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NYT on Racism: Speaker Topics

Many of our past speakers have drawn our attention to the implicit bias against African-Americans that so thoroughly pervades American society. It is no secret that racism still exists, and that millions of people must fight against its role shaping their lives: they fight against the stereotypes that inform the first impressions they make, and the hesitance of others to allow them the same opportunities as those with white skin. Our speakers have joined this fight on various fronts. Verna Myers urges us to let go of the fear we might feel seeing a young black man walking down the street. Colin Stokes calls for better representation of minority heroes in movies, so we may all learn to see ourselves as heroes. This week, Adam Liptak wrote in the New York Times that African-Americans are frequently unfairly excluded from juries. What are called “peremptory excuses” – those that need no justification, but are a privilege of a lawyer hoping for a receptive audience – are three times as likely to be used against black jury candidates as against white ones in some areas. This excludes a whole demographic from participatory justice, and affects the outcome of cases in which the defendant is black, reducing the rate of acquittal by as much as 19 percent. The problem is not immediately apparent to society at large; how many of us regularly have a chance to examine the demographic makeup of a jury panel? But as Adam, Verna, Colin, and others point out, this is exactly the kind of awareness that will create a fairer society. Watch their talks to hear more!