First broadcast on public television more than 15 years ago, Race—The Power of an Illusion has become one of the most widely viewed documentaries in American history, and it remains timely and relevant today. The series asks a question so basic it is rarely raised: what is this thing called race? Many of our conventional assumptions, particularly about race being biologically-based, are wrong, yet the consequences of racism are very real.
This open forum shot on February 6 featured producers of the series and UC Berkeley faculty discussing the evolution and impact of our ideas about race, then and now.
Check out the new Race—The Power of an Illusion website here: http://www.racepowerofanillusion.org/
Speakers at the launch event include:
Larry Adelman, series producer for Race
john powell, UC Berkeley faculty and director, HIFIS
Michael Omi (moderator), UC Berkeley faculty
Jason Corburn, City/Regional Planning and Public Health
Darlene Francis, Public Health and Neuroscience
Lulu Matute, Haas Scholar
Victoria Robinson (moderator), director, American Cultures Center
The event was hosted by:
American Cultures Engaged Scholarship
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
UC Berkeley Library
Center for Race and Gender
Rush Transcript (excuse the errors)
john powell: My name is john powell and I'm the Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. We had a meeting earlier. We actually are considering a name change, I'll just say that. Maybe something about belonging, I don't know. But today we want to welcome you and thank you for coming. And a special thanks to Larry Adelman who produced a number of really important documentaries dealing with inequity, dealing with health.
john powell: But this one is called Race-The Power of an Illusion. Has anyone seen it? All right, it's one of the most viewed documentaries in the history of the country. And more importantly I think it's one of the most important, it's profound. So Larry is to be credited from California Newsreel for producing the document.
john powell: Larry approached us and we approached Victoria about having a joint project. To launch the project to have a website associated with teaching and with interactive lessons. And Victoria said yes, we said yes, Larry said yes. It's a lot of yeses in this room. And so we want to basically acknowledge that. And we'll have people coming to the stage in a minute.
john powell: But another person I want to acknowledge and thank, I guess, is Michael Omi. Where is Michael? So very quick story. I was on my way to University of Texas at Austin and I got two important calls. One from my daughter saying you can't go to Texas. I said why not? It's kind of nice down there. The weather is nice. And people kept saying to me, you know. Austin is a nice town. When you leave Austin, guess what? You're in Texas.
john powell: And you have a granddaughter here in the Bay Area. And I said I know and I love my granddaughter but I'm trying to launch this institute and that's in Texas. And then I got a call from Michael Omi and Micheal said we're launching this new institute and the name has already changed a couple of times. I won't take you through the names.
john powell: He said would you be interested in being the director of it? And I said well, maybe. Starting an institute is really a lot of work. And to do it right takes seven to ten years. I started a number of them and I'm trying to get out of the starting new institute business. So Michael said that and I said there's one condition I would consider it. He said what's that? I said if you would be my deputy. If you would actually do the hard work and I could just sit back and relax.
john powell: And Michael said yes and for those of you who don't know, Michael and I have been friends forever and we came. As I said, the rest is history. I just want to acknowledge special friends, a lot of special friends in the audience. I want to acknowledge you. Marianne Scott sitting in the back. We became friends because when I got here. Bertha gave me a little ... They actually gave me money. I thought it was a lot.john powell: They said give you this money to help you buy a house. I said eww wee, I come from Ohio. I'm gonna be living in a mansion. Then I got here and I ran into Marianne Scott who's a realtor. And she said what's your budget and I told her my budget. She started showing me garages. But eventually I did buy a house thanks to Marianne. And she's been showing me stuff ever since then.
john powell: And also I want to thank Rachelle who's our communications director who just came back from Greece. And some of you know we have a conference every two years called Othering and Belonging. And Marianne (he means Rachelle) is the architect of that conference. We had a meeting about it today. And it's really important. Not just as a conference but as a frame to think about all the work that the clusters do. So without further ado, I want to invite the panelist up to the stage. And if there's something else I'm supposed to do. Rachelle, tell me. Otherwise, we'll just go forward. Thank you, all right.
Michael Omi: I'm Micheal Omi from the Department of Ethnic Studies. And still an affiliated member of HIFIS, The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. It was over 15 years ago, April 21st 2003 to be exact. That I had the pleasure of moderating a KQED public forum with academics and community leaders discussing Race-The Power of an Illusion.
Michael Omi: Yesterday I actually found a list of the questions I asked folks during that session. And I asked the esteemed folks on the panel about the ideology of colorblindness. About competing meanings of diversity in different institutional settings. About the emerging debates about race and genomics, including biomedical research.
Michael Omi: And I asked folks to try to imagine policies that could really help us challenge the persistent racial inequalities in our society. And what's sobering 15 years later is that these are still unresolved and hot button issues and topics. The continued relevance certainly of this series is beyond dispute.
Michael Omi: I'm just gonna go over, before we get into our conversation. Talk to you about the format for this afternoon. The afternoon consists of actually two panels. This one is the OG, original gangsters panel. As if that wasn't readily evident. Here we're gonna look back at the development of the series as well as assessing it's continued relevance and impact for different audiences.
Michael Omi: And the second panel is the young bloods panel that focuses on emerging scholarship, current friends and community engagement and social activism. And we want to hear from you as well. But we're gonna take Q and A after both the panels. And we'll try to keep those panels within a manageable timeframe as well. And then it'll be followed by a reception and also perhaps some opportunities to look at the new website that will supplement Race-The Power of An Illusion.
Michael Omi: So my fellow OG's are Larry Adelman and john powell. john covered some of this but Larry Adelman really is the creator and the executive producer of the film series and it's been a long time. Co-director and head of publications also for California Newreel. Which is one of the oldest nonprofit documentary production and distribution centers in the country.
Michael Omi: He's done a lot. He's also been the creator and executive producer of the multiple award-winning documentary series Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? And The Raising of America which focuses on early childhood and the future of the nation.
Michael Omi: john powell, I'm glad I found that parking space, is Executive Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and the Robert D. Haas chancellors chair in equity and inclusion. Also finds time to teach and be a professor in law, African American studies and ethnic studies.
Michael Omi: john's most recent book is Racing To Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Others to Build on Inclusive Society, Build an Inclusive Society. If you haven't read the book, please do so. I've learned so much from john over the years and particularly his work on equity based interventions. Including concept such as targeted universalism. I also want to say that john has great taste in soul and R&B music as well, much to his credit. But before we get to our actual conversation, I think Larry has a few acknowledgments he wanted to make as well.
Larry Adelman: Thank you Michael. Yes, I would be remiss if I didn't point out among all the people. I won't say them all, who contributed so much to the production of our series in the first place. And as well, of course, to the relaunch of this new website. So I thought maybe I'd tell a brief story about that rather than just rattle off some names because it was clear a couple of years ago that this original site which was built in 2003. PBS.org/race would need to be updated. Time does change.
