For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Camila Morsch, UCLA School of Law
Global Affirmative Action Praxis Project (GAAPP) Transnational Seminar:
Critical Race Theory and the Struggle for Equality in Brazil, India, and the United States
General public cordially invited on June 12th and 13th to participate in Transnational Seminar –
Contribute to in depth discussions and dialogue
UCLA: “Look at racial segregation like an onion . . . layer after layer to take off . . .,” describes Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, Executive Director of the African American Policy Forum, “rather than looking at it like an egg that once you crack it, racial problems are gone.” Professor Crenshaw opened Monday’s discussion on equal citizenship and the competing conceptions in the dominant narrative.
Pealing away at understanding the race problem in the U.S., Brazil, and India is into its third day and will be open to the public Friday and Saturday, June 12th and 13th at UCLA School of Law, Room 2448.
“Whoever has control of law has control of the trajectory of a social movement,” states Professor Crenshaw on how after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, laws were introduced to make boycotts illegal and compensate those in power for losses. These laws are a strategy by those in power to respond to a social movement’s use of boycotts against discrimination. According to Prof. Crenshaw, when social conditions are not the same between the races, “…there’s no equality. We’re not the same.” She questions, “What is equality? Is it to have what everyone else has?”
Historically, in the United States, the church became a tool for the anti-segregation movement. “Segregated church became an incubator to create a social movement,” states Prof. Crenshaw – providing the Black community a space to gather and discuss issues.
However, in India, Dalits, considered the lowest caste, are not even allowed to enter certain temples. Questions and comparisons to the caste system in India arose on the role of religion in keeping masses oppressed. Martin Macwan, seminar participant, who writes children’s stories, explains that for the Dalits an empowerment strategy is to “…demystify religion and expose how it is used to keep us back.” With over 100 television channels, many of which are religious, children are targeted with cartoons emphasizing and perpetuating the unequal social hierarchies of the caste system.
In Brazil, Black people in the Catholic church re-interpreted the Bible in the African traditions. These traditions were protected to some extent. Yet, the bible, like the constitution, are interpreted by the dominant white power structure to punish people who are against their laws. Brazilian participant, Daniel Texeira, from the Center for Work Relations and Inequalities, states that Black people who raise the race problem issue are told by White Brazilians, “You’re watching too much Spike Lee…,” and they refer to Black Brazilians as “our” Blacks as opposed to Black people in the United States who have a history of social movements.
The African American Policy Forum, a think tank housed by Columbia University and Vassar College, in partnership with the UCLA School of Law Critical Race Studies Program and the Navsarjan Trust of India, will be organizing the transnational seminar through their Global Affirmative Action Praxis Project (or “GAAPP”) initiative.
Attending delegates include Afro-Brazilians and Indian Dalits as junior and senior activists, students and scholars; in addition to top critical race theorists from the United States. Martin Macwan from Gujarat and Jurema Werneck from Rio de Janeiro, two prominent human rights activists, are moderating and instructing various panels and workshops.
Professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, professor at both Columbia and UCLA Law Schools and founder of the African American Policy Forum, is facilitating and commenting throughout the seminar. Other top participating theorists include Devon Carbado, Luke Harris, Cheryl Harris, Jerry Kang, Russell Robinson, and George Lipsitz.
The transnational conversation is built around a series of panel discussions focused on racial and caste inequality and their social, economic, and political consequences in Brazil, the U.S., and India. During the seminar, the participant delegates from Brazil, India, and the U.S. exchange ideas and create new possibilities for anti-discrimination and inclusion policies.