Public discourse about the impacts of racism have gained momentum in recent years. Yet, race as a concept remains widely misunderstood. Racial discourse continues to be dominated by physiological signifiers such as skin color and other expressions of genetic heritage. Race is conflated with ethnicity, culture, and language. At the same time, the material and affective consequences of racism, usually negative, are borne by those at the bottom of racial hierarchies organized within and across societies. If we are to eliminate the malignant grip of racism on the human condition and create any real potential for racial justice, we must explore the mechanisms through which race is constructed and maintained within and across social institutions, including higher education itself.
The 2018 International Roundtable will spur our campus and surrounding communities to move beyond blood and skin, beyond diversity and representation, and beyond how it feels to be raced. The Roundtable will prompt us to pinpoint the historical sources of race and to understand how overlapping fields have maintained its mythology for the accumulation of material, political, and social capital for a segment of the population. The Roundtable will encourage us to ask different questions in the hope of taking a reparative path to destroy racial ideologies.