should know better than to make such claims across the green from us at the west entrance to manning Chapel there's a plaque honoring 21 brown students and alumni who died for the Union in the Civil War those are just 21 there are others that we know about there is no mention there of the 18 brown students and alumni the 18 we know about that is who died fighting for the Confederacy as much as I wish to disavow the connection of those 18 or more to brown and thus to me I cannot and must not do so which brings me some of the second reason I might be your tonight as president Paxson mentioned it just happens I'm the only member here on this stage that was a member of the slavery and justice committee the steering committee that president van president Simmons created in 2003 and that issued its reports three years later all of that material can be found on Browns website in President Simmons charged to the committee she issued words that our committee turned to again and again at moments of impasse or when we somehow lost our way and I suggest that these words should guide Brown that they do guide us in the difficult discussions that must take place ahead and they remind us of the extraordinary opportunity and privilege of being at a place especially this place which invites rather than avoids such discussions president simmons charged us a wide range of complicated legal questions moral issues and historical controversies need to be examined rigorously and in detail these are problems about which informed men and women of goodwill may ultimately disagree however the goal will not be to achieve a consensus but to provide factual information and critical perspectives that will deepen our understanding I want to be clear that what president Simmons articulated was not called fact-finding or moral relativism it was moral commitment without easy sanctimony it was the moral certainty of Abraham Lincoln's 1862 message to Congress which demanded an end to slavery come bind with that messages humility humility the vanishing commodity and political leadership today we have a president after all who says that Lincoln was the only president more presidential than he humility that Lincoln showed by asking in that message can we do better and he answered that question with an extraordinary choice of a word can we do better yes but we must first diss and thrall ourselves thank you [Applause] [Applause] I also want to thank president Paxson for calling us together tonight and for in the last weeks being so vocal and so public about this University's commitment to stand against racism hatred bigotry and xenophobia which i think is a real testament to this community and what we stand for and also to thank my colleagues who I'm so glad to sit among tonight like Professor forum Berg I am interested in why and how the past appears in the present I'm a historian of slate of US slavery and and so I'm going to talk a little bit about memory but I'm also going to talk about violence through their call to unite the right the folks who marched at Charlottesville some weeks ago brought attention to the ideological convergences of historically distinct institutions the mid 19th century Confederate States of America the 19th century foundation of white the late 19th century foundation of white vigilante terrorism and Germany's 20th century Third Reich and the Holocaust their particular obsession with protecting monuments of Confederate generals and their use of symbolism that evokes the Confederacy actually speaks volumes as Professor Warren burg noted of the 20th century and its lifetime of white racism but I also think it makes sense to take these guys at their word when they mobilize the symbols and ideas of the Confederacy and the KKK they're remembering and I think that's important to distinguish from historicizing groups of people who enacted violence to preserve and later to try to reinstate slavery when people of this moment say that we need to make this country great again they are as feminist theorists Claire Hemings might say telling stories about the past in this story they tell some previous time both vague and specifically represented through through specific symbols tied to slavery's legacy this time that they invoke was a great time for white people and should inform a vision for the future the people of this this current movement invokes the historical members of the Confederacy and the early – Klux Klan were also themselves devotees of memory if the contemporary movement makes heroes out of the soldiers generals of the Confederacy and the founding members of white vigilante terrorist groups than the heroes for actual Confederates and actual founding members of the KKK were slaveholders those nineteenth-century white supremacists were very explicit they thought slavery was great they thought the antebellum period was a great time for white people and they wanted the chance to be slaveholders and many of them wanted that for the first time in other words multiple levels of memory were operating in Charlottesville and the vector of layered memories leads straight back to slavery yet when you follow the trail back to the vision of slaveholders themselves things start to fall apart because even as the institution of slavery was undeniably an expression of white supremacist ideology the ideology itself was rather fragile the violence that was so present was extremely real for the people who lived through it and I'm gonna talk about more about that in a minute but in terms of the idea that there was some great time for white people that America needs to return to again I think there's some room for clarification what I mean to say is this slavery was always as bad for enslaved people for free people of color and for indigenous Americans as they said it was and slavery was never as good for slaveholders or poor white people as they thought it was then or as they seemed to think it was now pro-slavery southerners particularly those writing in the last two decades before the Civil War cultivated and nurtured a fantasy about the world around them they convinced themselves that slavery was a positive good they told themselves in their Diaries and their accounting books that they themselves had grown bales and bales of cotton they told themselves in pro-slavery publications and in public forums that enslavement civilized these wretched Africans gave them language and God and virtue they told themselves in the law that enslaved people were and could be at once both persons and property human and alive enough to toil emotional enough to be afraid of punishment or to be able to have family bonds used against them well at the same time thing enough dead enough to be manipulated at will to have no feelings of consequence at all slaveholders told themselves that if they focused and they were careful and if they accounted for everything that happened on their plantations that the system would flourish and that the black people who lived among them would be happy and docile and obedient and that they would love them in that fantasy slaveholders were on top they were comfortable and they were safe it's important to know that they really experienced their logic as coherent and that they vehement Lee believed that their way of life would go on in perpetuity right up till the end but here's what enslaved people knew then and what historians know now those slaveholders were actually terrified and they should have been enslaved people knew themselves not to be property and found ways to nurture themselves and their kin teaching each other to read and to write and to worship and to have hope and slaves people broke tools they worked slowly they told jokes at the expense of the people who owned them and also just to make each other laugh and slave people took up the tools of their labor axes and pitchforks and revolted for freedom or they took to the woods or the swamps or the river to make their way to Ohio or Massachusetts or Nova Scotia enslaved women tied to plantations because they were often caring for children or elders took off into the woods or into the swamps too or hidden places inside the house refusing to work until they could negotiate for more food or to end sexual pursuit or persecution against them or to not be sold away from their children that is to say that slaveholders never perfected the art of owning other human beings they never perfected the system of white supremacy and all that time while slaveholders were anxiously trying to makes up white supremacy work enslaved people were studiously constantly vigilantly perfecting the art of survival here's where violence comes in violence was a fundamental condition of slavery the white supremacist fantasy was quite fragile and it needed the strong arm of physical violence to take it beyond their dreams