Professor reflects on racial equality progress

By on January 28, 2014

By Lubna Hindi–

​Matthew Whitaker spoke on progress in racial equality this past Thursday as part of the on-going Project Progress.

Whitaker, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University, focused on how racism in America has changed since 1964.

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes,” quoted Whitaker. He discussed how although we have made progress, we haven’t made enough, we’re still moving to the same rhythm as 50 years ago, still grappling with issues of inequality and injustice.

​When asked how people could further progress, Whitaker responded, “I think interested parties and folks need to get together and identify and come to some agreements on what are the top three issues that confront you that you can all agree upon. One: Identify what the issue is and then identify who it affects the most. Two: Identify what are the methods you’re going to go about to address the problem. Three: Establish a timeline when you want to get it done. You can’t tackle everything, you have to have some sort of priorities or you will be desperate and it will be all over the place.”

“My main takeaway was that we are still very far from achieving true social justice. Particularly intriguing was the idea that perhaps there are fundamental flaws in our society that may prevent us from achieving an ideal egalitarian society,” said attendee Logan Lloyd.

Starting in 2013, Project Progress reflects back at each one of those years, not only to look at how far we’ve come, but also how far we have left to go. Ricky Jones, Chair of the Pan-African Studies Department, created Project Progress as a university wide commitment to explore issues and how we can make a difference to keep moving forward.

“Students can take away different perspectives and new or renewed energy and motivation,” said Ricky Jones, chair of the Pan-African Studies department and creator of Project Progress. “All the events are designed to be both student and community-friendly and accessible. We have some pretty exciting speakers and initiatives. We can’t force people to come out, but those who do are always glad they did.”

Plenty of events are still coming up this year, with the next being the Pan-African Studies Spring Lecture is Feb. 5 in Chao Auditorium.

“It’s gonna be a good time,” said James.


Video by Brelin Tilford.

About Olivia Krauth

Copy Editor at The Louisville Cardinal.

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