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Race matters in school admissions, and always has

Director john a. powell was on KQED Forum, one of the nation's largest public radio shows, this morning for a conversation about the Trump administration's announcement earlier this week that it was rolling back guidelines that allowed universities to consider race in student admissions. john discussed the necessity of race-conscious admissions procedures as a step towards reversing the effects of centuries of slavery, segregation, and government-mandated forms of racial discrimination. "The idea of having objective criteria for selection to me is problematic. ... The preference in this country has for almost its entire existence has been whiteness. And so how do we actually disrupt that? ... What affirmative action is really trying to do is correct what Lincoln acknowledged was the sins of the country being organized around whiteness, and you cannot do that without addressing race." Listen to this interview here.

And in this newly released video about race and admissions, we interviewed our assistant director Stephen Menendian about what's at stake with race in admissions.

"Admissions for universities and colleges are critical because these are the training grounds for the nation's leaders, the next generation. And they're also a critical run on the ladder of opportunity."

Listen to Stephen's remarks here. A scholar on affirmative action and segregation, Stephen co-authored an amicus brief for the Fisher v. University of Texas (2016) case in which the Supreme Court upheld that creating diversity on campuses was a compelling and permissible reason to consider race in admissions.

On Hip Hop and Belonging  

Several members of the Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity were on the UC Berkeley campus last month for a week-long seminar hosted by the Haas Institute which included conversations with leading thinkers, training exercises, and other activities. One of their events included an evening at the Oakland Museum for a reception and dialogue with Ericka Huggins, a human rights activist, poet, educator, Black Panther leader, and former political prisoner, and Davey D, a legendary hip hop journalist, DJ, and radio host. Huggins spoke on the role of spiritual practice in sustaining activism and promoting social change while Davey D led a dialogue on historical perspectives of hip hop, and how its culture creates communities of belonging.

The Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity is a non-residential, year-long program that will support a total of 350 fellows over its 10-year lifespan, annually supporting 35 fellows from the United States and South Africa. Read more about the program here.

Supreme Court rulings retreat from inclusion

The Haas Institute has weighed in on two recent Supreme Court rulings, highlighting their failure to uphold or advance a commitment to social inclusion. In its June 4 decision, the Court ruled 7-2 in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in favor of a baker whose shop had refused to prepare a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, citing religious reasons. In our statement, we expressed concern that the decision opens the door for the chipping away at legal protections and freedoms for members of the LGBTQ community. And in a June 26 ruling, the Court voted 5-4 to uphold Donald Trump's travel ban targeting mostly Muslim-majority countries. In our statement on that case, the Haas Institute lamented that the Court had effectively inscribed bigotry into American law.

Media and Updates

In the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine, our director john powell was interviewed and quoted at length about the national conversation on free speech. Using a focus on the spectacle last year when far-right agitators tried to use UC Berkeley as a venue to promote hate, powell noted that notions of speech and what is protected have changed over time. "No one is disputing how the courts have ruled on this. What I’m saying is that courts are often wrong," powell is quoted as saying in the article

Last year powell and the Institute spoke extensively about issues related to speech during the tensions on the Berkeley campus, and in other places like Virginia. powell makes the distinction between speech used to exchange ideas, and injurious speech that harms certain groups and members of our communities.
Separately, powell is quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle column about the latest incident of a white person calling the police on a Black person, in this case, an 8-year-old girl selling bottles of water outside her apartment in San Francisco without a permit. powell noted a pattern being witnessed across the country in which white supremacists are attempting to assert their dominance in public spaces. "You have (the president) basically saying, ‘No, we can reclaim white space. This is a white country, and people of color can only be in that space on our terms'," powell is quoted as saying in the story.

Upcoming events

Monday, July 9: UC Berkeley's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment will be hosting a seminar on Inclusive Economies for Cities and Regions featuring Chris Benner who is a professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at UC Santa Cruz, and Andy Pike, who is a professor of Regional Development Studies at the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies at Newcastle University in the UK. Learn more about this seminar here.

See all our upcoming and past events here.

Job opportunities

The Haas Institute is looking to fill several student and staff positions. Check out the links below for job descriptions:
  • Part-time law research assistants
  • Travel and Reimbursement Administrative Assistant (student position)
  • Targeted Universalism & Strategic Philanthropy Student Researcher
  • General Administrative Assistant (student position)
  • Undergraduate Student Website Assistant
  • Housing and Social Equity Student Researcher (graduate student position)
Find all our job openings posted on this page.

​​The next Othering & Belonging conference will be held April 8–10, 2019 in Oakland. Visit the conference website for updates on registration, scholarships, speakers, and all info related to the conference.

Find out more about the experience of the Othering & Belonging conference in this video montage of last year's event (video by Lea Bruno Productions).
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