Larry Adelman: So what I did is I called. First thing I did was call Jean Cheng. Jean is the Program Manager here at the Academic Innovation Center at Berkeley. But what most of you don't know is that Jeam was also the Associate Producer of Race-The Power of an Illusion. And indeed, the producer of the original website at PBS.org/race.
Larry Adelman: And she has tremendous experience in digital exhibits working for the Exploratorium and elsewhere. And Jean says to me, well. Why don't you do it here at UC Berkeley? And I said what? Why don't you write a query to john? See what he'd say. And ask if HIFIS might be interested. Meanwhile however, Jean at the same was talking to Victoria Robinson Robinson. And also to Rachelle Tanasse (he means Gisele Tanasse), your wonderful Director of the Media Resources Center.
Larry Adelman: When those ... What film is everyone here is using by the way. And hence the conspiracy to bring it here was born. We then all met with Puanani Forbes. Puanani is here somewhere or was. I hope she's still here. There she is in the back. And is the Haas ... Do you call it HIFIS or Haas?
john powell: We call it both.
Larry Adelman: I can do no wrong, The Haas Chief of Staff. And after talking with john, they gave the go ahead and committed the resources backed by the ACCs Program. The American Cultures Program that Victoria Robinson runs, and the Media Resources Center. At that point Rachelle Galloway-Popotas.
john powell: We just don't say it.
Larry Adelman: Just back from Greece. She joined the team and we were off. But I think I want to just say that Jean it's clear, I think, all would agree, was absolutely indispensable to getting this new website launched and rebuilt. Worked on it from conceptualization to implementation. In fact, I was still getting ... She even helped plan this event. I was still getting emails from her this morning.
Larry Adelman: But Victoria Robinson's hard work and brilliance was also key to making it all real. I just want ... As Jean herself, would be first to testify. So I just wanted to make that clear. Jean, Victoria Robinson, Giselle and Rachelle work with Lucas Guilkey and Lulu Matute, Evan Bissell and Conrad Fulbrook to help conceptualize the precise design. And then Marc Abizeid also with HIFIS, is running this event at the moment, the logistics on it.
Larry Adelman: Joined the team and worked incredibly hard along with the web design team, Black Antelope, to bring the ship to shore. So, helped by Doug Parada and Gibran Huerta. I want to give everybody here a round of applause.
Larry Adelman: Because the result as you'll see is just a terrific news site. That not only has new video clips that are up, videos by faculty here talking about what clips they used and how they use it in class and to what end. It has backgrounders, quizzes and it's built in a way in which it will be expandable. So the other people can bring up ... So you can bring in new and updated material to make this site continue to be a living site now and in the future. I'm not done.
Larry Adelman: Now I'm here, I really need to do. I would be remiss, please bare with me. If I didn't just thank a few more people because rarely in the production of the series have I ever been involved in a work where so many contributed so much so generously. And that's what made it all possible. I and all of us should be deeply, deeply in their debt.
Larry Adelman: Our advisors of course, led by Troy Duster. Who, unfortunately, can't be here today. Troy was just wonderful and was the first of a group of world class scholars such as Richard [Guitin 00:14:12], Evelyn Hammonds, Audrey Smedley, Alan Goodman. And our moderator Michael Omi who steered us right. Gave us stories and resources, critiqued scripts and rough cuts. And on many occasions, more than once, kept our feet from entering our mouth.
Larry Adelman: And Michael's book, Racial Formation in the United States, along with Howie Winant, was one of our core texts. We use it, I refer to it often. And your revised third edition, Why Do We Revise, was published just a few years ago. So I urge people to check it out.
Larry Adelman: I don't know if I talked to you then or later. But at some point we talked and john's work was absolutely indispensable as participation in the series. As well as in our future projects as well. So, that was a great fortuitous meeting. And my colleagues at California Newsreel who provided the support to get this going. My co-director at the time, Cornelius Moore, is over here. Steve Guy who's in the audience. I want to thank you too.
Larry Adelman: And then I want to say just a little bit about the funders who decided to take a flyer on such a crazy idea. I mean it sounded good on paper but you can do this on film, for god's sake. First the Independent Television Service, the ITVS led by the OHME. Who was indispensable, not just with money but with council and also with the dealing with PBS. Enough said.
Larry Adelman: The Oakland based [Okinadi 00:15:50] Fund, brand new at the time. Came in with finishing funds and Quinn Delaney will be here, said she'll be here later. But most of all I want to thank our major funder, The Ford Foundation. I am so happy at their founding director of their Media Arts and Cultures Program. Someone you know from here at Berkeley. To know well here from her work here over the years. Professor Margaret Wilkinson, seriously.
Larry Adelman: Professor of the African diaspora studies as well as drama, theater and literature. Performance studies I guess is what we call it now. Because without your faith and trust when we walked in and discussed this film for the first time. And using your wonderful sharp elbows there at Ford Foundation. This film just wouldn't get done and not only that. She gave the encouragement to go all the way. Don't do a halfway job. Really if you're gonna do it. Just damn the torpedoes, whatever. Go all the way at first at least. Then pull back.
Larry Adelman: So I want to thank you because ... And I also want to say that you have a biography of Lorraine Hansberry that's coming out. Yes, yes. And she's also one of the ... In our episode for producers and then I'm done. Christine Huber-Summers, Lou Smith and Tracy Strain led our wonderful production teams. And Tracy's film on Lorraine Hansberry, which Dr. Wilkinson was an advisor and on camera talent. Is about to be rebroadcast on Friday. On American Masters on KQED. So check that out if you haven't.
Larry Adelman: Finally, those who breathe life into the series. Those who really gave it life and those who used it. Without people who ... The educators, the community leaders, the civic officials who integrated it into their own work. It was simply being a flickering image on the screen. That's where it happens, it happens. You're the folks who use this film who make it happen. Thank you.
Michael Omi: No, thank you Larry. Yeah [inaudible 00:18:18]. I'm glad you had the opportunity to really acknowledge all the folks who made the series happen.
Larry Adelman: So are we finished now?
Michael Omi: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:18:30]. Let's do a brief backstory. It's the dawn of the 21st Century. There's a lot going on in the country. What was kind of an initial motivation or inspiration to take on this series? What were you trying to do?
Larry Adelman: Wow, that was a long time ago. Two things, one is Newsreel. Newsreel is a distributor of films, not just a producer. So we could say that we're in touch when people use them. We sort of got a sense of what was not just out there but what wasn't out there? And how the film is for you since we talked to people every day?
Larry Adelman: And we could see conversations on racism in many cases going right past each other. And we realize for all the discussion and interest in race. That nobody ever really stepped back to ask this question like what is this idea of race anyway? You know, even today if you ask 10 people what is race? You're likely to get 10 different answers. At the same time at that time we had of course ... It was Ward Connerly. Remember Ward Connerly?
john powell: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Larry Adelman: Ohhh, yeah. Leading the charge against affirmative action with his successful Proposition 209. The consequences and results of which still dealing with. And arguing that we live in a post racial world. As indicated before, are talking about the importance of colorblindness. Why are we giving racial preferences, he would ask slyly? You know that Civil Rights Movement was 30 years ago.
