FAIR News: Carrying Martin Luther King Jr.'s Message Into Dark Times
Dear Friends of FAIR,
Forty years ago today, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law, designating the third Monday in January a federal holiday in honor of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I was only in high school at the time, living in a country that in many ways looked much different from the one we live in now. I attended a prep school that was desegregated, but the shadow of systemic discrimination still hung heavy around me. Only a couple of years earlier, I’d been in the car with my father, a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, when a police officer pulled up beside us—in the driveway of our own home. Ours was the only Black family in our middle-class neighborhood in Hacienda Heights, California.
My father stepped calmly from behind the wheel of our shiny new 1981 Plymouth Horizon and smiled as he casually flipped through his wallet in search of his ID. I’ll never forget the look on the white officer’s face when my father’s fingers landed on the heavy, blue-and-gold, 6-pointed Sheriff’s badge sandwiched between his drivers license and social security card. The officer blushed, apologized profusely, and drove away. He never bothered to mention why he had followed us into our driveway.
My father would later tell me it wasn’t the first time he’d been pulled over by a cop for no reason, and he doubted it would be the last. As it turned out, it would be the last time. Innocent Black men would continue to be harassed, abused, and beaten for years, but the experience would become less common over time. Slowly. In fact, so gradually that if you weren’t paying close attention, you might not even notice. But as I reflect upon that day winter day in 1981, I can’t forget that there was once a time when even men like my father, a member of law enforcement, could not be assured of an uneventful commute home from work.
We live in a different America now, one that is considerably safer for people who look like me than it was forty years ago. We live in a country that’s allowed three Black people to serve on its highest court, a black woman to become Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, and a Black man to serve as its Commander in Chief twice. We live in an America in which accusations of racism can end careers and destroy reputations. In many ways, King’s dream of an America where we are judged not based on the color of our skin, but rather by the content of our character, is slowly manifesting.
Or so it seemed.
In the wake of the October 7 massacre in Israel, something unexpected and ugly has emerged: all around the world, antisemitism is surging. In New York City, a city that boasts the largest Jewish population in the U.S., there has been a 164% increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes since the attacks. Even more shocking, the college campuses that slavishly embrace diversity and inclusion have become hotbeds of bigotry. The most recent incident at Cornell University involved a 21-year-old Asian-American engineering student who was arrested for making a string of online posts threatening to stab and rape Jewish students.
The racism that sent millions of Americans pouring into the streets to protect Black lives has left many silent and passive about threats to other lives. Hatred that would never be tolerated against Black people is somehow accepted, and even rationalized, when committed against Jewish people. In these strangely regressive times, we are again reminded that only some lives matter.
Forty years ago, we began honoring a man who embodied the essence of FAIR’s pro-human message. King taught us that dignity is not selective and that humanity can never be a matter of preference. As we face yet another crisis that threatens to divide us, we would do well to keep this in mind.
Executive Director, Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism
The Great Racism in STEM Debate at MIT
Join the MIT Free Speech Alliance (MFSA) and the Sloan School Chapter of the Adam Smith Society TODAY November 2nd at MIT’s Wong Auditorium (E51-115) at 8pm ET for a debate about systemic racism in STEM. Cosponsored by FAIR, this event is designed to model what a vigorous but civil debate on a contentious issue looks like. What we and all the cosponsors of this debate have in common is that we insist that controversial issues be openly and civilly discussed rather than having one side or the other cancelled or shouted down.
The debate proposition is “Resolved that STEM is systemically racist.” Nadine Strossen, past president of the ACLU has agreed to reprise her role as moderator. The Affirmative team will consist of Dr. Chad Womack and Dr. Jaret Riddick. The Negative team will consist of Dr. Luana Maroja and Dr. Erec Smith.
Genspect Presents: The Bigger Picture, a Healthy Approach to Sex and Gender
Save the date! November 4th and 5th, join friend of FAIR, Genspect, for a conference in Denver, Colorado on gender care and the thought leaders creating better solutions. The tickets go on sale exclusively to friends of Genspect today! Friends of Genspect also receive a 25% discount off all events.
GEOG-BSOS Seminar: Dr. Sheena Michele Mason, "Human Migration & DNA Analysis from The Raceless Antiracist"
Join the Department of Geographical Sciences on Monday, November 6th from 10am-12pm for a GEOG seminar special edition at STAMP and on Zoom. Assistant Professor Sheena Michele Mason from SUNY Oneonta will explore the intersection of human migration and DNA research, drawing from her upcoming book, "The Raceless Antiracist: Why Ending Race Is the Future of Antracism."
This seminar offers an exploration of ideas surrounding “race,” human migration, and language. Dr. Mason's commitment to questioning the status quo makes this event essential for anyone dedicated to fostering an inclusive antiracist society. Don't miss this opportunity to engage with scholarship. Join a vital conversation on dismantling the concept of “race” for a more inclusive future without racism.
UNCANCELED: Heterodox Academy to Host Virtual ‘Canceled’ Panel on Sex in Anthropology
Heterodox Academy (HxA), a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving institutions of higher education by advocating for principles of open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement, will host a virtual version of a conference panel that was vetted and approved by two major anthropology societies in July, then canceled last week. The five scheduled panelists, all female professors in socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology, will use the virtual event to build a broader audience for their scholarly arguments. Join HxA for this event on November 8th from 4-6pm ET.
How to Star-Man: Arguing from Compassion
Join Braver Angels on November 8th, 15th, and 29th from 5:30-7pm ET for an in-person seminar about star-manning! In this three-part course, you'll develop tools for being mindful and measured in difficult conversations, and learn the key strategy for a more constructive engagement with your political or ideological opponents: An explicit recognition of not only our opponent’s arguments but their humanity. The seminar will be led by Angel Eduardo, Senior Writer & Editor for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and Chair of FAIR's Board of Directors.
Dr. Richard Bosshardt and ACS Deplatforming
Join FAIR in Medicine and FAIR’s Executive Director, Monica Harris on November 9th at 7pm ET for a conversation with Dr. Richard Bosshardt, a plastic surgeon and FAIR in Medicine and DoNoHarm Fellow, who is standing up for viewpoint diversity in the American College of Surgeons. When he was silenced in an online platform for discussing a nuanced approach to healthcare disparities rather than adhering to a race essentialist explanation, Dr. Bosshardt pushed back through various advocacy channels, including legal help from FAIR. Join us to learn from his experience.
When Kids Say They’re Trans: A Guide for Thoughtful Parents
Join FAIR in Medicine, as well as special guest moderator Leslie Elliott, with Sasha Ayad, Lisa Marchiano, and Stella O’Malley on Thursday, December 7th from 5-6:30pm ET for a discussion of their new book When Kids Say They’re Trans: A Guide for Thoughtful Parents. Hear about their experiences as professionals working in the field and their specific advice for parents with gender-questioning children who do not believe that hasty medical intervention is the best path forward. Don’t miss this special conversation!
FAIR News Podcast
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