and bring it into the material world slaveholders and depth and their deputies used it constantly to realize their vision but of course the requirement of violence betrayed the white supremacists for if their vision of slavery as a positive good had been true violence would not have been necessary the whip was not the main site of violence in slavery the main site of violence in slavery was the daily grind the daily torture what literary theorist Christina sharp calls the climate of fear the whip was an aberration but is a symbol of terror because it announced the enforcement of slaveholding fantasies what is important to remember is that although that terror was literally felt in the bodies of enslaved people who bore the weight of the lash it was also felt in a slaveholders core for to use the whip to need the whip was to betray the vision of white domination to admit that an enslaved person had indeed resisted violence erupts then when the lie at the heart of the fantasy is laid bare it is a reaction to that exposure and an attempt to make the fantasy once again this is to say that the march on Charlottesville relies on several layered level levels of memory a memory that is at its root actually a fantasy we might want to better understand how someone can have a memory of something that didn't exist and we might want to understand how we can all have such different versions of the past it is also to say that the eruption of violence at Charlottesville is not the sign of white supremacist strength but rather it is the sign of white supremacist panic that does not make it less dangerous but it might remind us that they are not winning [Applause] hello good evening everybody I thank you president Paxton for convening this stellar group of colleagues I'm proud to participate in the conversation also to the provost and Marissa Quinn for bringing us all together um actually just arrived from Texas yesterday I was working and worked with a group of professors we started a nonprofit that's called refusing to forget that is working to commemorate the hundred year anniversary of a period of anti-mexican violence on the texas-mexico border lands and it's we're working to coordinate Historical Marker unveilings and so I won't talk about that here but in the qat you know I think we should be asking not only what monuments we should take down or that we should correct or that we should engage with but also which monuments we want to install we are how many of you are thinking about daca in immigration okay me too we are living in a moment a monumental time where we as a nation or at a crossroads we can become the nation that continues to embrace white supremacists xenophobic immigration policies brutal policing policies and that witnesses the repeal of civil rights like voting rights transgender rights or we can become the nation that takes advantage of this opportunity and the moment that we create a moment that future historians will reflect on as the moment when Americans corrected our course of history and chose an alternative more just path the moments for opportunity to eliminate white supremacy or racism and discrimination are often come in the wake of moments of racial violence but they increasingly come at the at the behest and of the calls of civil rights activists that identify when white supremacy is is rising history teaches us that there are grave consequences for not correcting the white the rise of white supremacy namely that it will continue to spread and be entrenched in our laws policies and daily life and so today I want to think about the relationship between the rise in white nationalism and the promotion of anti-immigrant sentiment and the practice of restricting the category of who belongs in the United States and I want us to think about a moment in the early 20th century after World War one when you saw the reintroduction there were actually opportunities during World War one labor organizers were participating in successfully gaining labor rights civil rights activists were protesting and mobilizing especially the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People the n-double-a-cp was opening chapters across the country to protest the expansion of lynchings of African Americans in a state like Texas for example in 1919 there were 38 chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and they were actively working to get governors and the President of the United States to pass anti lynching legislation at the same time you had Mexican American civil rights activists that were police that were protesting the brutal policing of the us-mexico border it was a it was a period of a rise of of brutal mob violence but also police violence that targeted racial minorities but to match that there were civil rights gains in making these acts of violence public and so one example is that in 1919 Jose T Canalis was a state representative he was the only Mexican American elected official in Texas and he drew attention to the rampant practice of anti-mexican violence at the hands of the state police how many of you know who the Texas Rangers are okay so they're not just a baseball team but they're actually the state police of the of the state of Texas and they were they were formed in the 19th century to police not only Native bodies but black bodies and Mexican bodies and by the early 20th century they were charged by the governors of Texas by sheriff's by local politicians and by the media too police Mexicans with brutality Mexicans were being profiled by eugenicist sin the early 20th century as an inferior race they were being criminalized as inherently violent and they were being profiled as bandits so ethnic Mexicans in the early 20th century especially during the period between 1910 and 1920 were being hauled of their they were being profiled as threats to American security and they were being called the militarization of the border was being called for by governors and local residents and so you had a culture of impunity in which governor's local courts justified the murder of ethnic Mexicans whether they were American citizens or Mexican nationals now historians estimate that between 1910 and 1920 hundreds of ethnic Mexicans if not thousands were murdered in collaboration between the Texas Rangers local police officers US soldiers and Anglo vigilantes now in this investigation that Canalis was successful in bringing to the state Texas Rangers were found guilty of committing heinous crimes one included the board of an eID massacre which is one of the events that we have a historical marker unveiling coming to fruition next year Texas Rangers collaborate in executing massacring 15 men in the presence of their wives and children in 1918 in West Texas in a small town called quad vineet and there were no prosecutions of those Texas Rangers and so the investigation exposed not only the collaboration of Texas Rangers with vigilantes too to create a reign of terror but they exposed this investigation exposed how the state was complicit governors offered their pardoning power for the racial profiling that was happening in the acts of racial violence and and the investigating officers of these crimes also dismissed and justified the the murders themselves and so as a result the Texas Governor William P hobby supported the congressional decision not to prosecute any of the Texas Rangers instead they reduced horse from over a thousand Texas Rangers – just under seventy and instead of prosecuting the Texas Rangers if they had found guilty of committing lynchings and massacres and murders in the name of securing the border those Texas Rangers that were dismissed like the the one that organized the massacre in nineteen eighteen went on to become sheriffs prison guards and eventually they would create the Border Patrol they would be the architects of the the u.s. Border Patrol that was established in 1924 and so when you see the opportunities when you actually saw what the investigation did is that it created the opportunity for the governor William P hobby to intervene in the violent border policing that was ongoing but instead what he did was he embraced it and actually charged the Texas Rangers to also dismantle the efforts of the n-double-a-cp in Texas and so by the end of by 1920 the Texas Rangers had helped to intimidate the n-double a-c-p chapters in Texas and reduced the chapters from 38 to just seven and so as a result we saw the rise of white nationalism in Texas the KKK had a resurgence in the 1920s in 1923 excuse me 1922 Texans elected a card-carrying member of the KKK to the US Senate the Texas State Historical Commission made October 23rd of 1923 the KKK day of Texas history to be celebrated and commemorated and that not only created the celebration and endorsement of white nationalism as a patriotic as