UNE hosts Princeton scholar Eddie S. Glaude Jr. for discussion on race and democracy

Eddie S. Glaude Jr, Ph.D.
Eddie S. Glaude Jr, Ph.D.

As Black History Month came to a close, the University of New England’s Office of Intercultural Student Engagement (ISE) hosted Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Ph.D., chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, for a discussion about democracy and race in America amid today’s political climate. 

Glaude is one of the nation’s most prominent scholars on the American experience. An author, political commentator, public intellectual, and passionate educator, Glaude examines the complex dynamics of the American experience. 

His writings, including “Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul,” “In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America,” and his most recent, the New York Times bestseller, “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for our Own,” take a wide look at Black communities, the difficulties of race in the United States, and the challenges we face as a democracy.

In his discussion, live streamed on Feb. 26, Glaude addressed white supremacy in the United States, and he declared the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection a riot “fueled by white resentment, white grievance, and white fears.”

“A mob of mostly white men and women … roamed the halls of Congress and declared they were here to ‘stop the steal,’ to act as patriots on behalf of a country in peril,” Glaude remarked. “What was revealed, at least to me, was a clear expression of a different register of civic expression … of those who have the right to dissent and who can claim ownership of the country while the rest of us are expected to shut up and be grateful.”

Glaude went on to say that white supremacy is — and continues to be — a threat to the “fragile experiment” of American democracy.

“The American idea is in trouble,” he said. “We have too long told ourselves a story that secures our virtue and protects our vices, but today we confront the ugliness of who we are, and that ugliness isn’t just about who occupies the White House, or [about] murderous police officers, or [about] loud racists screaming horrible things. It involves, in part, millions of Americans who feel that this country has turned its back on them — that the Browning of America represents in some ways a distinct decline.”

Further, Glaude mentioned that, following the historic 2008 election of President Barack Obama — a supposed turning point in Americans’ views on race — racism and voter suppression only increased. “When a new America was about to be born, the umbilical cord of white supremacy was wrapped around the baby’s neck,” he commented.

To abate white supremacy, Glaude argued, Black voices must be uplifted, and the U.S. must reconcile the “value gap” it has between whiteness and supposed exceptionalism.

“I hold the view that the idea of the value gap, this belief that white people matter more than others, isn't redeemable. The idea of white America isn't redeemable. But that doesn't mean we are irredeemable,” he said. “Instead, we have to get to the rock at the heart of the matter, and this would require that we deconstruct all that the nation holds sacred.”

The event with Dr. Glaude was co-sponsored by the Black Student Union, Brothers of Color, and UNitEd. It can be found in full on UNE’s Facebook page.

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