University News

Brown kicks off structural racism lecture series

Tricia Rose shares plans for presentations, multimedia projects that address racism in the U.S.

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tricia Rose captivated the audience at the first in a series of lectures that will explore how structural racism affects virtually all parts of society.

Tricia Rose MA’87 PhD’93, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and professor of Africana studies, delivered the opening presentation of a series of lectures and workshops titled “How Structural Racism Works” Wednesday evening.

The series comes out of Rose’s ongoing research project, which she has been working on “for a couple of years, amidst other responsibilities,” she told The Herald. “What inspired me to do it now is partly all of the political, social issues that are going on around the country and the difficulties that people are having understanding the larger things at play.” 

The project, which Rose hopes will produce a viral informational video, is “a visual, cultural and emotional project to build an anti-racist community,” she said in her lecture.

Rose said she also hopes to develop the material into a lecture course.

In the first installment of the series, Rose explained that the coming lectures will cover elements of structural racism, which she defined as the “normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics — historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal — that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color.”

Each lecture will focus on one of five key facets of structural racism: housing, education, mass media, wealth and jobs, and criminal justice.

Rose stressed that these five realms are not self-contained but interact with one another like cogs in a machine that is “designed to produce disparities,” she said.

“Every aspect of life has evidence of racial disparity,” Rose said.

Structural racism and its pervasiveness are obscured by the common cultural ideology of colorblindness, which “assumes racial hierarchies are not already operating,” “minimizes injustices” and “rejects policies that are designed to redress the legacy of structural discrimination,” she said.

There is a “saturating influence of the ideology of colorblindness” and an “invisibility of structural racism” that research alone cannot adequately address and disrupt, Rose said. She asked the audience, “How do we tell this story in a way that builds emotional momentum?”

The lectures and video aim to do just that, Rose said.

“She’s trying to make an emotional response … but there has to be a balance of the facts and the emotional,” said audience member Bryan Rego ’15.

“Racism is pervasive today and remains at the core of our darkest days,” said Provost Richard Locke P’17 in his opening remarks. The Office of the Provost is sponsoring the series in partnership with the CSREA.

Locke thanked and welcomed those in the packed auditorium who helped the University engage issues of racism this year.

“The presentations on the campus are a small part of a broader project,” Rose said.


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  1. Ron Ruggieri says:

    I can recommend a never quite silenced black voice as an expert on ” structural racism “. An old paper back book I am presently reading is titled ” Malcolm X Speaks ” , edited by George Breitman ( 1966) . One of Malcolm X’s speeches is titled ” The Harlem’ Hate Gang ‘Scare “. It is very relevant in explaining -not advocating- so called ” terrorist type tactics ” today connected with the chaos in the Middle East. But clearly Malcolm X connected structural racism with capitalism : ” It’s impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism “( page 69 ).
    Think about what Malcolm X says here and then see the wisdom of the Bernie Sanders campaign – even with a few beers in you subverting your capitalist conditioned ” common sense “. A socialist for president ?

  2. What a load of crap. There’s not an iota of personal responsibility in this garbled thinking, just more victimhood. Institutionalized victimhood. Structural victimhood. Victimhood that the poor white man just can’t seem to get his lily-white brain around.

    So we need to be lectured by self-absorbed academic entertainers to stand on the very institutions that only capitalists could have built. Capitalists built the largest charitable organizations in the world, cured the most diseases, educated the greatest numbers of people, grew the most food and took the most people in the world out of starvation. Paid the most taxes, built the most schools, enabled the greatest art. And for that we get this garbage from the podium at Brown?

    Affirmative action and tenure are a toxic combination, but their idiotic messages remain seductive to a generation of wanton, self-absorbed kids.

    Earth to Brown: you are killing your franchise as a great institution.

  3. 4OurMissBrooks says:

    “What inspired me to do it now is partly all of the political, social issues that are going on around the country and the difficulties that people are having understanding the larger things at play.”

    THIS is the work of a Brown faculty member? Can anyone suggest another Ivy for my children?

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