a excuse me as a performance of patriotism but it also created the systemic sanctioning of of border policing and the criminalization of immigrants now I'm thinking about you know those the parallels between the pardoning of racial profiling and the anti-immigrant sentiment in many ways we forget the connection between American between white nationalism and anti in sentiment because anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobic immigration policies are sanctioned by the state and so when we think about the repeal of daca we also need to think about the vulnerability the immigration policies have created for immigrants that are trying to come into the United States so when we think about immigration reform we also need to pay attention to the fact that the four counties were we having the historical marker unveilings also hosts detention centers right so the ongoing practice of violent border policing and the exclusion and policing of immigrants is something that we're grappling with 100 years later the last thing that I'll say too is that when we think about who belongs in the United States we also have to pay attention to the immigration policies have been passed since the 1990s since the the the installation of operation gate keeper and operation hold the line in the 1990s 7,000 people have died trying to cross into the United States right and this is a humanitarian crisis that we think about white nationalism and the participation of making vulnerable lives that are minority lives we have to consider not just the acts of violence through rhetoric or the policing of people that are in the United States but the ways in which the nation makes actually the border a place of violence in a place of death so you know for me Charlottesville helps us to disrupt popular assumptions that histories of violence are are can be reconciled just with time and that if we don't attend to them and intervene when when white nationalism is called out and when white supremacy rears itself and especially when the state endorses it we can we can bet that there will be a rise in the continued violence so I'm so glad to be here and to participate in the conversation and hope that we can talk more about white nationalism and immigration and how it's affecting our our campus today [Applause] so I'll add my voice to the chorus of thanking the folks who organized this I also want to take a moment to thank everybody in the room for coming out on this first day of classes when I know the buzz of starting this semester is keeping you really busy it's great to see so many people here I'm going to talk about two things in the minutes available to me the first I want to address the question of why demonstrators chanted anti-semitic lines like Jews will not replace us as part of this event and if I have time remaining at the end I want to talk a little bit about some of the lessons of the history of anti-semitism and how it's been enacted from prior periods of Woodham it can help us think about today so at a rally ostensibly about protecting a statue of Robert Ely asserting the legitimacy of white culture and white supremacy and defending the legacy of the Confederacy we had demonstrators as we've heard speaking the enchanting Jews will not replace us this was a demonstration suffused with anti black racism but also with anti-semitism marchers displayed swastikas on their banners and shouted slogans like blood and soil a phrase which is drawn directly from Nazi ideology and prior anti-semitic ideologies before that time so it's not actually common in the 21st century United States to see these two forms of racism so dramatically fused because structural racism in this country deeply affects the lives of black and brown people but most Jews do not in fact face this kind of limitation on their lives in the housing market in the educational world in the criminal justice system and in the Occupational landscape these are all places where structural racism has really fundamentally undermined the lives of people of color and while Jews were very much targeted by many of these forms of structural racism in this country in the early parts of the 20th century by the middle of the century they had reduced and in fact most of these forms that we associate now with racism in this country have diminished for Jews significantly and happily so at the same time then it is easy to forget that anti-semitism and anti black racism are often closely entangled and they're really two reasons for this that I want to underscore today the first is from drawing on the works of historian David Nuremberg who has traced what is sometimes referred to although he actually problematic the history of the longest what scholars have called the longest hatred that is a form of anti-jewish racism there dates back really to st. Paul and the birth of Christianity and then all the religions born from it and including Islam and then the secular philosophies of Europe that follow many of which learned to think about their world in terms of overcoming the dangers of Judaism and that's a direct quote from Nuremberg these are not this is not a timeless and linked form of hatred but it is it is a fact that over and over and over again in the history of our times one of the ways majority societies have come to understand and think about difference is by focusing on the Jews in their midst and this has reiterates in times of conflict over and over again and we see it in Charlottesville um but I think probably more importantly the point I wanted to focus on is the history of 19th century European nationalism when an ideology emerged that fused anti-semitism and racialized imperialism informs the distance the white dominant European classes from what they viewed to be their racial inferior –zz this is not to argue that anti-semitism and other forms of racism were identical no historian would ever make that kind of argument but while historians have traditionally argued that and traditionally I mean twenty years ago you would have found a lot of works emphasizing the uniqueness of distinct forms of racism in the nineteenth century and the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the uniqueness of slavery and you would have found a lot of scholarship emphasizing that in recent years scholars have really started to think much more about the ways in which anti-semitism colonialism llama phobia and colonial violence were actually all deeply rooted in a similar racial hierarchical formation that worked again to help European nationalists and the ideological frameworks of nation-state building in the 19th century to distance and hierarchical eyes the different peoples in that world so like when for Hitler and when Hitler came to power of course we have come to know that for him the world was seen in a racial hierarchy and white Nordic people top we're at the top of that racial hierarchy followed by slobs blacks and Arabs and even lower Jews who were believed to be the existential threat to the Aryan master race and we're therefore at the bottom these these beliefs of course became the government ideology and were spread through propaganda and turned out to be extremely dangerous basis for the reordering of German and European society the phrase blood and soil which came out in the events we are talking about today was an early Nazi slogan used in Germany to evoke the idea of a pure Aryan race and the territory it wanted to conquer the concept was foundational to Nazi ideology and its peel and blood referred to the goal of a racially pure Aryan people soil invoked a mystical vision of the special relationship between the Germanic people in their land and a tool to justify the land seizures in Eastern Europe and the forced expulsion of local populations all deemed to be racially inferior for in favor of ethnic Germans but this term was also a rallying cry in the 1920s and 30s before the Nazis had to take in control and while anti-semitism did not have the same kind of widespread violent support it did in Europe in the United States bigotries against Jews was a common form of a way in which white supremacist ideology expressed itself in the United States where Nazi groups here drew on tropes and themes and ideological models that were articulated by the sieze in the 1930s for such individuals in this country being anti-jewish and anti black were clearly and obviously linked and that's why for rioters in Charlottesville who looked to Nazi Ilia ideology as the connection between african-americans and Jews is clear for them because they have their roots in this form of hatred going back in time I don't have much more time so I want to just make one very brief concluding point which is much of the scholarship on anti-semitism in Europe in the 1920s and 30s has focused on the concept and here I'm drawing on one particular scholar a woman named Marion Kaplan who's written about this period has focused on the concept of social death and that what preceded violent genocidal death in Europe was first the social death when neighbor turned on neighbor boycotted the stores of their neighbors turned away when somebody they had known and been friendly with previously was harassed in the street and I think one of the lessons of the history of anti-semitism for us in our times is the call to us not to engage in this kind of turning away and I think sessions like this are a powerful reminder that we are all implicated in making sure that the society in which we live in is socially just one for all thank you [Applause] [Applause] good afternoon thanks for coming this evening which public monuments ought to be taken down President Trump wants to focus our attention on that question he does this by asking us to look down down onto a slope that he claims is slippery robert e lee today Stonewall Jackson tomorrow who's next George Washington I want to invite you to join me in considering I'm more powerful in a more positive question this question requires that we look up and then we look up together at this historical moment what new public monuments should be erected the purpose of a public monument is not merely to acknowledge our past instead the selection of a monument is essentially a forward-looking activity as my colleague Melvin Rogers remarked to me recently when we think about monuments we are deciding what events from our past should live on into our future by the monuments we choose to erect I suppose we reveal the kind of community that we are more importantly we state publicly the type of community that we aspire to become this is true of nations such as America it is also true of institutions and universities such as Brown so now I narrow my question and in narrowing it I direct it to you the generation of students and faculty and administrators now at Brown what new public monuments are Brown to erect at this moment Browns history is both wondrous and terrible what moments from Browns history should we allow to live into our future which moments from our history should we honor precisely because they expressed the kind of University that we hope Brown could become allow me to propose a few Inman page is widely hailed as one of the first black graduates from brown there are two portraits of page on campus that I know of and an important organization bears his name more significant I think is that in 1877 Paige's classmates most all of them white elected Paige to be their class orator they did not choose Inman page because he was black indeed according to some accounts they may have chosen Paige despite the fact that he was black why do they choose him they chose him because Inman page was manifestly the greatest most brilliant orator at Brown at that moment the brown community affirmed their commitment to a precious and common ideal of university life that idea that ideal is that we search out and we honor individual excellence wherever we find it I hope Brown will consider erecting a statue to Inman page in the act of oration this would be a monument not simply to Paige not simply to his classmates rather it would be a public statement a Browns commitment to excellence regardless of race that is an that is a new monument Inman page in the act of oration that I think we could all get behind there are other moments from Browns history that I think might be worth commemorating some of these are controversial Chris asked me to speak so I'm going to just tell you what I think in 1963 when Governor George Wallace visited campus to debate brown students there was an astonishing act of bravery by a black leader from our community time prevents me from saying from going into it we can discuss it later if you like in 2013 when a group of angry students began shouting down an invited speaker one brave student this one white turned and faced that angry crowd all by himself and he noted that in silencing the speaker they were silencing him to my personal favorite though is from convocation Day 2001 one of the my favorite days on this university it was Ruth Simmons first convocation address as president of Brown some might say that we should erect a monument to Ruth Simmons because she was Brown's first black president and the first in the Ivy League perhaps but I think the real reason that we should honor Simmons is because of values that she used her position as president to defend that day quote while other types of communities devise covenants so as to avoid conflict our covenant is rooted in quarrel in opposition we encourage ideas and opinions to collide in the service of learning we CH freely trespass boundaries we criticize each other's views test every Theory no idea is beyond range or out of bounds close quote this is a difficult and lofty vision of university life a public monument perhaps a plot a plaque barring those words the words of Ruth Simmons spoke that day might help her vision live on into the future of brown thank you [Applause] [Applause] all right good evening how's everybody doing you're holding up it's been a tour de force up here of many disciplines and incredible insights so let me see if I can speak in fewer than seven minutes I actually have my own version of the clock just in case I know everyone is thank to you president Paxson but I really want to thank you as well because this is an important conversation to have particularly at the start of the year and I'm delighted to be a part of it and participate we we really need to learn as much as we can about the deep and complex roots of white supremacy and how we got here how we got to Charlottesville and this is really the only way we can truly decide where where we will go from here so this is an important beginning and I've learned a whole lot from my colleagues today so thank you all for that I want to move us to the relatively present moment and ask us some kind of hard questions about the reality of the world in which we live I want to make an opening statement which is the the basis of the rest of my comments which is that white supremacy is not a marginal or left over fringe ideology in the United States nor is it limited to the extremist displays and acts such as what we saw in Charlottesville I'm going to say that one more time white supremacy is not a marginal leftover fringe ideology in the United States nor is it limited to the extremist displays and acts such that we saw in Charlottesville why am I saying this I'm saying this because it's absolutely crucial that those of us who believe in racial justice who understand ourselves is wanting to create adjust and multiracial democracy that we deal with the reality of the range of the performances of white supremacy in the institutionalization of it not its only it only its extreme marginal expressions and this is actually critically important so I'm gonna spend most of my time on this I will say I also know it's can't feel terribly comfortable it doesn't like it's hard to say I had to say it twice so I'd make sure I didn't skim over it but it's very important that we confront that if we don't tremendous peril who is in front of us white supremacy is a core ideology of the founding and governance of the United States and this has not been fully erased it's not actually abated as much as contemporary conversations suggest it's evolved and reduced in some important ways but it's also reinforced itself in some ways in the last 30 to 40 years that were not the case before most importantly the centrality of white supremacy as a way of understanding the world and normalizing significant not just disparities but institutional impediments that the centrality of the obscuring of white supremacy is the heart of the problem we're in right now one of the ways in which this practice of supremacy has been obscured is by narrowing the range of what constitutes racism so over the last 30 or 40 years there's been a never contracting space that one could call racist so it's basically you have to be in the Charlottesville rally at night in this year to be a racist or to believe in racist ideology or to support structures that produce racist outcomes whatever the circumstances may be and that has left the rest of us presumably we don't have a tiki torch contingent in here I'm just going to assume that at Brown for the moment but that may not be a safe assumption but let's assume that it's true that the rest of us are therefore not racist so the system of the world in which we live is therefore not producing racist outcomes and these are these fringe groups that if only we could somehow control and get rid of the rest of the world would operate properly in that moment we make the gravest mistake I would our and I would