Kwame Anthony Appiah: “What Is Racism? One Story”

November 4, 2021

Philosopher, cultural theorist and writer Kwame Anthony Appiah visited campus as part of the Presidential Scholars Program at Amherst College. During his three-day residency, Appiah met with students, faculty and staff, and presented two lectures, including "What Is Racism? One Story."

(Please note: There were technical difficulties with the audio for the first 13 minutes of this video.)

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s Schedule

Thursday, October 28

Friday, October 29

  • 10:00 a.m. Meeting with CHI Fellows
  • 11:00 a.m. Meeting with the Philosophy Department faculty
  • 12:00 p.m. Lunch with Philosophy Department 

Saturday, October 30

  • 11:00 a.m. Office Hours (Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Frost LibrarySign up for office hours
  • 1:00 p.m.  Meeting with Amherst College Black Student Union
  • 4:00 p.m. Keynote address, “What Is Racism? One Story,” with introductions by President Biddy Martin (Lipton Lecture Hall)

Kwame Anthony Appiah
Kwame Anthony Appiah

October 28 - 31, 2021

How do our identities shape what we value—in ourselves, and others? How does what we legislate and create reflect our ideals as a society? A renowned ethicist and professor of philosophy and law at NYU, Kwame Anthony Appiah is known for his innovative work in the field of cultural differences and political philosophy. Raised in Ghana and educated at the University of Cambridge, Kwame has witnessed a broad spectrum of the social, economic, and political forces that shape ethics in this age of international exchange. What do we tell ourselves about who we are—and who others are? How can we shed harmful patterns of identity politics and groupthink, to access growth that’s good for everyone?

His new and acclaimed book, The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity, explores the nature and history of our identities (including gender, religion, race, and nationality) and how each defines us. Much like in his weekly column for The New York Times Magazine, “The Ethicist,” Kwame’s talks are brilliant and informed, and offer much-needed guidance on how to bridge political divides. He takes an in-depth approach to exploring our identities and what they mean in a contemporary context: and how we can challenge our inherited assumptions and adapt to changing values through progressive, open dialogue.

Anthony Kwame Appiah - The Lies That Bind- Rethinking Identity: Creed, Country, Color, Class, Culture
Once identities exist, people tend to form a picture of a typical member of the group. Stereotypes develop. They may have more or less foundation in reality, but they are almost always critically wrong about something.”

The Presidential Scholars Program at Amherst College: Kwame Anthony Appiah

October 22, 2021

Sophie Wolmer ’23 chats with writer and philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah ahead of his visit to Amherst College as a Presidential Scholar. In addition to meeting with students and faculty, Appiah delivered a keynote address on October 30.