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Identity politics: the new racialism on campus? - Rutgers University

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Trayes Hall

Douglass Student Center, Douglass Campus

100 George Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1412

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The debate about racial equality is alive again on college campuses. But is it being mired in identity politics and competitive claims of victimhood?

Tequila-themed parties or clumsy questions about where a student ‘is from’ have been recast as subtle forms of racism, as ‘cultural appropriation’ or ‘microaggressions’. And the idea that one’s identity gives one a special insight into certain issues is common.

Those who dissent from an established view, whether they are from a minority community or not, are often shouted down. Discussions about police brutality towards African-Americans are particularly tense -- one Wesleyan student was protested for writing a critical op-ed about Black Lives Matter. Similarly, criticism of Islam is often labelled Islamophobia, as a bigotry against Muslims rather than a rejection or dislike of the religion.

By deciding who can speak on a topic and who cannot, by urging students of different backgrounds to tiptoe around one another, are student activists re-racialising campus life? Are students today really interested in fighting for equality, or merely competing for victim status?

SPEAKERS:

Kmele Foster is founder and lead producer at Freethink Media. He is also a regular contributor to various political TV shows, and co-hosts a weekly podcast, The Fifth Column. @kmele

Sarah Haider is a writer, speaker, activist and co-founder of Ex-Muslims of North America. @SarahTheHaider

Mark Lilla, professor of the humanities at Columbia University, is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and the international press. His article “After Identity Liberalism” was the most read political opinion piece in the New York Times in 2016. His new book is The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.

Bryan Stascavage is a writer, free-speech advocate and student at Wesleyan University. In 2015, he wrote an article for the Wesleyan Argus that criticized the tactics of Black Lives Matter, sparking protests and calls to defund the paper. @bstas10

This is a FREE panel and Q&A, as part of the spiked US Unsafe Space tour.

Find out more information about our Unsafe Space tour here.

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Trayes Hall

Douglass Student Center, Douglass Campus

100 George Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1412

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