Larry Adelman: It was as Eduardo Bonilla-Silver wrote in a Seminole article which would turn into a great book. [inaudible 00:20:11] of racism without races. Meantime, there was a lot of diversity training going on. If you remember, those of you who can remember. Too much of which I think in my estimation, was encouraging participants to respect each others differences. Well that was good as far as one goes.
Larry Adelman: But what that tended to do too often was take the symmetry of racism and sort of neuter it by reducing racism to a symmetry of races. We all have a race, right? And at the same time, rendered the structures, the structures that produce and reproduce racism invisible. And finally at the same time however. On the other hand, it was becoming trendy to begin to talk about race as being socially constructed.
Larry Adelman: But that acknowledgement in too many circles seemed to end the discussion rather than the beginning. How is it constructed? How is it made? How does it change over the years? And people then back and say okay. Race is socially constructed and then go back then talk about racism as they always did. Like there's three races or maybe five or perhaps it's 55. But anyway, there was this assumption of great difference.
Larry Adelman: So as a result I began to read and talk to other people and began the great speaking to the scholars we brought onboard. Got the best education money can't buy. Personal seminars, it was just great. But what I realized and I think when realizing about the things like the recent origins, not the ancient origins of the idea of race.
Larry Adelman: Realizing the way in which it's so deeply embedded in our history. Realizing how the genetics of human variation. While there are geographic patterns cannot be mapped onto what we call races. Learning of course the way in which governing policies and practices, particularly through redlining. Created and in fact the segregated white suburbs and the advantages which I was able in my family, took advantage of.
Larry Adelman: But the important thing here. What I want to say is I didn't know any of this. I was flabbergasted, I said how come I don't know this stuff? Why isn't this ... I mean it makes so much sense. Now I'm not college educated but I was involved in the Civil Rights and moving struggles since I was in high school. And I'm relatively well read and yet I didn't know about this. And there were no films on it. So, that's what really inspired that work.
Michael Omi: Great. John, what got you into it? What was intriguing to you about this project and about its approach to looking at questions around race?
john powell: Well, you know I think race is the crucible to actually understanding America. And sometimes we think about race or issues of race or concern about race as an issue for people of color. Without understanding the role of whiteness as an ideology. And as Larry said, I think also the confusion around race is consequential. It's not something that people have different ideas about race. You may have often hear me say that race and racism, which are two different things. And racialization is the third thing.
john powell: Those things are not rocket science. They're harder than rocket science. And like gravity, I feel like all of us have a weight. I talk about how much you weigh, usually we cheat. Usually knock down a few pounds. The scale is wrong. But by some accounts they say ... I asked for physicist to say there are only about 12 people in the world that really understand gravity. It's consequential. Without gravity, no Earth. Without gravity, no people.
john powell: But it's the complexity of it, it's profound. And so to me one of the things about this project is it started to peel away some of the complexity. And as Larry said, we're sort of coming into our own. At least through the Academy and through research to say that race is socially constructed. But that actually doesn't tell us very much. In fact, a lot of people use that concept to actually run away from race.
john powell: So to get a thing like since race is not real, why are we spending so much time with it? And they miss the critical point that not only is race socially constructed but the question is how is it constructed? What work is it doing and why? And the why is very important because when you think about the why, you realize that the elites are using race to actually structure the economy, to structure our political system.
john powell: So when we're really talking about race, we're not talking about I got stopped by a police. Yes, that's part of it. But it's like the whole construction of our society. Paul Krugman in one of his books, The Conscious Level of a Liberal. He writes this at the time that Obama is coming on the scene. So he writes, he's noble economist. Most of you probably read him in the New York Times.
john powell: And he says you can't understand the economics in the United States and economic structure without understanding race. And on the left we actually have people concerned about race, usually people of color. And the people concerned about class and economy, usually progressive whites. And they fight each other. Which one is more important? How are they interrelated?
john powell: And Krugman is saying, you know what? You can't get it. He almost gets it right because at the very end of the book he said, that was true up until now. Because now we're entering into this post racial society where race is no longer gonna be important. So part of it is, again to me, the understanding of race. The sort of unearthing that which I think Race-The Power of an Illusion is one of the most profound expressions of that.
john powell: Gives us an insight into the entire society. Not just about black people, not even just about white people. But about our structures, about our political systems, about economic systems. And if we really understand it, it also hints at a way to go forward. So I often say one, race is a process. Race is a verb, it's not a thing. It's a verb, it's a process. What are we doing? How are we doing it?
john powell: And two, that it's actually changing in front of our very eyes. And it gives us insight into not just race but into identity period. So one of the things I often times say as well is that it's not simply that race is socially constructed, which it is. But so is gender, so is the self. And no one would say well since the self is socially constructed, it's not real. Let's not have a self.
john powell: And so race is a scientific fiction but it's a social fact with serious consequences. And again I think, Race-The Power of an Illusion, the film began to do that. And the last thing I'll say is when I showed the film to friends and including my father. And those of you who know me know I always talk about my father and my mother. My mother passed away, they're sharecroppers. My dad is 98, creeping up on 100.
john powell: And he's lived most of ... Many of the things in terms of Jim Crow. In terms of literally being taken off of sharecropper land to put sandbags for rising waters to save white land. So think about that. Taking black people to risk their lives, to save white land. That's part of his life. To be moved to the segregated south to the segregated north. To buy a house that I grew up in. That he had to buy on a land contract because he couldn't get money.
john powell: To sell that house recently. The house that he raised nine kids in. That was immaculate to the time he left. He sold it recently for $5,000 in Detroit. So, these are real things. You can have real meat to these bones. So my dad saw the film, he cried. He said I lived that but I hadn't put the whole story together. These were incidents I hadn't realized there was a through line.
john powell: So again like many people, when you think about race. You think about being black or being whatever. But not about where he lives. Not about where his kids go to school. Not about the fact that my great grandmother died because she couldn't get into the hospital because of the way we organize race. So the film helps us see all that.
john powell: So to me the only regret I would have in terms of the film is that there is ... How many of you have seen the movie Fast and Furious? There's Fast and Furious 1, there's Fast and Furious 2, there's Fast and Furious 3. Literally, I think we're up to eight now. So we should have Race-The Power of an Illusion 1, 2, 3, 4. So I know Larry wants to kick back and sort of enjoy life but we need not only the website. We need the next version of Race-The Power of an Illusion.
Larry Adelman: Yeah.
Michael Omi: Either the film series is organized along three broad, what do you call it. Rubrics, frames, lenses. Could either of you maybe talk about why the decision to organize the series in that form? And whether or not that form still has continued relevance today?
john powell: Why don't you tell them about the three rubrics.
Michael Omi: Yeah, he should explain that for those of you who haven't seen it.
