April 15, 2011
by Bradley Center
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Race and Racism in America:
Are We Now a Color Blind Society?
A year ago, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced its "America Healing” initiative, a five-year, $75 million program of grants focusing “on bringing healing to divided communities and bridging racial gaps in the areas of education, health, juvenile justice, economic success, the media, and other areas.”
Writing in NCRP’s Responsive Philanthropy, Dr. Gail Christopher, Kellogg’s vice president for program strategy, noted that the initiative reflects a belief that “our racialized social and opportunity structures have generated and continue to generate two consistent outcomes: privilege for some, and obstacles, pain and suffering for others.” Acknowledging this fact, however painful, is the “beginning of the healing process.” “In mandating that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation become an effective anti-racist organization,” she wrote, “the foundation’s board of trustees acknowledged both the implicit benefits of white privilege and the foundation’s obligation to be responsive to the needs produced by centuries of structural racism.”
Kellogg’s announcement was viewed skeptically by Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Research Professor of History at Harvard University. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, he asked “What evidence convinced Kellogg that racism is such a clear-and-present danger to the children of America today? Foundation officials point to racial and ethnic disparities. . . . But is it self-evident that these economic and educational differences are simply or even largely ‘the consequences of racism?’”
Hudson Institute's Bradley Center held a discussion of the “America Healing” initiative and its intellectual underpinnings, featuring Sterling Speirn, President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Kellogg Vice President Dr. Gail Christopher; Harvard Professor Stephan Thernstrom; and Ron Christie, political strategist and author of Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur. Bradley Center Director William Schambra moderated the discussion.
Program and Panel
Registration, lunch buffet
Welcome by Hudson Institute Senior Fellow William Schambra
Ron Christie, CEO of Christie Strategies and author
Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Sterling Speirn, President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Research Professor of History at Harvard University
Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal aims to explore the usually unexamined intellectual assumptions underlying the grantmaking practices of America’s foundations and provide practical advice and guidance to grantmakers who seek to support smaller, grassroots institutions in the name of civic renewal.
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