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Race and Politics

THE RACE AND POLITICS SERIES is an initiative to promote community dialogue and critical conversations about the significance of race and racism in politics, both in history and today. Through a variety of events that confront such topics as civil rights, activism, family dynamics, civic engagement, and more, the Race and Politics Series strives to bring together diverse communities, inclusive of all race-related affinity groups on campus, to engage in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary discussion about important and sometimes controversial issues pertaining to the role of race in democratic politics. Given the powerful role race plays in so many democracies today, the Race and Politics Series aims to illuminate a core aspect of the contemporary experience of democratic citizenship.

Past Events

The Place of Race in the Democratic Primaries (Jamelle Bouie)

EVEN AS IT SEEKS TO ENTER THE 2020 ELECTION united around the goal of defeating President Trump, the Democratic Party is working through longstanding issues of policy, politics, and identity during the primaries. How has (or hasn't) race factored into these debates so far, and how might it affect the ultimate selection of a nominee? JAMELLE BOUIE, who has been a thoughtful commentator on the intersection of race and politics through several election cycles, leads what promises to be a far-ranging conversation on these and other issues surrounding the 2020 elections.

JAMELLE BOUIE, based in Charlottesville, Virginia and Washington D.C., is a columnist for the New York Times and political analyst for CBS News. He covers campaigns, elections, national affairs, and culture. Prior to the Times, he was chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. And before that, he was a staff writer at The Daily Beast and held fellowships at The American Prospect and The Nation magazine.


Revolution is the Solution: Art, Activism, and Organizing (Boots Riley)

THE PROVOCATIVE AND PROLIFIC POET, SONGWRITER, producer, screenwriter, director, community organizer, and public speaker BOOTS RILEY will talk about his film, Sorry to Bother You (2018), a comedy fantasy sci-fi film that raises issues of race, labor, and social movements. Fervently dedicated to social change, Riley was deeply involved with the Occupy Oakland movement. He was one of the leaders of the activist group The Young Comrades. He is the lead vocalist of The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club, and he is the author of the critically acclaimed Tell Homeland Security—We Are the Bomb.

In advance of the April 3 event, join us for a free screening on March 22 at 4:00pm at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, 118 S. 36 Street.

Organized by: Penn Social Justice/ Global South. Co-sponsors: Penn Cinema & Media Studies, Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, Annenberg School for Communication, Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, Wolf Humanities Center, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, Annenberg Media Activism Research Collective, History of Art Department, Dept. of English, Provost Campaign for Community, Drexel Women's and Gender Studies, Temple Film Media Arts. Sponsor: Evil Twin Booking Agency.


Asians, Blacks, and Affirmative Action (Claire Jean Kim)


IN THE WAKE OF THE HARVARD DISCRIMINATION TRIAL conducted in the Boston Federal District Court, BGAPSA invites the Penn community to join a conversation about race in higher education led by Claire Jean Kim (UC-Irvine). The discussion will explore the ways in which our current conceptions of discrimination and diversity have shaped, and arguably misshaped, debates over racial justice.

CLAIRE JEAN KIM is Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Her first book, Bitter Fruit: The Politics of Black-Korean Conflict in New York City (Yale University Press, 2000) is the recipient of the American Political Science Association's Ralph Bunche Award for the Best Book on Ethnic and Cultural Pluralism and a Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. Her second book, Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age (Cambridge University Press, 2015), is the also the recipient of a Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. Dr. Kim has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and essays, and she is co-editor of a special issue of American Quarterly entitled Species/Race/Sex (2013). She is the recipient of a grant from the University of California Center for New Racial Studies, and she has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and the University of California Humanities Research Institute. She is currently writing a book entitled Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World.

Fifty Years After MLK: Dinner and Dialogue

JOIN THE ANDREA MITCHELL CENTER for the Study of Democracy and BGAPSA to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4th, 1968. The evening will be a rich community event with a dynamic program.

The Politics of Hue (Ufuoma Abiola)

THIS EVENT WILL EXPLORE THE VARIOUS WAYS in which colorism affects African Americans and provide ways to address the phenomenon.  Colorism is defined as the allocation of privilege and disadvantage according to the lightness or darkness of one’s skin.  Join Dr. Ufuoma Abiola for a discussion on the Politics of Hue.

is Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Advising at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (Penn).  She is also a Lecturer at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) and the School of Arts & Sciences at Penn.  Dr. Abiola completed an Ed.D. in Higher Education at Penn, where she also earned an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education along with the Certificate in College and University Teaching; Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies; and the Graduate Certificate in Africana Studies.  She also received an M.A. in Clinical Psychology with the Graduate Certificate in Clinical Child and Family Studies from Roosevelt University; and earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in African and African Diaspora Studies from Boston College.  Dr. Abiola’s dissertation, which explores colorism and Black Ivy League undergraduates, won a 2018 Dissertation of the Year Award from the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE). With a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in higher education, Dr. Abiola is the Founder, Creator, and 2012-2017 President of We Support Diversity of Mind (WSDM) at Penn GSE.  Dr. Abiola is also Co-Creator of the Wharton Successful Transition & Empowerment Program (STEP) at Penn. She has published numerous scholarly works, presented at many national conferences, and received multiple awards.

Having Difficult Conversations with Family About Race, Racism and Politics

JOIN US FOR THE FIRST EVENT of the Andrea Mitchell Center's Race and Politics Series with BGAPSA, hosted by BGAPSA and Students Confronting Racism and White Privilege (SCRWP). “Having Difficult Conversations with Family About Race, Racism and Politics” is a dinner and discussion where attendees will break into groups based on racial affinity to discuss separately the barriers to addressing race-related issues with family and overcoming complicity. Then the groups with come together as a whole to address the unique dynamics surrounding issues of race and politics. The evening will conclude with a debrief on conversational dynamics in multi-racial spaces.

Our aim is to cultivate an environment of mutual respect and honesty at this event, where participants are willing to challenge the racism both within themselves and expressed by others. We will provide refreshments and facilitated discussion.