Larry Adelman: In essence the three episodes, each an hour, is the history of the idea. The science of human variation and of course race doesn't, it's not biologically enate. Where is it produced and reproduced? And that is the way in which how it manifests itself today and by disproportionately channeling power, status and wealth. And folks who look like me, white folks.
Larry Adelman: You mentioned your father. My story, my family is the flip side of that. See, I grew up with my father in the GI Bill. Was able to get a house in one of those post war suburbs in a place called Miracle Long Island on the south shore. And as a result, when that house appreciated in value. When my father was able to. When he retired and sold that place in 1990.
Larry Adelman: The house that he had bought for I think 19 or $20,000 many years ago. He sold for $300,000, we're talking 1990. So, that's a appreciation of value of how many times? From $20,000 to, our math wizes here, to $300,000. And with that money, he was able to help three kids go to college. Well one dropped out. Helped his kids put down payments to their homes. It's how we got our place. Helped with the down payment.
Larry Adelman: Where as you know ... But I didn't know this story. Nor did anyone else. All those white kids who grew up in that white suburb didn't know that story. Now like the suburb, was adjacent to a town that is in the show called Roosevelt. Which became a black suburb if you remember. And not only that with only three miles from Levittown.
Larry Adelman: So in a certain, there was let's just say there was sort of a personal interest in trying to sell this story. Tell that particular story once I learned it. But I didn't know it and this is what was blowing my ... How could I not. Was I living with blinders? We all were as white folks. We just didn't get this stuff.
Larry Adelman: The history of the idea, that was one and I'll stop at that one. Was also ... I like to quote Mark Twain's old adage that it's not what you don't know that hurts. It's what you think you know that ain't so. And our President proves that every day. But it also has to do with race. For example, I really thought that race and racism was always part of western culture. People saw differences but the idea of race. The idea that this innate biological difference really began, if you follow the work of say Barbara Fields and Evan Morgan and others.
Larry Adelman: Not with slavery, actually but with democracy. Up until then, slavery had been an unquestioned natural fact of life. Nobody questions it, they're hierarchies you know. There was the peasant and the ward. The lord and the king. The king to the king of kings. There were these natural hierarchies and slavery was part of that deal.
Larry Adelman: By an accident of history, African's became slaves here in the United States. And then however and live side by side with indentures servants from England and then however, in early colonial North America. But then we have Jefferson and those self evident truths that all men are created equal. And as Fields and others points out. For the first time you have this radical affirmation of freedom and equality.
Larry Adelman: And as a result and this is belief. This is the walking stuff of the people who are making the building, making our Revolutionary War. As a result, for the first time slavery needs a radical defense. It never needed a defense before. Of course the slaves protested but among the rest of the folks. So how is it in a nation? A nation that manifests a profound belief in equality.
Larry Adelman: The only way it could justify slavery or rationalize slavery was say there's something different about those people. They don't have the capacity for freedom. And in that sense, you see the beginnings of this notion of race as a biological difference. But racism, she argued, gives birth to this idea of race. It's not the adverse. It's not that we think of people with different.
Larry Adelman: It's the fact that we have people who are oppressed. A group of people oppressed and that oppression needs to be justified or rationalized. Now it's a little more complicated than that but the simple thing. And that idea of race becomes a template. It becomes an all purpose justifier. For the Indian removal and genocide to the Mexican American War. You look at the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Larry Adelman: You go through the occupation of the Philippines. Even the eastern southern European immigrants. And it was just, again, all this stuff was so mind boggling for me. That demanded a film of its own. So, that's how we sort of ... Each of these subjects. And that's why we called it, by the way, Race. Not episode, the story we tell because race is a story in many ways to rationalize those inequalities.
Michael Omi: john, what do you think about those? Well, let's go different on the three frames. In many respects, some of the things which the film touches upon. Many of the kinds of structural inequality have went over the deep end over the last 15 years. About patterns of residential segregation, health disparities, incredible wealth inequality and of course mass incarcerations as well. Are there trends or issues we've missed over these last 15 years in thinking about the film?
john powell: Well the world, hopefully we keep learning. Part of being alive is to learn. And race is not one thing, it's many things. I sometimes compare to cancer. Cancer is not one disease, it's many diseases. It keeps mutating. So the way we did race as a practice 100 years ago is not how we do race today.
john powell: We couldn't have done race like we did it 50 years ago and had President Obama elected. So the way we do race keeps changing. And in a change we have an opportunity to learn new things. So for example, 50 years ago we didn't talk about implicit bias. The assumption was that we are completely, our minds are completely transparent. We know what we want and think. And we know who we are.
john powell: And now the science is coming out around the mind science, in particular implicit bias'. No, that's not true. That the unconscious mind is actually the largest part of the mind. It's not under our control. Here's one of the interesting things in terms of that lesson. It's that people then think of race and racism as prejudice. As activity between two people which is not accurate.
john powell: People at one point, I often times say this. I'm old enough to have watched part of the racial migration in my own lifetime. I was born as a colored boy. No one asked me. It's like if yo go back to old birth certificates you'll see C for colored. At some point, those would change from colored to negro. It's not just a change in nomenclature. It's also a change in social location and it's not just the social location of negros. It's the social location of whites and other people as well.
john powell: And then the first public figure as a black man who was black was Malcolm X. And blackness was the defiance space. It was a revolutionary space. Whereas, the negro is like an accommodating space. And now we sort of like African American. And then we have African Americans but then what about all the people from Nigeria who are Africans but not really Americans?
john powell: So do we need new nomenclature? And the answer is yes. It's sort of constantly evolving and I think from my perspective. One of the things that we're slipping back into as a progressive movement is the kind of racial essentialism. That we're not paying enough attention to and I'll give you a concrete example.
john powell: I just was at a big meeting of the ACLU about 1,500 people. And people arguing about should white people just talk to white people? Should black people just talk to black people? Should Latinos, it's like each group go fix it. First of all, race a process is radically relational. It doesn't make sense in a deep way to way without black people there are not white people. Without white people, there are no black people.
john powell: So it's deep in relation. We haven't actually delve into that in a real way. The reason you had Anti-Miscegenation Laws are because people were miscegenating. So someone says help, stop that, stop that. And the good news is folks, we're miscegenating now. So I'll give you a concrete example. So have these big meeting, smart people. They see you and they're saying we each belong to our own groups and we shouldn't be whatever.
john powell: And I do this, right. I said the concept of interfamilies. That is if someone is in your family of a different race or ethnicity, it's called interfamily. I hate the term, it needs to come with a different term. So as an experiment, it's someone in your family. In your intimate relationship of a different race or ethnicity, raise your hand. Look around the room, everybody.
john powell: So, when someone says ... And this is one of the things we haven't learned Michael. When someone says you know what. Whites can't be in the racial justice movement except as allies because they are twice removed or they're the problem. Okay, that makes sense right. Except what if I'm white with a black child? What if I'm Latino with an Asian child? What if I'm Asian with?
