Question: “Did the election of Obama signal that we are entering post-racial society?”
The title of the program at both UCLA and NYU was “Navigating Complex Conversations in the Era of Obama: New Ways to Address Race and Inequality in Policy and Practice.”
The title recognized, first, the difficulty of having a constructive classroom conversation about race and identity. For those who speak up, the tone is often assertive and rhetorical, generating more heat than light.
In many situations, students and faculty retreat into a listening mode, “white silence,” as it has come to be known.
Race and diversity concerns, as our student leaders tell us, are spoken of too rarely and not effectively in the classroom; there is no “safe space” for dialogue.
Students and teachers are unsure of what to say, motives are misunderstood and mistrusted, and policy debates quickly break down along racial, partisan, and ideological lines.