really encourage you to both challenge that kind of extremist white supremacy but look more deeply in the come in in the world in which we live today so that when we say this is not us and we look with shock and horror there is a moment in which I want to encourage you to say well actually it is part of who we are and the vestiges of that are everywhere and the practices of it are all around us in fact most white supremacy is very civil it's very polite it's not in any way as extreme and filled with hate speech as we as we witnessed some historians have argued that the extremists wings of white supremacist thinking is actually the perfect cover for the more institutional ways that inequalities are generated and produced and hierarchies are constructed so what do I mean by this I'm just going to be a little bit more specific when we think of white supremacy we focus very specifically on the language of white superiority right and that's what makes neo-nazis in the KKK and other with supremacist hate groups very visible because they focus on the idea of white supremacy and superiority but if you look at the ideologies about race that dominate our culture and our political landscape long before Trump so that's not you know a helpful marker for this conversation we find that it's about non-white inferiority that we learn about white supremacy we learned that whites are superior by having constant conversation about the inferiority of black people the inferiority of Mexican Americans and immigrants of color the inferiority of people of color generally that's how we learn we learn about their net they're sort of penchant for crime their lack of cultural interest in education we learn about their inability to save money we learn about etc etc etc all you know highly normalized often very scholarly and you know a polite conversation that tell us who is superior in in this in these conversations it's never that we start with superiority but we establish the inferiority of everybody else this goes on institutionally in mass incarceration and I've been working on structural racism I won't repeat this great deal tale here because I don't have much time but when we have a significant level of systemic and structural impediment assed and present past unwritten remediated and present reproduced when we have that kind of condition and then we continue to discuss the outcomes as if it's a meritocracy that's white supremacy this is what we have to confront you simply cannot make an argument that you have the level of structural impediments that are widely understood to be significant and real and at the same time make the case that it's a meritocracy that practice obscures structural constraint makes us look only at hate as a form of racism and reproduces a hierarchy around race that then gets understood as cultural and personal and specific they work harder they did a good job they functioned as individuals and this is basically group superiority that is institutionalized so we're involved in a collective practice that I want us to really attempt to stop and this is true for all of us for in one degree or another Patricia Williams the critical legal studies scholar has this phrase I adore called the transgressive refusal to know and I love this phrase because it's not just that we don't know it's that we we do know but we kind of don't want to know and so we actively you know in a very kind of edgy you know challenging or compassionate way refused to know and she talks about this at the kind of perpetual shock that people of color look around and think like why is this shocking and as in professor Hahn eggs display when the woman said you know this is what are you talking about we have this all the time so if what world has been created right that you think this is exceptional what are we living in the same universe and so this I want to involve you in the practice of RIF using this transgressive refusal to know and to turn this latin let this be like the last moment of shock and surprise this circling back to how can this be who we are and it seems to me that we need to focus here on a campus in challenging our own curriculum to do a better job teaching us about race because I think it's a crime that we have such a crisis in this regard and higher education as a whole ultimately marginalizes this kind of conversation and and that's part of the crisis itself human exercises of unjust power and hate require our best and most determined selves it requires that we refuse and that we refuse the exercise of unjust power and hate in our responses and I want just very quickly to just partially close on how much anger and frustration and and hate hate produces it looks like the only way to win is to be more exclusionary to be more angry and hateful than what comes to us but I would like us to think of a kind of prefigurative politics that is to say that we behave according to the rules of the society we hope to create not the one that we may be denying this means being active and just and courageous and agents for change I am in fact though angry and I'm sad about this and I want to say that because you know we're all scholars we have a lot of big ideas and our brains are sort of crowded but our hearts are are my heart is is is unhappy it's sad it's it's in pain but I am determined not to let despair and anger rule me the level of hate being supported by the halls of power in our society is at a very toxic level but we cannot let it determine who we are or who we want to be I believe despite what I see right now the power of the human spirit and I always will and I do believe deeply in the power of ideas to change the world for good thank you very much I want to thank all of you those who are just just amazing amazing remarks there are some people I know who have to leave and go off and do other things so thanks for coming we have about 20 a little bit more than 20 minutes for Q&A and I thought we would just go straight into it so we have speakers on both sides and it's a teaching which means you're here to ask questions and talk and get some discussion going up here so please come forward and we'll start on this side Thanks can you say who you are hi everyone thank you so much my name is Aaron Mayer I am worried this is gonna fall in another talk I'm a senior I'm studying philosophy specifically moral philosophy and political theory and I have a few questions but I'll just start with this one I believe in moral truths very much I believe that white supremacy is wrong and neo Nazism is is wrong in the same way that 2+2 is 4 is it was right I think that's very very clear to me and I also believe very much in free speech and the democratic ideals that this nation upholds for instance I may not agree with what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it I believe very strongly in the moral value of those ideals however I'm also the grandson of Holocaust survivors my great-grand my great aunts and uncles were all murdered in Auschwitz so when I shut her at the rise of neo-nazism and the resurgence of white supremacy but I also shudder perhaps more so at the potential erosion of censorship and anti free speech practices that perhaps could be a natural and perhaps righteous response so my question is what are the means that we can take legal or extra legal that demonstrate and repudiate our that demonstrate our hatred for the hate groups and repudiate their values while also upholding our ideals for free speech and the robustness that allows this country to thrive thank you thank you so who wants to take that it's a good question do these all work okay do you might know you're still standing that would be good so maybe you could talk about if you would where you see free speech under assault right now because that's implicit and actually somewhat explicit and what you said and I'm hearing this a lot I often hear it a lot when usually there's other issues actually going on where do you see free speech erosions and are we really in a crisis of free speech and I asked that question I must confess in a loaded way of skeptics kepta sysm it reminds me a little bit of proposals to amend the Constitution to prohibit the burning of the American flag when there's no one burning American flags that's a excellent rebuttal well I mean it would mostly actually I would say it's it's evident at least in my experience from conversations with fellow brown students and other friends be saying one night when they say oh how can we allow this to happen why don't we just prevent them from assembling in the first place or or or how can we why don't we enforce more rigorous hate speech laws that what that would prevent this type of visceral verbal abuse so perhaps it's not being proposed or entertained in any serious legislative way but certainly that's what I mean I