Prejudice and Discrimination: Panelists discuss America’s past, present society

Panelists discuss problems of racism in America from Jim Crow to the present day in our post truth world.

//Photo by Ryan McGill

Professors from the University met for a panel discussion on prejudice and discrimination Wednesday night.

Panelists included Victor Ray, Jioni Lewis and Michael Olson with moderator Dorian McCoy who discussed racial issues in a post truth society as well as taking general questions from audience members.

The discussion began by asking how racial relations have evolved in our post truth society. Olson began by stating that in a way, America has always been post truth in regards to race and discrimination.

“Facts, evidence, logic, reason, are sometimes not as persuasive as anecdotes,” Olson said.

He went on to praise the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, but then offered some criticism of public perception.

“Between 60 and 90 percent of white Americans still harbor prejudice against minorities,” he said.

He said that if the Civil Rights movement ‘solved’ racism, that number would be much lower. Instead, the movement largely changed what was acceptable to show in public; it is much harder to make someone believe something on a personal level.

Lewis spoke about the history of race after the Civil Rights Movement, dissecting the false idea that America lives in a “post-racial” society. One example is the backlash of the “Southern Strategy” employed by politicians in the 1970s and beyond, where politicians would speak in a sort of code to get their point across.

“It was no longer socially acceptable to be racist, but we’re going to institute these policies that we know are going to have a disproportionately negative effect on people of color, but not be as overt and explicit about it.”

The panelists also looked to the future with some hope for better relationships for America. Ray spoke of the social movements of the 1960s and the enormous impact they had for black Americans and then drew comparisons to modern movements such as Black Lives Matter.

“My hope lies in social movements,” Ray said. Ray hopes these movements will push people and politicians in the right direction like the civil rights movements of the 1960s.

Ray went on to say that policy is key to getting closer to racial equality. He said we may not be able to change the minds of the people, but we can give minorities legal force to fight against America’s continuing problem of racism.

 

Featured Image by Ryan McGill

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo