In the winter of 1988, during my freshman year at Wittenberg University, I took Professor Warren Copeland’s Introduction to Ethics: Racism course. This course and its sister, Advanced Ethics: Racism, which I took the following winter, were two of the most transformative courses of my liberal arts education.

What struck me then and has remained with me since is the idea that as overt structures of racism become increasingly unacceptable, as explicitly racist systems like slavery and segregation are dismantled, the problem of institutional racism becomes increasingly more difficult to address, because it seeps under the surface of our shared civic and cultural lives.

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Butterflies Pinned

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  • Vincent Colapietro says:

    The way in which reflection and recollection are woven together in this piece, for the sake of illuminating the historical present in its irreducible complexity, is quite arresting. Also, you have not only quoted from some of my favorite essays by one of my favorite essayists; you have quoted some of my favorite passages (not least of all the characterization of the U.S. as a dangerously adolescent country). In sum: Excellent Work. Many thanks for this recollection. The illumination of the present requires the critical deployment of unblinking memory. Nothing less is on display here.

  • cplong says:

    Vincent Colapietro Thanks, Vinnie, I appreciate your comment here. You were the person who pointed me to Baldwin as a way to think through some of the themes that emerged in the 2008 Obama campaign. The work you and our colleagues in African American Studies here at Penn State are doing to provide educational opportunities to reflect upon the issues raised by the events in Ferguson and on Staten Island are critical to our attempts as a nation to mature.

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