Festival Staff / March 6, 2017
Is living in a diverse world merely a pipe dream? Or is it attainable?
Four authors will talk about how societies deal with diversity and segregation. “A Conversation on Segregated Spaces” will cover the divides that exist and are perpetuated by law, language and culture.
You might come away with a bleak assessment of how far societies still have to go to overcome disparities in circles of wealth, race, ethnicity and justice. Or you might get a roadmap on how to move toward an accepting, integrated society.
These panelists will talk about their experiences, their research and the messages they hope to convey with their writings.
Reginald Dwayne Betts was an honor student hoping to go to college when a run-in with the law sent him to prison at age 16. Today he’s a law student and prison reform advocate, hoping to put the lost lives of young people back on track.
His 2015 collection of poems, Bastards of the Reagan Era, lays bare the hurt and destruction of black men’s lives in urban America.
“Taken as a whole,Bastards of the Reagan Era is an unrelenting visit into disturbing trends in American subcultures, from the concrete of the street to the steel bars of a prison cell,” says reviewer and poet Dan Schell of NewPages.
Jeff Chang tackles the turmoil that is today’s race relations in a collection of essays, We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation. It’s both enlightening in detailing serious issues behind Black Lives Matter and #OscarSoWhite and inspiring in his plea for ending racial bias and violence.
Kirkus Review writes: “With his galvanizing message, Chang reiterates that while there is much work to be done on the inequality front, the opportunity to ‘get it right’ has not passed us by.”
Chang is the executive director of the Institute for Diversity in Arts at Stanford University. Utne Reader calls him one of the “50 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World.”
Tyina Steptoe, a University of Arizona assistant professor of history, examines race relations in post-World War I Texas in her newest book, Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City. She shows how shared social space among Anglo residents, black Texans and migrant Creoles and Mexicans made it hard for Anglos to assign racial labels for the purposes of segregation.
“Tyina L. Steptoe explores in fine detail the making and unmaking of ‘this thing we call race,’” writes Kevin Mumford, professor of history at University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign.
Steptoe is currently studying how music performers challenged gender norms in the 1950s.
Racial cues can go beyond visible features, as Jennifer Roth-Gordon demonstrates in Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro. In conversations and interviews with residents at all economic strata, Roth-Gordon explains how physical bearing and the use of language establishes one’s place in racial and class circles as much as skin color, hair texture and facial features.
“This superb book is a complex and nuanced account of how race is produced, experienced and denied in Rio de Janeiro,” says Jane H. Hill, author of The Everyday Language of White Racism.
Roth-Gordon, a UA associate professor of anthropology, is continuing her examination of race in Brazil with a project that “investigates how predominantly light-skinned, upper-middle class and elite Brazilian families reproduce their privilege through care and attention to their bodies,” she says.
See this panel: Saturday, March 11 at 10amin the Social and Behavioral Sciences Tent. The speakers will be available for book signings afterward and books will be available for purchase.