%s1 / %s2

We're working on a new version of PRX. Want a sneak peek?

Playlist: Black History Month

Compiled By: Philosophy Talk

No text

White Privilege and Racial Injustice

From Philosophy Talk | 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.

Affirmative Action: Too Little or Too Much?

From Philosophy Talk | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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.

Identity Politics

From Philosophy Talk | 53:58

Is what unites us more important that what divides us?


The notion of identity has become so hugely important in contemporary political discourse that no conversation on social issues would be complete without it. Identity politics typically focuses on how to empower individuals from marginalized groups so that they can achieve greater equality and representation. But why should anyone mobilize behind a banner of identity rather than ideology? Why is it important have a diversity of identities in political representation? And does politicizing identities genuinely empower communities or just further divide them? John and Ken empower Tommie Shelby from Harvard University, author of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity.


From Philosophy Talk | 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.