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Playlist: Black History Month

Compiled By: Philosophy Talk

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Affirmative Action: Too Little or Too Much?

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:59

Does affirmative action undermine the achievements of those who are supposed to benefit from it?


Addressing our nation’s history of racial injustice can be a truly backbreaking endeavor. Race-based affirmative action is usually thought of as one such effort, and colleges and universities often use it in their admissions process. However, affirmative action does seem to lower standards for certain under-represented minorities like Blacks and Hispanics. Should we think of affirmative action as patronizing those minorities, or rectifying the injustices they face? Is affirmative action enough to redress racial injustice, or is it simply the best we can do for the time being? John and Ken welcome Glenn Loury from Brown University, author of The Anatomy of Racial Inequality.

Black Solidarity

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:59

Is there still a place for political unity among African-Americans?


From the abolition of slavery to the Black Power movement, black unity has been considered a powerful method to achieve freedom and equality.  But does black solidarity still make sense in a supposedly post-racial era?  Or should we be moving past all racial identities and identity politics?  And how should we think about racial solidarity versus class or gender solidarity?  In celebration of Black History Month, John and Ken join forces with Tommie Shelby from Harvard University, author of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity.

Bi-racial Identities

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:59

Is a person with one black parent and one white parent black? White? Neither? Both?


Many people identify strongly with the ethnic or racial group to which they belong – as Jews, or African-Americans, or Latinos.  But to which groups does a person truly belong?  President Obama has a white mother from Kansas and an African father from Kenya.  Why is he seen as our first African-American President, rather than our forty-fourth white president?  How does racial identity work?  Is such identification a positive or a negative factor in a person's life?  Must we choose among our potential identities?  Ken and John discuss racial and bi-racial identity with Michele Elam from Stanford University, author of Mixed Race in the New Millennium.

W.E.B. DuBois

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:59

The life and thought of sociologist, historian, philosopher, editor, writer, and activist W.E.B. DuBois.


W.E.B. DuBois was one of the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century. The first African-American Ph.D. from Harvard University, DuBois died in Ghana after having renounced his American citizenship. In between he co-founded the NAACP and wrote The Souls of Black Folk (1903) as well as a number of other influential books that had a decisive impact on the development of African-American culture in the twentieth century. John and Ken discuss DuBois' life and thought with Lucius Outlaw from Vanderbilt University, auth or of On Race and Philosophy.


From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:59

Should any person or institution who has benefited from our sorry history of racism be required to compensate the victims of racism?


The United States brutally enslaved African Americans for its first hundred or so years of existence. For the next hundred years, black Americans were lynched, deprived of basic rights, and widely discriminated against. Now, while there are still certainly racial injustices to deal with, how are we to respond to the racial injustices of the past? Does time really heal all wounds? Could it ever be legitimate to compensate the descendants of slaves for burdens they themselves did not bear? Likewise, why should the descendants of slave-owners be made to pay for crimes they did not commit? John and Ken welcome Michael Dawson from the University of Chicago, author of Not in Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics.

Fractured Identities

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:59

How do you construct a coherent identity when you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere?


Despite tremendous strides made towards civil and political rights in the United States, discrimination and exclusion based on race, class, gender, and sexuality are still pervasive. As a result, individuals seen as "the other" often experience a painful inner fracturing W.E.B. Du Bois called "double consciousness." So, how does one shape a coherent identity in a world where one is considered "other"? What effects do micro aggressions have on the ability to develop a unified self? And what role might community play in helping heal fractured identities? The Philosophers identify with Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of Real American: A Memoir.

Frantz Fanon and the Violence of Colonialism

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:58

Should there be limits to violence in the service of liberation?


Frantz Fanon is a thinker who has inspired radical liberation movements in places ranging from Palestine to South Africa to the United States. Most famous for his work The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon is often understood as a proponent of revolutionary violence. But is this a fair characterization of Fanon, or is it an oversimplification of a deeper and richer body of work? What exactly is Fanon’s philosophy of violence, and how does it relate to his philosophy and psychology of the colonial subject? How has Fanon shaped how we think of identity politics? The Philosophers welcome Nigel Gibson from Emerson College, author of Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination.

James Baldwin and Social Justice

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:58

How can truth and love be harnessed to create a more just society?


Sometimes, we struggle to tell the truth -- especially when it's the truth about ourselves. Why did James Baldwin, a prominent Civil Rights-era intellectual and novelist, believe that telling the truth about ourselves is not only difficult but can also be dangerous? How can truth deeply unsettle our assumptions about ourselves and our relations to others? And why did Baldwin think that this abstract concept of truth could play a concrete role in social justice? The Philosophers seek their own truth with Christopher Freeburg from the University of Illinois, author of Black Aesthetics and the Interior Life.

2018-10-07 White Privilege and Racial Injustice

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:58

Is it a privilege or a right to be treated as you deserve to be?


“White privilege” has become a buzzword in discussions about racial inequality and racial justice. The call to “check your privilege” appeals to those privileged to acknowledge the various ways they receive special treatment that others don’t. But when white people explicitly acknowledge their privilege, does this do anything to further racial equality? Is talking about “white privilege” just a way to assuage white liberal guilt? Instead of unequal privilege, should we be more focused on equal rights? What kind of theory of justice is required to improve black lives? John and Ken check their privilege with Naomi Zack from the University of Oregon, author of White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Police Racial Profiling and Homicide.