The Perennial Racial Divide: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


Material Information

The Perennial Racial Divide: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Series Title:
"Civil" Society? On the Future Prospects of Meaningful Dialogue
Physical Description:
Steinberg, Stephen
Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, FL
Publication Date:


The Perennial Racial Divide: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back Stephen Steinberg (Queens College, CUNY) 15 October 2013, 5:30 pm, Smathers Library (East), 1A University of Florida The election of the first black President of the United States was a watershed event, and Barack Obama was widely hailed as “a transcendental figure” who mended the racial divide and augured a post-racial future. However, a close examination of voting patterns in the 2008 and 2012 elections indicates that the electorate was highly polarized racially. Indeed, the half-century since the passage of landmark civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965 has been an era of racial backlash that amounts to a counter-revolution on race. It has succeeded in driving one nail after another into the coffin of the civil rights revolution in such areas as affirmative action, employment discrimination, schooling, housing, welfare, food security, voting, and the evisceration of civil rights. This cold reckoning with history compels us to rethink the current state of race in America, as reflected in recent Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action and voting rights, as well as the acrimonious debates over the Trayvon Martin case.
Stephen Steinberg, a sociologist, is Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Beginning with The Ethnic Myth (1981, 1989, 2001), his intellectual project has been to challenge prevailing orthodoxies on race and ethnicity, both in academic and popular discourses. His next book, Turning Back: The Retreat from Racial Justice in American Thought and Policy (1995, 2001) received the Oliver Cromwell Cox award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship. His most recent book, Race Relations: A Critique (2007) was described by one reviewer as “a devastating exposé of a century of the discipline's theoretical bad faith, sociological mystification, and conceptual obfuscation of what should have been the central and obvious socio-historical fact of the white oppression of people of color in the United States." In addition to his academic publications, Steinberg has published articles in The Nation, New Politics, and other popular venues.
Organized by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, and co-sponsored by the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment), the Harn Eminent Scholar Chair in Art History Program, the UF Honors Program, the Alexander Grass Chair in Jewish History at UF, the UF International Center, the UF Office of Research, UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the UF Center for Jewish Studies, the UF Libraries, the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, the UF France-Florida Research Institute, the Hyatt and Cici Brown Endowment for Florida Archaeology, the UF Department of History, the UF African American Studies Program, the UF Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, UF College of Design, Construction and Planning, and the Alachua County Library District.

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