would love to outlaw neo Nazism right now and I think many of us would perhaps feel that righteously the question is how can we hate how can we express that extra legally such that we don't erode those free speech laws can I so free speech is an epic phenomenon what matters is how we think and focusing on speech I agree with Mike to some degree I think might be a mistake it's obviously crucial to maintain norms of free speech especially the ones of this university which are not often spoken by maybe should be spoken and affirmed but much more important to me I think perhaps to you as well I understand you is the question of what's the state of our thinking how're your people thinking what opportunities are we giving students at Brown for example to think new thoughts how often are they challenged that to see things in different ways from one another how often do they encounter people in their classrooms and in their dorms and in their friendships who see the world and radically different ways than they do or how often do they find themselves living thinking talking and breathing I want people who share the same general outlook so I think that's really the that's the top issue at a university especially it's the thinking and the quality of the thinking that we should be most concerned about does anybody else want to respond to that third we can move to the next question no okay thank you thanks to both of you right here hello my name is Denise atlo I am a junior studying religious studies and my question is directed at dr. Mandela in particular but as always everyone is welcome to answer it in a recent statement put out by the Jewish community several rabbinical organizations condemned the racism in Charlottesville and the anti-semitism except for two to rabbinical organizations who happen to be in the Orthodox community and it interests me kind of this relationship between kind of Jewish Judaism and whiteness so my question is how do you see this developing in the future do you see in the Jewish community Jews trying to pass as white and have you used the channels of power in order to continue this or do you see many members of Jewish community trying to stand and fight for racial justice can't tell ya know we tried I have many choices okay thanks so first I'll do the disclaimer of the historian right hard to predict the future when you're when your source of evidence is decades in the past and context in fact in the future will shape the answer to that question so I'm gonna answer it by looking back rather than by looking forward perhaps as a way to shed light into your question whiteness is a social construction right race is a social construction is something we we all study and learn at Brown and Jews relationship to this thing you've called whiteness has shifted over time and one of the things I was trying to allude to in my comments when I spoke is there was a certainly a time in American history when talking about structural racism and Jews would have made more sense than it makes now when we talk about racism in the United States there's still anti-semitism and bigotry that was also a point I was making but some of the ways in which racism operates in this country now towards Jews is different than the way it operated in the past and not surprisingly there for Jews responses to it have changed so as the social construction of who they are shifts with changes over time and context and society the ways in which Jews respond and Jews are not in fact a community right their multiplicities of responses and ways in which people encounter structures and and attitudes but but they're but those responses have shifted over time as well so I think the easiest and probably the safest response to your question would be to say it could shift again right as as social constructions are never fixed in time and that could potentially shift again in the world in which we live right now it seems to me that the and this is to a different part I think of your question that the alliances and that maybe this is a more ideologically hopeful thing I'm going to say that that working together to fight the forces that seek to undermine anybody in this society to my in my opinion is the direction we should be headed and that would certainly be my hope for the future but but the historical constructions that have shaped the past may have a stronger play in that thank you over here so my name is Emily I am a sophomore concentrating in public health and my question is I think Charlotte's bill for a viola very clearly that there's a pretty deep fracture in this country and there's a decent number of white supremacists in this country and as a Jewish person and as an ally of the students of color on this campus and of a broader community it was incredibly hurtful to me but at the same time I don't know what the solution is because we can't shun these people from society so I suppose my question is what is the way forward where we accept these people as fellow citizens but wholly reject their ideology and I'm sorry I know many of you are historians and you aren't big on future predictions you know Emily or Martina I think my first thought about that is that it's a it's like a little bit of curiosity around what shunning these folks from society might look like I am NOT a fan of shunning in any regard but I do think that we are encountering a moment in which white supremacist ideology and the people who espouse it are entering as Professor Hoenig was talking about the public sphere in a different kind of way than say 20 years ago it's not to say that the white supremacy wasn't there then or that it wasn't manifested as President Rose was talking about in all kinds of systems other than in verbal articulations of hatred but I do think that there's something it was very striking to me to be in the middle of my summer and to turn on the television and to see people with swastikas and KKK insignia marching into a town that I know that I have visited many times that I have friends who live and work in those marches were by the way happening to in places that didn't quite make the evening news in Providence but I do think that where we are in a moment of a different kind of normalcy and I think that there is an opportunity not to shun but to say this does not belong in our public sphere this kind of vitriol does not belong in our sparks fear the people who espouse it or if if and when they are willing to work toward equality and diversity and inclusion and the sort of ideals that we as a as as this University culture but I think also as the deeply troubled and problematic history of our nation sort of is down for if they're willing to get into that then great that's that's great that's what we all ultimately want but I don't think that we need to conflate that with an embrace of hateful speech in public spaces yes you know something that's really striking as a historian of racial violence you know often when I'm writing or giving talks I talk about the the phenomenon of forgetting of the public forgetting of the atrocities of genocide of racial violence of lynchings and the consequences that that has on the future the world that we live in today and what we're actually seeing now is that there's a very public nostalgia for a return to periods of extreme violence that we have to figure out how to grapple with and in many cases it's because we haven't as a nation reckoned with histories of slavery history of colonization histories of native genocide in a constructive way so that people can think about the lessons of the past and not recreate them and you know the curiosity that I have about these groups and what it means to shun them also is that we have to realize that there are already members of the community right and they could be police officers as they could be loan officers or they could be school principals you know I grew up in South Texas where Confederate flags and racial slurs were the norm and people who espoused these racial slurs were in positions of power and so when we think about these these you know members of fringe elements of society that converge in a public space we also have to ask really important questions about what kind of work they do in their daily lives to affect people living in their communities and that kind of question of how we have dialogues with people to actually make social change to actually have a more just world makes you know really recalls professor Roe's points that we can't think about people with hate or the dear espousing hate as fringe elements of society but they are part of our society and and now with a sort of public resurgence of calls for a nostalgic past we have to really question you know how we can push forward the conversation and and not look back in a way that's that's destructive to communities or