“However much we are affected by the things of the world, however deeply they
may stir and stimulate us, they become human for us only when we can discuss
them with our fellows. Whatever cannot become the object of discourse -
the truly sublime, the truly horrible or the uncanny - may find human voice
through which to sound into the world, but it is not exactly human.
We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by
speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human.”

― Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times

The Fromm Institute invites you to conversations of ideas, views and experiences on the topic of Racism in the United States. Addressing a different aspect of Racism each week, join Fromm Institute Professor Mara Kolesas in a conversation with guest speakers followed by a question and answer period with attendees. Each conversatory is designed to build on the others, however attendance at prior conversatories is not required. All events are free and open to the public, but attendance is limited. All of the "Conversatory on Racism" Lectures can be viewed on the Frommcast. CLICK HERE.

About the Moderator

Mara Kolesas

Mara Kolesas is a political theorist whose interests extend from the conceptualization of citizenship, democracy, and human plurality to issues of political subjectivity, social justice, education, and the thought of Hannah Arendt. She received her doctorate from the New School of Social Research in New York, and has taught in Argentina, Peru, the US, and Lebanon. Committed to bringing academic insights to practical uses and social endeavors, she has worked as a strategist, institutional analyst, DEI practitioner, and consultant for organizations such as the University of California and the United Nations.


5/28 - Michelle Kuo - "A Memoir of Education, Race, Justice: What Social transformation is Necessary to Change a Life"

Michelle KuoMichelle Kuo is a writer, attorney, and professor. She is the author of Reading with Patrick, a memoir of mentoring and tutoring a former student in a rural Arkansas county jail. It was a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Michelle has worked to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants, assist asylum seekers, and defend incarcerated people. She has taught in prisons in the United States, France, and Taiwan. Michelle is interested in literacy, racial and socioeconomic equality, and abolitionist approaches towards prison and detention. She has published in The New York Review of Books, the New York Times, Public Books, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Point and other outlets; recently, she and her husband Albert Wu started "A Broad and Ample Road," a weekly newsletter on culture and politics. Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the American University of Paris, where she works closely with college students on issues of social justice.


5/21 - Karen Umemoto - "Perpetual Foreigner - Anti-Asian Hate and What We Can Do About It"

Karen UmemotoKaren Umemoto is the Helen and Morgan Chu Endowed Director's Chair of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. She received her Master's degree in Asian American Studies from UCLA and her Ph.D. in Urban Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She worked as a professor at the University of Hawaii for 22 years before returning to her alma mater with a joint position in Asian American Studies and Urban Planning. Her research centers on issues of democracy and social justice in multicultural societies with a focus on US cities. She also examines and pursues planning processes that include a diverse array of voices, acknowledges different ways of knowing, and allows for meaningful deliberations. She is equally concerned about the structural, procedural and relational obstacles to attaining a just and democratic society. Her research and practice thus takes a broad view of planning in the context of social inclusion, participatory democracy and political transformation. Watch the Conversation


5/14 - Koritha Mitchell - "African American Women, Achievement and Citizenship"

Koritha MitchellKoritha Mitchell is an award-winning author, cultural critic, and professional development expert. Her first book, Living with Lynching, won awards from the American Theatre and Drama Society and from the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. Her second monograph, From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture, appeared in August 2020 and was named a Best Book of 2020 by Ms. Magazine. She is also editor of the Broadview Edition of Frances E.W. Harper’s 1892 novel Iola Leroy, and her scholarly articles include “James Baldwin, Performance Theorist, Sings the Blues for Mister Charlie,” published by American Quarterly, and “Love in Action,” which appeared in Callaloo and draws parallels between lynching and violence against LGBTQ communities. Mitchell has been invited to offer guidance to scholars at every stage of their careers by various types of institutions, including the Ford Foundation, the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), the New Jersey Department of Education, Vanderbilt University, Michigan State University, the College of Wooster, and Princeton University. In addition to serving as external reviewer for tenure dossiers, she has chaired committees to select the winners of fellowships, essay awards, and book awards. In 2014, Mitchell lectured at the Library of Congress, and in 2018, she was named Undergraduate Professor of the Year by Ohio State University’s English Undergraduate Organization. On Twitter, she’s @ProfKori.

4/28/21 - Jonathan Simon - "Crime and Criminal Justice"

Jonathan SimonJonathan Simon joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 2003 as part of the J.D., JSP, and Legal Studies programs. He teaches in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, criminology, legal studies and the sociology of law.  

