Frederick Douglass Initiative: “What Is ‘Racial Equality’?”
On February 12, 2021, the Frederick Douglass Initiative at Providence College, a new JMC partner program, will be hosting Glenn Loury for a lecture on racial equality and affirmative action:
I argue, in the context of the ongoing debate about race-based affirmative action, that
“equality of representation” can sometimes be inconsistent with “equality of respect.”
Specifically, permanent reliance on racially preferential treatment to achieve equal racial
representation can, over the longer run, work against achieving “genuine” racial equality — by
which I mean, equality of dignity, honor, standing and respect — for Black Americans. To the
contrary, permanently relying on racial preference when selecting elites invites patronization,
condescension, contempt, shame, dishonesty and the general erosion of firm standards of
judgment in those selective venues where the competition for status is most keen. I conclude that when rationing access to elite venues, racial affirmative action should try to avoid the use of preferential judgements and focus, instead, on developing the capacity of those in the
underrepresented groups to meet extant standards.
Friday, February 12, 2021 • 3:00 PM EST
A virtual lecture
Glenn Loury is Merton P. Stoltz Professor of Economics at Brown University. He holds a BA in Mathematics (Northwestern) and a PhD in Economics (M.I.T). As an economic theorist he has published widely and lectured throughout the world on his research. He is also among America’s leading critics writing on racial inequality. He has been elected as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economics Association, as a Member of the American Philosophical Society and of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, and as a Fellow of the Econometric Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The ability to confront opposing opinions, to reason critically, and to both discern and employ rhetorical tactics of persuasion is essential to a healthy democracy—particularly within a pluralistic society. As such, a properly democratic civic education ought to instill in students such habits of rational disputation.
In opposition to many current trends, the Frederick Douglass Initiative at Providence College promotes the practice of rational disputation in students today. This interdisciplinary program, organized as an initiative of the Humanities Program at Providence College, offers a series of workshops culminating in an annual Essay & Public Speaking contest to be held in Spring 2021. The program promote students’ active participation in public persuasion and dissent while also sparking a broader discussion about the place of free exchange of opinion in the academy and in a liberal democracy.
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