In a recent address to the college community, the president of Amherst College, Biddy Martin, wrote that anti-Black racism “has had a distinctive, very long, and deep-seated position and function in the economic, social, political, and moral history of the country.” As the college launches an ambitious Anti-Racism Initiative to address these concerns, the Center for Humanistic Inquiry invites CHI Fellows to engage in a range of scholarship addressing the theme of anti-Black racism in the United States.
“Black: Here and Now” invites inquiry into myriad aspects of the experiences of Blacks in the U.S.: their enslavement in support of U. S. economic interests; the Civil War and its aftermath; the strategies to reconcile the legacy of slavery with the lofty aspirations toward freedom articulated in the country’s guiding documents—abolitionist movements, reparations, pan-Africanism; the constellation of political ideologies that framed the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s; the evolution of affirmative action; and the contemporary efflorescence of political mobilization regarding police brutality, Black Lives Matter, and defund-the-police initiatives.
We also examine the place of race broadly in the imagination of politics and law, social science and natural science, and art and expression. How is race implicated in histories of imperialism and colonization writ large and in systems of slavery and genocide around the world? What have been its connections to systems of classification and category through history, and what are they today in an age when the human genome has been mapped?