Simon’s scholarship concerns the role of crime and criminal justice in governing contemporary societies, risk and the law, and the history of the interdisciplinary study of law. His published works include over seventy articles and book chapters, and three single authored monographs, including: Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass (University of Chicago 1993, winner of the American Sociological Association’s sociology of law book prize, 1994), Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (Oxford University Press 2007, winner of the American Society of Criminology, Hindelang Award 2010) and Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America (New Press 2014). Simon has served as the co-editor-in-chief of the journal, Punishment and Society, and the co-editor of the Sage Handbook of Punishment & Society (along with Richard Sparks). He is a member of the Law & Society Association and the American Society of Criminology. Simon’s scholarship has been recognized internationally with appointment as a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at the University of Edinburgh (2010-11), a Fellow of the Israeli Institute for Advanced Studies (2016), and a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2018). In 2016 Simon was recognized for his scholarship on the human rights of prisoners with the Docteur honoris causa de la Faculté et de l’Institut, Faculté de Droit et Criminologie, Université Catholique de Louvain. Watch the Conversation

4/21 - Maha Elegenaidi - "Countering Islamaphobia"

Maha ElgenaidiMaha Elgenaidi is the founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Islamic Networks Group (www.ing.org), a peace-building organization providing face-to-face education and engagement opportunities that foster understanding of Muslims and other misunderstood groups to promote harmony among all people. Maha received an M.A. in religious studies from Stanford University and B.A in political science and economics from the American University in Cairo. She has taught classes on Islam in the modern world at Santa Clara University and the University of California at Santa Cruz, and has been recognized with numerous awards, including the “Civil Rights Leadership Award” from the California Association of Human Relations Organizations, the “Citizen of the Year Award” from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and the "Dorothy Irene Height Community Award" from the NAACP-Silicon Valley. She’s currently serving on the Council of Advisors for the Freedom Forum that helps shape American views on the First Amendment; the County of Santa Clara's Hate Crimes Task Force; and, the Ethnic Studies Committee of the Alum Rock USD in San Jose.

3/21 - Cristina Mora - "Making Hispanics"

Christina MoraCristina Mora is Associate Professor of Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies and the Co-Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. She completed her B.A. in Sociology at Cal in 2003 and earned her PhD in Sociology from Princeton University in 2009. Her research focuses mainly on questions of census racial classification, immigration, and racial politics in the United States and Europe. Her book, Making Hispanics, was published by the University of Chicago Press and provides the first historical account of the rise of the “Hispanic/Latino” panethnic category in the United States. This work has received several awards and wide recognition, and has also been the subject of numerous national media segments. In April of 2020, Professor Mora helped to oversee the largest survey on Covid-19 and racial disparities in California. She is currently writing a book on immigration attitudes and racial politics California. 


2/19/21 - Andrés Reséndez - "The Other Slavery"

Andrés ReséndezAndrés Reséndez is a professor of history and author. His specialties are early European exploration and colonization of the Americas, the U.S Mexico border region, and the early history of the Pacific Ocean.  His latest book, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and winner of the 2017 Bancroft Prize from Columbia University. He teaches courses on food and history, Latin America, and Mexico. His next book, Conquering the Pacific: An Unknown Mariner and the Final Great Voyage of the Age of Discovery, is about the tumultuous expedition that first went from America to Asia and back, thus transforming the Pacific Ocean into a vital space of contact and exchange in 1565. It is forthcoming in September 2021. Watch the Conversation

1/22/21 - Richard Thompson Ford - "Race Card, Rights Gone Wrong, and Dress Codes"

Richard FordRichard Thompson Ford is the George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He has practiced law with the firm of Morrison & Foerster, served as a Commissioner of the San Francisco Housing Authority and worked as a policy consultant for the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the City and County of San Francisco, California and the County of San Mateo, California. He writes for both scholarly and popular audiences in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, Esquire.com and Slate, where has been a regular contributor on legal affairs, as well in the Harvard Law Review, the Stanford Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. He has written several books, including The Race Card: how bluffing about bias makes race relations worse which The New York Times Sunday Book Review selected as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2008 and Rights Gone Wrong: how law corrupts the struggle for equality, which The New York Times selected as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2011. In 2012 ON BEING A BLACK LAWYER selected him as one of the 100 Most Influential Black Lawyers.  His latest book, Dress Codes: how the laws of fashion made history, will be published in February 2021. Watch the Conversation.


12/16/20 – Prudence Carter - "Racial Inequality and Education"

Prudence CarterPrudence L. Carter is the E.H. and Mary E. Pardee Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Berkeley. Dean Carter’s expertise ranges from issues of youth identity and race, class, and gender, urban poverty, social and cultural inequality, the sociology of education and mixed research methods. Specifically, she examines academic and mobility differences shaped by the effects of race, ethnicity, class, and gender. Dean Carter earned a Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University. Before being named Dean at Berkeley, she was the Jacks Family Professor of Education and Professor of Sociology (by courtesy) at Stanford University. Dean Carter is an elected a member of the National Academy of Education; the Sociological Research Association; and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the William T. Grant Foundation; and SOAR for Youth. Watch the Conversation.


