Racial Equity

State of Race 2018 Year in Review

December 18, 2018  • Communications and Society Program

As 2018 comes to a close, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program invites you to join us as we celebrate and reflect over an exciting year marked by thoughtful, constructive discussions on a range of issues. The following “2018 Year In Review” series offers highlights from the various programs as well as insight into 2019 programming. For more information, please visit our homepage and/or follow us on Twitter or Facebook

The Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America explores individual, cultural, institutional and structural causes of racial problems, looking towards new and viable solutions. Over the past eight years, with the generous support of Comcast NBCUniversal, this project has provided a neutral space to tackle the difficult issues around race and race relations in America.

Opening presenter, Alexis McGill Johnson of the Perception Institute opened the 2018 Symposium with eye-opening data that displays how a person’s attitude and perceptions around race directly influences their actions.  She detailed what she calls the “fairness paradox,” supporting the claim that just because a person believes in fairness does not mean that they practice fairness. And adds, “The way we have been taught to practice fairness is the problem―objectivity, colorblindness, meritocracy.”

The 2018 Symposium on the State of Race in America focused on two important themes – voting patterns and racial hate speech. Participants questioned whether political candidates rely too much, or not enough, on votes from people of color.  They tackled the difficult discussion surround the rise of racial hate speech and inconsistencies in how it is reported and categorized by authorities. Panelist Suman Raghunathan noted, “The FBI estimates that for every 1 hate crime reported to the federal government, 40 go unreported.”

The event concluded with attendees contemplating the future of the next generation and the impact the current racial environment will have on them. Storyteller Jamia Wilson vowed to be a catalyst for positive change via her latest book, “Young, Gifted and Black,” and declared, “I’m dedicated to transforming the stories we tell our children. The books we read and the media we consume deeply impact our idea of what we can be. All children deserve to see positive images of themselves.”

Watch the footage from of this year’s Symposium.