Anne Bergman at Claremont McKenna College:

A dialogue to help foster an inclusive and informed community at Claremont McKenna College took place at the Athenaeum with a distinguished roster of panelists and moderated by Professor Michael Fortner.


Focused on “Systemic Racism: Its Uses, Limits and Critiques,” the Oct. 26 discussion was co-sponsored by the Dreier Roundtable at CMC, whose mission is to inspire public service, and by the Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America.


Joining the conversation were Jared Clemons, an assistant professor of political science at Temple University who has an extensive research background spanning political economy, race and the politics of education; CMC Professor Briana Toole, who teaches philosophy and focuses her research on social identity and knowledge, political resistance and disagreement, and power and ideology; and John Wood, Jr., who is a former nominee for Congress, an opinion columnist for USA Today, and the national ambassador for Braver Angels, a grassroots, cross-partisan organization dedicated to political depolarization.


Fortner is the Pamela B. Gann Associate Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at CMC, director of the Dreier Roundtable, and author of Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment.


He introduced the discussion by noting that while the concept of systemic or structural racism has been embraced by many as a way of analyzing the effects of racial inequality, there are others who span the political spectrum, and have critiqued the approach as “fundamentally flawed if it’s divorced from an understanding of the political economy of this country.”