A Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race RelationsThe topic of a major annual talk could not have been more opportunely selected to engage audiences and communities. Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses” is part of the issue to be addressed by a UCLA professor when he delivers ASU’s A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

The 20th annual lecture named for Dr. Smith will be delivered by Dr. Walter R. Allen, the Allan Murray Cartter Chair in Higher Education and Distinguished Professor of Education and Sociology at UCLA.

His entire title is worth remembering: “Black Lives Matter: Hyper-Surveillance and Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses.”

The free public presentation will be on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 7:00 pm, at the ASU Memorial Union, Memorial Ballroom.

Seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis, and doors will open at 6:30 pm.

Given the university’s own high-profile relationship with the intersection of Black lives and policing (and which has made news nationwide), I’m surprised the school has not touted this speech from the rooftops. There may be no local audience more primed to hear this dialogue than the one in Tempe, Arizona, right now.

Dr. Walter R. Allen, UCLA

Dr. Walter R. Allen, UCLA

On the other hand, the school probably wishes the whole topic would just go away. A high-profile talk by an esteemed scholar on this very issue may be a bit of salt in the recent wounds.

In any case, below I have included more background on the event. If you plan to attend and would like to provide some photos and perhaps a guest blog post, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Background:

Dr. Walter R. Allen, distinguished professor of education and sociology at UCLA, will discuss the policing of African-American men on college campuses at the 20th annual A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

Allen’s lecture, “Black Lives Matter: Hyper-Surveillance and Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses,” will touch on the social science of incidents involving police security and black men. Allen said he chose this topic because of national news like Ferguson, Mo., even if it didn’t happen on a college campus.

Allen earned his doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Chicago in sociology and his bachelor’s degree in sociology at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Allen has done extensive research on higher education, race and ethnicity, family patterns, social inequality and the African diaspora.

Keep reading here.

Past A. Wade Smith keynotes have included Lani Guinier and Kimberlé Crenshaw, among many others.

 

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw

Last Thursday was the annual A. Wade Smith Lecture on Race Relations at Arizona State University. As I indicated before, it was delivered by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University. The co-founder of the African American Policy Forum spoke before an appreciative audience in the Memorial Union.

Her lecture title and subject were “Educating All Our Children: A Constitutional Perspective.”

Crenshaw opened by describing how a Black man’s election as U.S. President means that we as a nation occupy an “important moment in the long struggle for equality in education.” But although that event cheered her, she had to conclude that as she assessed the body politic, “It’s ill.” She told the students and other audience members to “combat the idea that all is well.”

She also lent her considerable rhetorical powers to an attack on the notion that the United States now occupies a “post-racial sphere.” But she did admit that there was one recurring element of the post-racial ethos:

“Ignoring race: Now that’s post-racial. Race consciousness is out. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to segregate or to integrate,” the U.S. Supreme Court tells us. “They are both off the table.”

“How can we be ‘over race’?” she asked.

There was ample legal discussion for the lawyers in the room. She cited case after case that demonstrated the trend that educational equity arguments have moved over a generation. As she said, voicing a prevailing view, “All this talk about race and racism is counterproductive, and just makes people feel bad.”

Nat Hentoff

Finally, Crenshaw said, we have moved far past the urging of Justice Blackmun in Bakke that “You have to focus on race to get beyond race.” Instead, in a post-racial world, “Bankruptcy has been declared: The debt is wiped clean, and there is no social justice capital left to pay.”

Her position was most clear when she contrasted Chief Justice Roberts’ statement (“The way to stop discrimination based on race is to stop discrimination based on race”) with her analogy: The way to stop the problem of asbestos is to stop talking about asbestos, or seeking ways to mediate it.

Refuse the “narcotic of post-racialism,” she urged the audience.

“The language of gradualism has morphed into the language of arrival,” but those who most need help have not arrived.

Days after listening to Professor Crenshaw, I came across an article by Nat Hentoff in The Village Voice. In “Segregation 2010: Bloomberg’s Schools,” he examines where the New York City schools are in relation to Brown v. Board of Education, circa 1954. As you might guess by his title, he argues they’re not very advanced.

The picture he and Crenshaw paint is not a rosy one. It appears there is still much for lawyers to do in that realm.

Hentoff’s story is here.

The afternoon is speeding away from me faster than common sense from Maricopa County government, and I’ve managed to put only a small dent in today’s to-do list. I can see I’ll have to repurpose that list into a “Friday to-do list.”

It’s even shorter because I leave soon to head east to ASU in Tempe, where an annual lecture will be held this evening.

The A. Wade Smith Lecture on Race Relations is always a great listen. The stellar selection committee (on which my wife sits! Disclosure alert!) always finds compelling people with compelling stories. And this year, they found someone who will resonate with the legal community.

Kimberlé Crenshaw is a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University (good gigs if you can get them). She also co-founded the African American Policy Forum. Among other things, she will likely be speaking tonight on civil rights; Black feminist theory; and race, racism, and the law.

Her lecture title is “Educating All Our Children: A Constitutional Perspective.”

I’m sure a good time will be had by all – and I’ll report back on the evening in an upcoming post.

More information is here.

In the meantime, here is some information on this great annual lecture:

The A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations, presented by ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is held to celebrate and honor the work Smith accomplished during his lifetime. A former professor and chair of sociology at ASU, Smith spent much of his life in pursuit of the advancement of race relations on campus and within his community. The lecture was established after his death in 1994 through funding from his family and friends in their hopes to continue Smith’s work of improving race relations in Arizona.