- RACE IN AMERICA & the LEAD UP to the 2020 ELECTION -
Believe it or not; like it or not, race and racism are integral to the 2020 presidential election. This not because, unlike in recent past elections, anyone of color is in the running for the high office, but instead because of the current president who has laced his campaign and presidency with divisiveness, hate and racism. In fact, Donal Trump basically launched his bid for presidency on racist rhetoric directed at the then president, Barak Obama. Several years prior to Trumps official campaign launch, he began a campaign of lies against Obama discrediting Obama’s American citizenship and demanding the release of his birth certificate. examination of his birth certificate. This was to denounce the first black president, and to set the tone for what would be the running theme of his campaign’s platform and ultimately, his presidency. He has gone on to publicly insult Muslims and degrade Latino and defend Neo-Nazis.
Given the political climate of the last three and a half years, in conjunction with political tactics by the Republican Party over many years, such as gerrymandering and voter suppression, the stage has been set for heated debates on topics. As such, the 2nd Annual “Race in America” special panel event at Book Passage made race and politics the focus of discussion. The event drew in nearly 200 people from the community and beyond. Before things got started, the energy and excitement in the room was palatable. People were and are eager to learn about the hard issues and discuss their everyday application. As the organizer and moderator I came to the platform, literally, armed with information and questions, but also with a normal mix of excitement, pride and nerves. I wanted a big turnout, not for myself, but for the panelists, for the community and for the important issues at hand. I wasn’t disappointed. The event featured a carefully curated and diverse panel of Bay Area writers and agents of change and moderated by journalist and Book Passage host Paula Farmer. Each of the panelists brought their unique insights and expertise to the discussion, which was invaluable. Aya with her roots in activism and determined demeanor, shook us to our core with blunt words of truth and power. Mimi Lok, as a writer with her work with the disenfranchised and marginalized communities, brought the human aspects of racism and the importance of hearing everyone’s stories. Brian Copeland, as always, brought the power of truth, mixed with humor, while the academic panelist, Ian Haney Lopez who is an expert on “coded racism in American politics,” laid out the basic negative elements that led to the current climate.
“Once Trump was elected, more analysis (of racist tactics by Republican political leaders) wasn’t enough. I connected with communications specialists with unions, with think tanks, and we ran a two year research project to respond to Trump’s scaremongering, his dog whistle messaging. We tested messages to promote racial fear, economic populism. We tested a new tactic of race-class approach. This is an approach that says the right has weaponized racism against all of us, and only when we come together across racial lines, do we have the political power to stand up to these economic elites, get the good policies we need but also repair the harm done in the name of racism to all of our communities.”
This strong opening statement was one of many. Each of the panelists had their own brand of passion, instilling the need for change that we all can contribute. If knowledge is power - and it is - listening to the podcast of this live event, will enlighten, inspire and weaponize.
Panelists included …
Brian Copeland - Author (“Not a Genuine Black Man”) and comedian Brian Copeland.
Aya de Leon - Author (“Side Chick Nation”), political and social justice blogger.
Mimi Lok - author (“Last of Her Name”), executive director and editor for Voice of Witness.
Ian Haney Lopez - author (“Merge Left”), UC Berkeley law professor and commentator on coded racism in American Politics.
To hear the vital and vibrant discussion, go to the podcast on LibroFM/audiobooks/5184389278178?