that incites terror again as we relived and read abate you know things like the Civil War and so you know the question the curiosity I think is is important but we have to make sure that we're thinking critically about starting the conversations that we want to have that actually make them the more just world thanks anybody else want to react to that no right over here Thanks hi can you hear me yes right my name is Jessica and we've been at this panel talking about a lot of these issues at a system level and I mean this might sound cliche but I realized that what often shapes these events is a buildup of daily experiences frustration angst conversations friendships like change begins on a person-to-person level and the reason that these things are manifesting I guess at the system level is because things are awry when it comes to those person-to-person daily interactions and so my question is I'm interested of course in moving forward but practically how is one to navigate the desire to write these racial wrongs frustration with others transgressive refusal to know with the belief that growth is possible even even with individuals who might frustrate very deeply in a non self-righteous way you know in a non condemning way yes oh yes the big one thank you um so I guess I want to start where you began just a little bit with the idea that you know that individual dynamics sort of happen and then they create structures you sort of started with the individual and I guess I'm I might want to suggest that it's a reciprocal project that there is already a structure in which people have exchanges and that pre produces certain structures and as well as exchanges so there might be you know more dynamic interaction there which i think is important for your other point about you know how we would go about dealing with it I think it's very we have a tendency in this society to think very individualistically and it's not to say that individuals don't do amazing things as individuals but that our drive to hyper focus on individuals obscures how those structures are actually playing out in every exchange right in in ways that are bigger than who we are so I guess my first piece of advice would be you know to think about how to be to retain the the spaces of open-heartedness right which which are not places where you get caught up in difficult conversations all the time or you have to have sort of your own internal components because it's pretty exhausting to manage this from near or far but the second thing I think is – I mean we're here at a one of the premier universities in the world and I think we need to use more of our intellectual capital really unpacking as I said not just the category of race but structures of racial hierarchy as they play out in the world in which we live in our curriculum we have that opportunity I would say we haven't actually done our best with that honestly not here and not anywhere else that I know of personally doesn't say it doesn't happen not saying they're not incredible minds working on it but I would say that most of the of the trajectory of higher education has been in two disciplines and methods that usually marginalize precisely this conversation and it leaves that work on a small number of people and I think that is really where we learn how and you know we can have these debates about a different points of view but the topic itself needs to be at the heart of it and it seems to me that fundamental literacy which I think stems what Professor Martinez was talking about around the Nostalgia right because our educational system has been just atrocious on this question look at any public school textbook on the history of African American history just slavery alone which should take up more than the five to six pages it usually takes up and you'll stand the narrative the political narrative that we're we're actually educating the populace on these issues about is producing the kind of righteous resentment and a misunderstanding of racial history that takes a very long time to overcome if at all so it's stoking the fuel of racial resentment through not just the illiteracy but you know again back to be the the Queen over here of white supremacy but you know that there's a kind of drive to reproduce itself through that means so I think we we have those kinds of tools at our disposal in an institution of higher education that in an open heart and I think I think you'll be okay thank you thanks a lot over here thank you thanks my name is Patrick I'm a junior in philosophy and I wanted to kind of build on this line of questioning in particular by asking what some of the proposed ideal structural reforms would look like for upcoming generations I think something that we've learned from the experience of like in particular mass incarceration is that ideas of what structural reform and institutional reform should look like are often ultimately deleterious or don't achieve their intended impact in various ways for example right notions like colorblindness that were originally advanced to promote racial justice have actually become in many ways ways in which things like mass incarceration are reinforced as Michelle Alexandr documents right and so i guess i want to ask how upcoming structural reforms the kind of form that those reforms would take in particular there's like I guess this kind of tension right between on the one hand we want to make it clear that we set an explicit public norm about inclusion and diversity in our public sphere and at the same time though we do want to I think reach out to people who have white nationalist leanings and try to have dialogues with them and understand write and make and I guess communicate so that they'll understand right kinds of the historical issues and normative issues that are motivating this position so at the same time as we want to set an explicit public norm against their position we also want to open lines a dialogue I suppose or maybe maybe we don't but that's also something worth discussing and so I wonder what kinds of like institutional reforms we can take that would make outcomes ultimately aligned with I guess both of those priorities because in particular a lot of the institutional reforms we currently propose are kind of formal in nature right so how can we move from formal prescriptions and institutions to more substantive kinds of reforms that's a really big question and we have one minute to answer it but no I'm just would somebody like to just take a crack at that okay this is not an answer to actual structural reform this is a answer looking back to the past but I think that one thing that we didn't talk that much about today but that is really present in the conversation about who these groups are right these groups who we keep invoking with who the men are who are marching in Charlottesville it's about class and I think that when we think about white supremacy in the history of white supremacy in America we would be remiss to not also think about the ways that moments of the resurgence of white supremacy are often moments of class conflict in which it becomes very obvious that people of color and poor white people should stick together and what has happened in various historical moments and I'm thinking of one an 18th century in particular but there are many is that white supremacy as an ideology that is propagated by people at the top wealthy white folks right slaveholders in the 18th 19th century in particular comes in to inject and to inject into the situation and change the narrative so that it seems beneficial to people who have access to whiteness but not any capital that whiteness is gonna be the thing that allows them some social power even though everything else remains a mess and so I do think that in terms of thinking structurally about the future I'm not someone who thinks about the future that's not my job that's not what I'm trained to do but I do think that looking to the Past as dean Mandel was saying as a as a lens on what could come might be helpful and I do think that this sort of relationship between class warfare and racial warfare is is very very tight and tells us a lot about maybe not what kinds of structural things need to happen in the future to to make changes but certainly about the kind of ideological work that's happening to support white supremacist visions that allow these kinds of systems to continue I think the idea of disagreeing and having the moral high ground but also reaching out is a really great idea but I think we have to be realistic that reaching out to let's say the marchers at Charlottesville isn't going to do much good that is I don't the idea of persuasion is a great idea Francis Weiland one of the former presidents of Brown believed that anyone could be persuaded he spent many years trying to persuade