Reflecting on Race
Scholars gathered in Charlottesville last week to explore the history of racism, current racial division and how to combat it after the events of Aug. 11-12, 2017, during a University of Virginia School of Law conference.
The event, “One Year After Charlottesville: Replacing the Resurgence of Racism With Reconciliation,” kicked off Thursday night at The Paramount Theater with Yale law professor James Forman Jr., the son of civil rights activists, who lectured on “Claiming Your Power: American Racism, the Alt-Right, and Radical Resistance.” Forman is the author of “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America,” which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.
He tallied a range of myths that whites deployed to defend slavery and its aftermath of segregation and racism, including the idea that black people were inherently savage.
“These explanations, these rationalizations — those become the myths and the lies that a racist society depends on, and the myths don’t die easily,” he said. “The laws may change, but the lies linger in our consciousness, in our societal DNA, and in all of us — in people of all colors, orientations and political persuasions.”
Afterward, Forman sat for a Q&A with UVA President Jim Ryan ’92 and audience members.
Friday’s conference events included panels on race and the body, policing communities, institutions’ ability to shape race and confront racism, and social mobility among communities of color.
A lecture by Dean Risa Goluboff opened the event, and Theodore M. Shaw, the fifth director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., and a University of North Carolina law professor, delivered the lunch keynote address.
The event was sponsored by the University of Virginia School of Law, the Carter G. Woodson Institute, the Center for the Study of Race and Law, and the Virginia Law Review. Papers from the conference will be published in the Virginia Law Review in a symposium issue.