john powell: So now my fight for racial justice is not simply about an ally, it's not my family. It's interesting, we have not integrated that into our movement. We actually ... And a number of people who are interfamilies by some accounts is approaching 90 million people. Where are they in this movement? Where is that discourse in the movement? It's absent. It's amazing that it's absent.
john powell: And we have a time to sort of rethink this and Denise who took over from Taeku who took over for Michael is now pushing us to say 2019, the 400th anniversary of slavery in the US. What does that mean? How is slavery migrated? How is it still with us?
john powell: So there's still a lot we haven't learned but we are leaning. We're learning about the relationship between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. We're learning that relationship between structures and we're learning the relationship between the process of othering racially and the process of othering in terms of religion.
john powell: We're learning the relationship between othering race and authoritarianism. And yet we have as Larry said, this sort of deep ignorance that we keep advancing. And so new case on affirmative action and the argument is always that affirmative action is bad because there are a group of people, mainly white but now Asians too. Who really worked hard to get whatever they've got and they deserve it.
john powell: And as I said some years ago. We make that argument on merit. We assume that white people, as Hofschild talks about. As strangers in their own land. Which is an interesting title. And I think the book is work or read. But I also say how did the land get to be their land? Strangers in their own land. They could say strangers in somebody else's land.
john powell: And so there's an assumption still of deep entitlement for whiteness with an absence of the elites. When Larry is talking about the creation of whiteness. They at least consider us as white. Whiteness is the middle stratum. They actually haven't incorporated that into our learning as well either.
john powell: And we need to fight more than just interracial stuff. We need to fight the elite and the way that at least we use race. Use the other to actually construct society. The last thing I'll say on this is that, last two things. Okay, last three. No, last two.
john powell: Race is changing. The way we do race today is not the way people would do it 10 years from now. The way I did race, I've been doing race in my life is not the way my granddaughter would do race. Race is changing and not just race of black people, white people. Race is changing for all of.
john powell: That's actually one of the great anxieties in the world and it's being used. We create a new inclusively or not. And we have to get away from racial essentialism, even in the progressive community. And we have to help people who categorize themselves as white and think they earned whatever they get to realize that it's not that they earned what they get. I'm not saying they didn't work hard. It's not saying whatever. But they just happen to be the white person at the white place at the white time.
Michael Omi: That's good, make a good book title. I'm gonna try and be mindful of the time here. Particularly for the second panel. Larry, I'm gonna give you the last opportunity here to say something about what's been interesting or surprising to you about the reception to Race-The Power of an Illusion and it's enduring impact.
Larry Adelman: Most obviously I think that it's still being used 15 years after it's released. And I suppose on the one hand that's a tribute to us and the job we did. On the other hand, I think it's really sad. And sad that number one, that nothing else has apparently come along to do this work better on film.
Larry Adelman: And number two, as John eluded to before. We still need it, we're still fighting many of the same battles. And even though the terms have changed, it is just. If anything, I think it would be the battle lines are drawn even stronger. So, that's one ... I was surprised about. We knew the film would be ... Because the film was so filled all these ah ha moments for folks.
Larry Adelman: We knew the film would be used widely. We were surprised by how well it was received by the mainstream media. Despite the fact that it came out just in the afternoon of the Iraq War. Is that still going on? The invasion of Iraq, I should say the initial invasion. The second, it was widely reviewed. Editorials, columnists, on the radio.
Larry Adelman: It was panned by the New York Times. Alessandra Stanley felt like it was boring and didn't say anything new. But the Washington Post did three articles on it, three pieces. The Times actually then went back and did end up feature on Levittown. In post war, how the creation of the post war segregated suburb. The characters in the film.
Larry Adelman: And then most of all, it was used in a lot of academic. It was shown in a lot of academic conferences which is critical thanks to the work of our outreach director at the time, Timothy Howard. And our publicist, Gwen McKinney.
Larry Adelman: So for example, Troy Duster was a time with the President of the American Social [inaudible 00:47:20] Association. The big event at the ASA in Atlanta. In which the film was screened and debated. And most of all with thanks to the discussion guide and the tools that we put up on the website. People were able to easily bring it into their work. In both formal and nonformal education. And so how widely it was used. We know of the ... But the fact that my nephew said to me one day many years ago. If I have to see your film one more time. That's surprised me.
Michael Omi: That's great, thank you. Well listen, I'd like to thank my fellow OG's here and we'll do this again in 15 years. But we'll transition now to the second panel. Thank you.
Victoria Robinson: So I'm Victoria Robinson Robinson. I have the great privilege of being the director for the American Culture Center. But I just want to point out, is Ron here? Ron Choy? Here's Ron. Ron actually made the AC Center what it is. He created the community that it depends on and nurtures. And Ron Choy was the co-conspirator. Full partner with Troy in putting the American Cultures Program together. So, thanks for all that you've done in the Ivan Heritage Run.
Victoria Robinson: So the AC Center helps to govern the American Cultures Curriculum. How many people in here have taken an AC course? So, the rest of you haven't and need to. Come and see me afterwards. The AC requirement is the only campus graduation requirement. And as Ron would often say, could you imagine a group of UC Berkeley faculty actually deciding on anything?
Victoria Robinson: One thing and agreeing on it. And what would be the thing that they would agree on that would be so important that the one campus graduation requirement that you couldn't. This was it, this was your singular Berkeley experience. You couldn't get away with graduating without it.
Victoria Robinson: What would be the question? And it would be race. And the American Cultures requirement is hooked into the ways in which race is singular and central to the American experience. And how it's comparativity, it's relationship to our social structures, to its ongoing dynamism. How that's always present in the way in which you experience America.
Victoria Robinson: So for those of you who don't know me because you're like, what the hell is this white British woman up there doing? As Director of the AC Center, I always say revenge. So anyway, enough jokes. That's how we thought we'd role today. I want to be ... I'm just really grateful that we have these three wonderful people up here with us.
Victoria Robinson: And so many others in the audience. But first of all, let me say that this new website. That accompanies the film, the great film. Is trying to do the next layer and level of work that's being named on the stage already. Is that no pun intended, the fundamental DNA of Race-The Power of an Illusion is still there and intact.
Victoria Robinson: And what we did with a group of thought partners across campus is imagine it's 21st century experience. What would it look like to take this film in the next generation of its life and engage the ways in which we as the public, its community, as academics. And thinking about the relationship with the film today.
Victoria Robinson: So I invite you to have a look at what that looks like. We've reframed and founded some of the ways in which we think about the questions in the film. We've created questions around new structures of the film. And we really depended upon the expertise of the UC Berkeley community to imagine how we think and teach about the subject framework today.
Victoria Robinson: So I want to thank all the Berkeley faculty who've already been interviewed. As you look and experience the website outside on some of the laptops. You'll be able to see these Berkeley experts thinking about their own work. And we've not approached you yet, you are so not off the hook. Just you wait for that email. And then we'll get you on camera too.