one of his friends who was a pro-slavery advocate and it failed and so one answer that's really quite boring but incredibly important has to do with voting reform and what I think is the most important issue that actually deals with all of this I mean we can call it voter suppression but in which it is but it's other things too the most important case facing the Supreme Court right now is redistricting for the sake of partisanship only and of course embedded in that is the Voting Rights Act of 1965 you probably can't reach out to these people but you can't out vote them but not now not as things stand and this is the issue of the day you know in the Warren Court Earl Warren said the most important issue of his day was Baker V car and the other issues around districting and one one-person one-vote here we are again many years later and the Supreme Court is on the edge of doing this I'm not sure what the answer is but somewhere in there is an answer that's based on my idea which sounds hostile but after all voting is a process and it's a democratic process and we're not doing it well in this country to put it lightly and embedded in it is white supremacy obviously but other terrific in justices of norms thank you thank you so what I'd like to do we have to very patient people why don't you both say your questions and then we can do one final run-through and get some answers so please my name is Hans I am a perspective IR and economics major so my question pertains to the asian-american community obviously there is a very diverse amount of ideas within this community ranging from the most vocal progressive to those who view themselves as honorary members of the white nationalist movement however there's also a very very large segment of this community I feel that is more or less apathetic to the current happenings within the United States regarding racial issues and I was just wondering how if they should the asian-american community can become more involved in this national discussion and take action thank you and over here I so I I was interested in what President Monson was saying about like creating new monuments and it sort of reminded me of the sort of title of this series reaffirming University values and as we're talking about you know it's not just fringe groups but it's friends and it's our neighbors and so I was wondering about like because it's really easy to to look outward and criticize others but you know it's a lot harder to criticize oneself and I was wondering if you know as I found out like I think it's the fact that we're having this panel is a testament to what brown can do but I think it would be really valuable if you know we could look internally as well and think about like ways that were built off of slavery yes the the fact that at some point you know this land you know had indigenous ownership and and and ways in which that's changed and like on the day of my convocation which was a few days or I guess yesterday there was a protest and you know it was acknowledged but it would be really great if that could be acknowledged here you know Brown said that they've been working with the tribe to come up with a resolution but like look at the institution that this is like we have a huge amount of privilege a huge amount of power and that's something that you know lots of marginalized communities especially people whose land has been taken away from them have not been afforded and so I was just wondering like what are ways that like as we move forward we can think about our own community and how we move forward with negotiations or you know anything related that but like acknowledging the position of power that we do have as an institution thank you so two final questions and happy to hear your responses so I'm just gonna say I think there's an a sort of a similarity to your question about asian-americans and the question that I was asked earlier about Jews which is there's an assumption assumption I wish and hope is true which is that people who have in the past at some point suffered their own oppressions or indignities by definition should step up and support other people even if they themselves are not currently in that and that actually the Asian population is I'm so diverse that even what I just said is not factually accurate right because there's plenty of racism directed at asian-americans and other Asian groups as well but I still think there's a core here which is you know how do people step up and support each other which is what we're being at what both of you in some ways we're asking and you know there's I mean that there's sort of a very very obvious answer at some level which is kind of goes back to I think something that Professor Rose has really challenged the whole room to keep thinking about which is the ways in which our everyday experiences each one of us participate not not the rioters in Charlottesville but every one of us every day and it really speaks to the other question to participate in structures and settings and engagements with other people where we are shaped by the structures where we're in so where we actually perpetuate some of the very structures so Asian Americans experienced this Jewish Americans experienced this affluent students at Brown University experienced this even if they come from diverse backgrounds we all participate in engaging the structures in which we're in and in some cases sustaining problematic structures right so I mean I'm gonna say something very Dean of ecology right now but but wearing that hat I would say you have this tremendous opportunity in front of you to learn and to think about how your own choices as individuals help sustain and perpetuate these these structures and my own very kind of simplistic ideological view is we have to start with ourselves actually and work to make sure we do no harm and then work to work with the people around us to make the world a better place and it's a kind of a super idealistic simplistic way to end that comment but ultimately I don't think one of us is gonna go out and change how Asian Americans respond right or how Jewish Americans respond but we can we can we can do what we can in this world to make that change happen are you what why don't I just say a few words I think the question about how Brown is dealing with the the issue with the Pokanoket right now is really important and I mentioned it in convocation a bit but I can say a little bit more for those of you who are new I think it was one year ago we started the native and indigenous studies initiative and you know we've really been working with faculty who are experts in this area native faculty to develop our ability to teach and study and do research on issues that are important in native and indigenous studies and at the same time create better and stronger links to the Native community in Rhode Island in New England and you know we've made we've made some good progress we still have a lot more to do but we have made some good progress what we're doing right now is is working and it's kind of quiet it's a little behind the scenes but we really are trying to work very sincerely to develop a response that works for the encamped group that's there in Bristol but also that works for the other groups who for whom this land is spiritually significant and that's complicated it's it's nuanced it's tricky it's not a simple good and bad story and I think it's one that we can work through it's hard but at the end of the day we really want to do the right thing here and we will so I am glad we're did the woman go who is yeah thank you for it for asking the question I really appreciate that that's good so we are at the end now I I'm not going to begin to sum up and we're ten minutes over where we should have been but I want to say a few things one is I love this idea about transgressive refusals to know right and this is what we need to reject here we're at a university we're here to learn we're not here to refuse to know and the fact that all of you came out on the first day of classes to start to dig into this very complicated set of issues it's really important so I want to thank all of you for doing that I think we're starting to have the discussions about what kind country do we want to have here and and you can extend this discussion to countries around the globe right racism doesn't end at the borders of America but we're also starting to have a discussion about what kind of campus do we want to do we want to be and what kind of community we want to be and I look forward to participating with all of you in that conversation I want to thank Marissa Quinn for organizing this for provost Rick Locke for co-hosting and especially all of the panelists for speaking tonight thank you [Applause] [Applause]

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