Join Ian Smith (Lafayette College) and Michael Witmore (Folger Shakespeare Library) for a discussion of "This is not who we are?" This virtual event is part of a series of Critical Race Conversations hosted by the Folger Institute.
America lives with both a history of racial oppression and incidents of racial violence. When that violence breaks out into public view, we hear the phrase, “This is not who we are.” In this session, participants explore ways in which this widely repeated statement is also a pressing question. Do continuing incidents of racial hostility and violence really contradict what we see in the broader systems that organize contemporary life, in particular those of the academy? How immune to this question are academic professional organizations, conferences, research institutions, and of course, attitudes toward scholarship? A year after our first virtual Shakespeare’s Birthday conversation, Ian Smith returns in conversation, this time with Michael Witmore, to examine how this question highlights the tension between the optimism usually associated with the phrase and the denials that are at the core of our nation’s grappling with race.