Victoria Robinson: What I have here is three colleagues from across the campus who I think are gonna be able to really engage us in these new dimensions of the film and the relativity of the film to their work today. Dr. Darlene Francis from the School of Public Health and Neuroscience. The big AC course that she used to teach and integrated biology takes its name from one of the films that is inspired by Race-The Power of an Illusion.
Victoria Robinson: And the course was called Unnatural Causes-Is Inequality Making Us Sick? Sound familiar? Yeah, one of the most popular AC courses in the bioscience here at Berkeley. Dr. Jason Corburn in the School of Public Health in city and regional planning. Can you see how hard we make our faculty work that they have to have multiple appointments.
Darlene Francis: We're bad models of-
Victoria Robinson: Bad models. Jason teaches again, one of these big AC courses of which the legacy of Bill Satariano is written into that course. Bill also used to use a natural causes in the framing of this big introduction to community health. 350 students at the last count, right Jason?
Victoria Robinson: And then Lulu Matute who is a bit of nepotism going on here because Lulu and I are great friends and she's a student of mine. Lulu is a fantastic organizer, scholar. Is joining a caravan from Honduras to Mexico tomorrow. The work that she's presented on this campus for the House Scholars Program problematizes the very categories of thinking that is being framed by the immigration debate too.
Victoria Robinson: Which of course are anchored into our understandings of race and racial others. So can you please welcome our three colleagues to the stage. Okay, I lost my mic. Michael, you made this look too easy. It's not easy.
Darlene Francis: He did.
Victoria Robinson: All right, Darlene. Let's go from left to right. Or your right to my left. Since the film was created 15 years ago it's at the dawn of a field called epigenetics. Now epigenetics is something that is very central to the work that you do. Can you tell us where that field is now since the lanch of this film and how central is the connection of race and epigenetics?
Darlene Francis: So I feel like I almost want to connect something that Larry and John said talking about how we operationalize and define it where a lot of big current field comes from because we're talking about epigenetics. But I think we have to talk about the construct of genetics and where that comes from.
Darlene Francis: And so in my work, we were talking about sort of the massive platforms now where you can go and genotype yourselves and sort of have your ethnic heritage reported back to you and all of those things. And I forgot that I had done that ages ago for myself. So I just went to see my most recent 23andMe profile.
Darlene Francis: And I'm curious how many people in the room have used any of those platforms to look at yours? Just raise your hands high. So quite a few people. And it's interesting and sort of as a scientist and as a neurobiologist for me it was even ... It was really not about the science for me. It was actually quite personal when I did that.
Darlene Francis: So I am a neurobiologist. I started my research and my training as an undergraduate. As somebody who was really interested in genetics. And if I ask you, we're talking so much about race and sort of Victoria Robinson standing up there and declaring her identity. So if I had to ask the room to categorize me in any of those three, five or seven races. What would you lead with?
Speaker 6: [inaudible 00:54:58]
Darlene Francis: Huh?
Speaker 6: Mixture.
Darlene Francis: Mixture, anybody? Yeah.
Speaker 7: [inaudible 00:55:04]
Darlene Francis: Yep, anybody. I'll ask you to define which-
Speaker 7: [inaudible 00:55:09]
Darlene Francis: Yep.
Speaker 7: [inaudible 00:55:13]
Darlene Francis: Yep, anybody else? That's not a category though, right. That's not a category. So I've been in the US, I'm Canadian. If you hear about, you'll know that I'm Canadian. And I came to the US at age 30 and I had a PhD in neurobiology and I was introduced everywhere as doctor, doctor, doctor.
Darlene Francis: I was doing my HR paperwork and I was doing research training at Emery University in Atlanta. And the HR people were really angry at me because I refused to check any of those boxes. I'd never been asked to identify my race ever. For 30 years it was just me. And I made a lot of people happy because they got to take credit for all of those.
Darlene Francis: So my father is black and black from Nova Scotia. And there's a really interesting history about the black population in Nova Scotia which is related to the slave trade. So I printed up my 23andMe really for entertainment purposes. So, that's how I used this platform. For purely entertainment purposes.
Darlene Francis: And then my mother is First Nations Mi'kmaq and the world treats me like a white woman. And my experiences going through the world and my little sister and I look like all of the women in my mother's family. My voice quivers when I tell this story because it's life. And my sister looks like all of the women in my father's family.
Darlene Francis: And we've had such different trajectories with similar opportunities. Similar home life. I'm a tenure Berkeley professor in the states. My sister was in the Canadian military. She was a single mother, you know. Got shot at and I would argue and use the single data set from my family. That my mom had five kids, same parents.
Darlene Francis: That if you stratified us by skin color, you'd be right and made any predictions. You would be right. Whether we're talking about health, whether we're talking about wealth. Whether we're talking about opportunities. In any category you would be right. So think about that and I go through the world being treated dramatically different from my siblings.
Darlene Francis: So when I was finishing high school in the late 80's and early 90's. I studied genetics because we were told and I was told that genes are the answer. All of the variability that we experience in the world is due to genetics. And so if I'm gonna understand why I'm a white kid in a black ... And my siblings identify as black. And I don't identify as anything, right.
Darlene Francis: So I can tell you how the world treats me. And when it matters, the narrative that I tell for purposes. I study genetics because that's where all the answers were gonna be and the longer I spent going deeper and deeper and more reduced and more cellular and more molecular. The further away I got from what I knew to be my experience. And how that was represented.
Darlene Francis: And so the research that I do is really debunking a lot of this gene centric. Again, we're talking about race. I would extend that and say we need to talk about our genetic constructs and the role of genes. Because that really is underlying these platforms and the presumption that these genetic differences are creating or dictating our reality.
Darlene Francis: And so my research has really demonstrating controlling for all of the usual critiques and variables that our lived experiences are really the most powerful predictors of outcomes that most of us or many of us care about. And using that in different platforms. I forget how I started this. Oh, so I was gonna share my 23andMe.
Victoria Robinson: Darlene, as you do that can you say. There is some fuel going on. You just saw how many people in the room, as you said. They've done that genetic testing. What kind of misconceptions are being fueled?
Darlene Francis: So let me tell you for folks who've done it. Do you understand how they generate that data to feed back to you? How that happens? It's really easy and inexpensive now to genotype. In my research program, every time we would get access to different gene sequences. We would genotype ourselves in the lab for fun. And I'm interested in stress and social behavior, truly for fun.
Darlene Francis: It was expensive and now that it's so affordable. So genotyping is the easy part. The science, sort of that extracting. Taking blood or taking saliva actually for these tests is super easy. Now you can do it for 200 bucks or 100 bucks. So, that's the easy part. And then you send it off and then you get data back. So few people know what happens between when you spit in that saliva tube and when the data comes back.
Darlene Francis: So I printed this up actually. I just went to their website thinking about what we're gonna talk about. And I actually didn't know what the sample sizes were. So the genotyping is done in the labs to extract your DNA and sequence it. And then to get your categorization back about your ethnic heritage or racial heritage.
Darlene Francis: It's really statistical programming and modeling. And I would argue and for certain that folks who are engaged in issues of race and ethnicity in those topics are not at the table framing these discussions. And I can promise you that I am not represented in this, right.
