The Future of Racial Justice…

By Malena Amusa Mar 22, 2007

A challenge, but hopeful. Photo by Brian Palmer The Future of Racial Justice, the first plenary of Facing Race conference, painted a wide picture of the problems of the color line in the 21st century, from housing discrimination, decolonizing identities and leveling racial hierarchies. In the process, panelists left tough questions about how to eradicate racism and inequality in America and around the globe. The panel included: -Moderator, Columbia Univ. Prof. Dorian Warren –Winona LaDuke of Honor the EarthJuan Gonzales, the New York Daily News and Democracy Now Angela Glover Blackwell, with PolicyLinkRinku Sen, with the Applied Research Center The panel first talked about what issues define our biggest race problems; challenges facing racial justice advancement; policy recommendations; the role of the media and youth in social movements; and their favorite TV shows. Moderator Dr. Warren asked the panelists personal and theoretical questions that yielded many anecdotes and big-picture scenarios. He also asked the panelists to imagine they were party consultants to Senators Obama and Clinton campaigns, and also Al Shapton’s campaign. Winona LaDuke covered the politics of her Minnesota Native American reserve that she said struggles with poverty, reclaiming identity, and maintaining the land. She tickled the audience with her humorous tales of living on a reserve where she finds inspiration from human and natural elements. Her key points were to act now, and also, reclaim our cultural uniqueness. Juan Gonzales shed light on predatory lending practices to the poor that in some cases land people with payments that are higher than their salaries; he also talked about global movements for justice; the perils of mass media and gentrification; and xenophobia among ethnic minorities. His key points were the reclamation of cities by people of color who are being pushed to the margins by discriminatory housing practices and also continuing decolonizing movements. Angela Glover Blackwell focused mostly on urban struggles for housing and access to good jobs. She also questioned the value of constantly trying to cross color lines to make multi-cultural friends over fighting to pass some hard policy measures that contain a racial dimension. Her key points were to change the language we use in policy construction to include the race factors and also optimism about working with young people. Rinku Sen argued the need for all people along America’s racial strata to find a role in the project of advancing racial justice; the need to use pop culture to re-prioritize racial justice; and other imperatives such as taxing the rich and reforming immigration to soothe people’s entrance and exit in this globalized culture and economy. Rinku’s key points were making sure that movements not just take on singular issues but to view the world always through the important racial lens. For more feedback: