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Playlist: Black History Month

Compiled By: Philosophy Talk

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2020-02-02 Race Matters

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

What's could be controversial about a movement insisting that Black lives matter too?


Started in the wake of George Zimmerman's 2013 acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has become a powerful campaign demanding redress for the mistreatment of African-Americans by law enforcement in the United States. But it has also inspired deep antipathy from those who claim it overemphasizes racial issues. So how much does – and should – race matter? Does #BlackLivesMatter speak for all black people? How should we respond to counter-movements like #AllLivesMatter? Ken and Debra discuss matters with Chris Lebron from Johns Hopkins University, author of The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea.

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.

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.

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.