Darlene Francis: No indigenous populations from North America or any of the America's are captured in any of the platforms that are currently genotyping. So there's that. And think about how many billion people are on this planet. And the total sample size for these reference populations that they're feeding back to all of us is 11,000 people.
Darlene Francis: So in this room we captured more diversity than that, in this room. So I use it for entertainment purposes. And for teaching purposes. The most recent example playing out in popular media with Elizabeth Moore and Donald Trump. Not my [inaudible 01:01:20]. So not my friend.
Darlene Francis: The ridiculousness of that. And there are no indigenous people who have contributed to any of these populations. So my questions are who identifies the populations? Who defines the populations? What informs those decisions and because these are commercially available platforms. I promise you that what's over represented are rich white people, right. And what's not represented are people who can't afford to do this and certainly not any of us who are anything in between.
Victoria Robinson: Well because, as you named it, this is exciting and entertaining information. We'll come back to you in a second if that's okay. Jason, you famously wrote a book called Street Science. I'm really interested in asking you a couple of questions. So one is that as we already heard from John and Larry and Michael that the ways in which race was used to create the tools of redlining. How property and space and opportunity and wealth are so interwoven.
Victoria Robinson: And how in the work that you do with communities around health equity work? How are you seeing those very exclusions then create the basis for new exclusions? And what does that look like in how you're thinking about your work? But secondly and I have ... Does anybody know the great Carlos Munoz? [inaudible 01:02:45] Chicano studies and ethnic studies, right.
Victoria Robinson: So he famously thinks about and social movement theory. The idea that communities have been segregated. So those very ways in which communities are pushed into places and geographies that create a specific kind of unit of belonging. How segregation becomes congregation.
Victoria Robinson: And so it's really interesting that we're at this moment perhaps. And John pushed us into this thinking of the idea of race being a positive. Identity being a place that we belong to, that we congregate around. That we create knowledge from. And in your book Street Science you're really trying to remind us that the ways in which we think about the issues that are circulating in our lives.
Victoria Robinson: The communities that are most impacted by them already have in some ways. The knowledge and experience to deal with them. So I'm wondering if you can talk more about geographies and exclusions and identities around racial categories. Also being places of congregation. A place to come from in a positive sense and not just in a negative sense.
Jason Corburn: Yeah, Victoria Robinson always has the most challenging questions.
Victoria Robinson: It's nearly cocktail time so just you wait.
Jason Corburn: Yeah so I can talk about the book but I was also gonna talk about the power and the impact of the film in my own teaching and research. I really work at the intersection of place and racism. And how that has shaped people's experiences, health outcomes, opportunities. Particularly in the United States and the growth and the creation of places like cities and neighborhoods and suburbs are completely racialized.
Jason Corburn: As many know and have already been said in this country. And I think ... So in my own work, the film for example, is really important because it provides a historical context and a trajectory of a set of overlapping decisions. This didn't just happen by magic and the role of intentional institutions that have excluded.
Jason Corburn: And using racism to exclude by place and land and to gain wealth and all the other things. I thought Darlene was gonna talk about eugenics because then I was gonna have a comment about eugenics. And its kind of reemergence in the modern moment. But importantly, the film touches on eugenics as historic. Its historic moment which influences. Had a strong influence in many sciences including public health.
Jason Corburn: In our statistics we use today and city planning as it rises to figure out how to design "healthy places" and justify access to suburbs. So it's an important anchor point. But of course it doesn't go away and I think for me that's a really important aspect of the film. And what we're talking about here is that we haven't really learned many of the lessons that the film exposes us to.
Jason Corburn: Another really important aspect of place and health and I'll get to Victoria Robinson's question is the role of a housing policy. And again, we're seeing in the current moment. The perpetuation of exclusion and displacement and intentional decisions by many institutions, government, financial and others. Around housing and place and disruption of place.
Jason Corburn: That obviously was racialized through federal housing policy and Jim Crow segregation. And that hasn't gone away. We haven't taken on explicitly in this country in any real way I don't think. Racial residential segregation, not as a historical but a contemporary challenge that continues to shape opportunities for different folks.
Jason Corburn: In terms of my own work now, is really working in partnership with communities. For example, on issues of environmental justice. That folks who are experiencing exclusion and the burdens. How that gets into our bodies, like Darlene's work. But how they see that in their everyday lives, have a form.
Jason Corburn: I argue and many others, it's not unique to me. A form of expertise that we often ignore in science. Another way that we racialize and excluded who counts in the evidence that's supposed to drive our decisions. So, my work really tries to value people's local knowledge. Their lived experience as actual science and part of the data that ought to be heard and brought to the fore to change power relationships. To change decisions that change inequalities around exposures. Around decisions around who gets access to housing or land. Or how local government decisions are made.
Jason Corburn: I just came this morning from a team that I'm working with of folks who are returning from prison. Reentry population who are working in their communities as street outreach mentors to reduce violence. And really bring a set of healing skills to communities that have been historically traumatized.
Jason Corburn: So we don't recognize this as really valuable. It's seen as the fringes of different fields and what I'm trying to really do in my own work and with that book and other things. And in collaboration with a lot of folks here is the center of that in our fields and in our discipline. And in the things that we should be teaching here at Cal.
Victoria Robinson: Thanks Jason, we'll come back to that. And then Lulu is a young scholar who was also involved in constructing the website and thinking through how it would demonstrate a new generation of thinking around the work of race. How do you take up the work of race that comes from Race-The Power of an Illusion? And how does that influence how you think and how you organize?
Lulu Matute: Thank you, how do I take up the work? Well first is unlearning everything I've learned. And I think that-
Victoria Robinson: Hopefully not from me.
Lulu Matute: No, no I'm keeping some of that. Unlearning race in the way that I phone up. Thank you for sharing your personal narrative. I'll add to that as a racially ambiguous person that I identify. My parents are from Honduras. My dad is from the Caribbean Island of [Canouan 01:09:17] and my mom is from the main land.
Lulu Matute: She identifies as [Salenca 01:09:21] indigenous. Garifuna mother, so black brown mother. My father's family is both [Inca 01:12:01] and Spanish. From Spain, my last name Matute coming from the port of Spain. In my family, around our dinner table it's a rainbow coalition. And likewise, our experiences are very different.
Lulu Matute: My process of unlearning has also been an unlearning of race here in the US on the Berkeley campus. And and unlearning of race when I go back to the island because I experience race. Female typically, I'm read very differently on a Caribbean island then in a Berkeley library. Also what I'm projecting out into the world based on geography changes.
Lulu Matute: And I am an American born citizen. I hate that I have to lead with that often but I do because there are all these privileges that are tied to that. I'm also fairly relatively light skinned and there's so many privileges tied to that when I make it back home to [inaudible 01:10:28] and to Honduras.