12/7/20 - Wadie Said - "The American Police State"

Wadie SaidWadie Said is a graduate of Princeton University and the Columbia University School of Law, where he served as an articles editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina, he was a visiting professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an assistant federal public defender in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Florida, where he represented one of the defendants in U.S. v. Al-Arian, a complex terrorism conspiracy case. Upon graduation from law school, he served as law clerk to Chief Judge Charles P. Sifton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and as a litigation associate in the New York office of Debevoise and Plimpton, where he helped coordinate the firm's pro bono political asylum program. Professor Said’s scholarship analyzes the challenges inherent in terrorism and national security prosecutions, covering such topics as coercive interrogation, the use of informants, law enforcement discretion and extraterritorial jurisdiction, sentencing, expert evidence, and the ban on providing material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations. His book, Crimes of Terror: The Legal and Political Implications of Federal Terrorism Prosecutions, a comprehensive legal analysis of the criminal terrorist prosecution in the United States, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015, with the paperback edition released in early 2018. He teaches courses in criminal law, criminal procedure, immigration law, and seminars on international human rights law and counterterrorism. Professor Said is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and serves on the Board of Editors of Amerasia Journal, as well as the Executive Committee of the AALS Section on National Security Law. Watch the Conversation.


11/30/20 - John Powell - "Othering and Economic Racial Inequality"

John PowellJohn a. Powell is Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute and Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously the Executive Director at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, and prior to that, the founder and director of the Institute for Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. John formerly served as the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He is a co-founder of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the boards of several national and international organizations. john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University. His latest book is Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.  Watch the Conversation.


11/17/20 - Ira Katznelson - "When Affirmative Action Was White"

Iran KatznelsonIra Katznelson is Columbia University’s Interim Provost, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, and Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects. His 2013 Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time was awarded the Bancroft Prize in History and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award in Political Science. Other books include Southern Nation: Congress and White Supremacy After Reconstruction (2018; co-authored with David Bateman and John Lapinski), and Liberal Beginnings: A Republic for the Moderns (2008; co-authored with Andreas Kalyvas). Professor Katznelson, a fellow British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. and the American Philosophical Society, is a former president both of the American Political Science Association and the Social Science Research Council. He earned his BA at Columbia College and his PhD in History at the University of Cambridge, where he served in 2017-18 as Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions. Prior to his arrival at Columbia in 1994, where he also had been an assistant and associate professor, he had taught at the University of Chicago, where he served as chair of the Department of Political Science, and the New School for Social Research, where he was Dean of the Graduate Faculty. Watch the Conversation.


9/8/20 - Martin Carcieri – “The Constitution and Race”

Martin CarcieriMartin D Carcieri has taught courses in Constitutional Law and Political Theory as a Professor of Political Science, San Francisco State University. He holds a J.D. from UC Hastings and a Ph.D. in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara. He has earned four teaching awards and has published twenty‐five journal articles and book chapters. His work has appeared in top journals in four disciplines, and has been cited to the U.S. Supreme Court in five landmark cases in the 21st century. His most recent book is Applying Rawls in the 21st Century: Race, Gender, the Drug War, and the Right to Die. Watch the Conversation.


9/2/20  - Franita Tolson – “Is there a Constitutional Right to Vote? Mechanisms of Voter Suppression”

FranitaFranita Tolson is Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Her scholarship and teaching focus on the areas of election law, constitutional law, legal history and employment discrimination. She has written on a wide range of topics including partisan gerrymandering, the Elections Clause, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Her research has appeared in leading law reviews, and she has written or appeared as a commentator for various mass media outlets including The New York Times, Reuters, and Bloomberg Law. Her forthcoming book, Rethinking the Constitutional Structure of Political Rights: The Evolution of Federal Voting Rights Enforcement from the Founding to the Dawn of the Progressive Era, will be published in 2021 by Cambridge University Press. Watch the Conversation.


8/24/20 - Rodolfo Mendoza Denton, “Racism, Stigma and Intergroup Relationships”

RodolfoRodolfo Mendoza-Denton is professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Childhood experiences living in Mexico, the U.S., Ivory Coast, and Thailand cemented an early interest in cultural differences and intergroup relations. He received his BA from Yale University and his PhD from Columbia University. Mendoza-Denton’s professional work covers stereotyping and prejudice from the perspective of both target and perceiver, intergroup relations, as well as how these processes influence educational outcomes. He received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2018, the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in 2015, and recently completed a five-year term as Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Social Sciences. Watch the Conversation.


8/18/20 - Daria Roithmayr - Reproducing Racism”

Daria RoithmayrDaria Roithmayr is Richard L. and Antoinette S. Kirtland Professor of Law at USC Gould School of Law. She teaches and writes about persistent structural racism in labor, housing, political participation, wealth and education. Her book Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage (NYU 2014), explores the self-reinforcing dynamics of persistent racial inequality. Her work is heavily interdisciplinary, drawing from economics, sociology, political theory, history and complex systems theory. She is currently at work on a new book, Racism Pays, which explores the way that recent innovations in the digital economy have relied on racial exploitation to get off the ground. Please register here. You will receive a reminder with the Zoom link about one hour before start time. Watch the Conversation


“However much we are affected by the things of the world, however deeply they may stir and stimulate us, they become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. Whatever cannot become the object of discourse - the truly sublime, the truly horrible or the uncanny - may find human voice through which to sound into the world, but it is not exactly human. We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human.”

― Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times