Lulu Matute: My sister, who female typically, is read an India indigenous, if 4 feet 11 inches. And when we walk next to each other everything changes. The way people read us walking into a room together. The way she interacts with me meaning she walks behind me. These weird little nuances that we've had to unlearn.
Lulu Matute: First, me personally having to unlearn them. But then as a family having to unlearn a lot of the way we internalized from navigating the world and navigating geography in these different spaces.
Victoria Robinson: Wow, that's quite something. So I don't want to keep doing this kind of one two three, one two, three. Have you heard something from each other that you would like to ask a question of the other?
Lulu Matute: Yeah 23andMe. I'm glad I didn't take that Groupon.
Victoria Robinson: Don't worry, UC Berkeley used it three years ago.
Lulu Matute: I'm glad I didn't do it but I thought about it as a lot of my friends did. And kind of comparing it kind of like, oh I'm a Taurus and a Leo and these percentages. We all want to identify. We all want to find community. We all want to be a part of something. And 23andMe is a great way to capitalize that need. Capitalize that urge of connection. But it's problematic.
Lulu Matute: I feel the complexities of it. Why is that I wanted to do that in the first place? What is it about my mother's indigenous blood? Inca language, like Spanish as a second language. That I really wanted to dig into and name it to a certain place. And my mother who I love never went to school.
Lulu Matute: One of the things I'm most proud of is teaching my mother how to write her name at nine years old. But she knows so, so much about the world. About cosmology, different word view. And when we get to talking about race. My mother is concept of it is very different. She said to me my [negra 01:12:28]. My grandmother, her mother. [inaudible 01:12:31], he's indigenous.
Lulu Matute: He's read as Indio but we are people of the land. So it's not necessarily about are you getting from that what the percentage of that is. Or female typically I look like this or that. Though we have all these categories in the states as we do on the islands. But my mother says it's about the land. Your connection to the land. Your ancestors, where you grew up. Where your parents came from. Where your grandparents came from.
Lulu Matute: Or where you were taken from because slavery is a very real history in the America's, in the Caribbean. And my mother talks about race or deconstructs race in her own cosmology, in her own world view through the relationship with land. When we talk about losing land. When we talk about expulsions from Honduras. When we talk about the migration of people. It's people of the land losing their land.
Lulu Matute: And it being absorbed into the criminal injustice system which is also benefiting, like 23andMe. A piece of what I wanted to understand a bit more. Instead of going to 23andMe and digging into that. What do you ... How do you lead someone who wants to learn more about ancestry, history, connection to land in the family?
Darlene Francis: So I will come full circle to how I meant to answer the first question which did sort of get to eugenics. Which is sort of how I do that as a scientist? I do it in my own work and my research is a pain in the ass for my fellow scientists because it's so hard to study context and history and development. Those are the hardest things and we don't have the methods to do it. We really don't have the methods.
Darlene Francis: In the school public health we have two courses focused on social epidemiology. One is a methods course and one is the contextualized how we're discussing today. And they're two separate courses. We haven't figured it out as academics. And certainly there's no satisfying my path talking about starting as a biochemistry and genetics major. And then discovering the brain.
Darlene Francis: So I went all in on the brain going if I want to understand where plasticity is at the level of the body. Then it's got to be the lived experience and this organ that's transducing this. Which led me in all sorts of different directions. But the graduate course that ... I would argue. So Thomas Kuhn who wrote Structure of Scientific Revolutions was quite a pessimist about change.
Darlene Francis: And he wrote an epilogue to structure scientific revolution seven years later. And he came back to sort of being a little bit more optimistic in arguing that unless we are effective communicators. We can go no where. And again, my experiences in neurobiologist has been completely separate from my person.
Darlene Francis: And it's infused my work but my pedagogy as a science student had none of this. So I found Race-Power of an Illusion after I came to Berkeley in 2005. I found Unnatural Causes and then I found all of Larry's work and then I got to know Larry and go hang out with him. I used these in teaching all day every day to really just reveal for specific, particularly students from STEM backgrounds in science. Who just ... Pedagogically we do a terrible job. And that hasn't changed in 15 years or 20 years.
Darlene Francis: Students who come find me to take my graduate course. I am very resoluted, it's not an absolute but it's not a methods course. This is a course about ideas and history and contextualizing science and they disappear, those students disappear. So we still have biologists here and we still have social scientists here. And kudos to the students from again. This is a graduate level course who are from their students who want to make a difference in the world.
Darlene Francis: So they're learning an awful lot about gene expression. They're learning an awful lot about one of the first classes that we discuss is Francis Galton who's responsible for the wizardry of genesis. And most of students have never questioned our concept of the gene. Or where that comes from and yet we're genotyping ourselves. And we're attributing or over attributing all of the things to this gene centric view of the world.
Darlene Francis: But we still live in a biological world and we're living in a sociological or psychological world when all of my research is demonstrating the intersection of that. Students from not science backgrounds are much more inimitable to that. And they're more than willing to learn the science that STEM students don't want to have these conversations because it makes their work much more complicated.
Darlene Francis: So studying environment and context and history and developmental history. So coming back to this notion of epigenetics and developmental programming. The syllabi for my course changes based on who's in the room. And so for the last two or three years cultural trauma is a huge topic of interest for students in the room.
Darlene Francis: And so then we talk about gene expression and developmental programming and intergenerational transmission of biological phenotypes. Not genotypes but phenotypes. And so I reveal for them so the science is not unwieldy. And that you're asking all of the right questions. But I'm much more optimistic about students who are coming from non-STEM backgrounds than students who are coming from STEM backgrounds. And that's my direct experience.
Victoria Robinson: So we're in the Banataou Auditorium so I hope somebody's listening to this. But yeah, Jason. How does this make you think about your work?
Jason Corburn: Yeah, I just wanted to briefly piggy back on this comment and say I appreciate that but we need to do better. If we're only relying on the social science type or humanities people to have this awareness that race is not genetics. I teach a community health class of 300 plus undergraduates last week or two weeks ago, whatever.
Jason Corburn: I asked them how many thought race was genetic? About half of them raised their hand because this is what they're learning and they're majors of molecular and biology and integrated biology. And every other place right here in this building and on this campus or they're not learning it enough from Darlene and others on this campus who are pushing back against that notion.
Jason Corburn: So, I don't think it's good enough that we say let's make sure that people who understand social context and stress and racism. And how that gets into our bodies and where they're coming from. And they'll take the outlyer courses or get into the outlyer AC experiences. We need to enter this again in these disciplines that kind of perpetuating race.
Victoria Robinson: I agree, I would argue our pedagogy is so far behind. We are decades behind.
Jason Corburn: Pedagogy and research. Why do we continue to fund folks at the NIH or the NSF who continue to kind of be in this space with big money?
Victoria Robinson: I'm exhausted with funding mechanisms where I have to convince my fellow neuroscientists that these things matter. And sometimes I can get two of them but I can't ever get the third. Not be appropriate funding mechanism because I have to convince them that the things that we know matter than most, matter to them. And it just doesn't happen, it's exhausting.