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Discussing the issue of race from the past to today
March 18, 2019
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi hosted the “Separate but Equal from the Civil War to Today” panel Friday, Feb. 22 in the O’Connor Building.
The discussion was a part of the university’s “Campus Conversations” series celebrating Black History Month. Associate professor of Political Science Dr. Shane Gleason discussed race and law ranging from the Civil War to today.
Gleason discussed issues of race that people might deem offensive but don’t know the whole story behind it, such as Colin Kapernick, who received backlash for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. “What they see is someone disrespecting the flag, they don’t see the criminal justice system because they cannot see it from that perspective,” stated Gleason.
Tracing back the issues of race and law to 1619 when the slaves landed in Virginia from ships, Gleason explained how the changes in race and law intertwined with each other throughout American history all a part of legal and social movements that prompted change. Some of these changes include the movement to desegregate schools.
.“The Supreme Court said in 1954, that separate is not equal ordering the desegregation of schools,” said Gleason. “Well that opened the whole host of new problems. How much desegregation is enough?” Although change is happening, the point of the lecture was to show that the issues from the past remain largely the same.
What helped prompt the discussion of race to Gleason was the reaction to certain topics of civil rights, ranging from showing slides of Martin Luther King Jr. to Kapernick taking a knee during a football game. Gleason stated that the issue of race has taken a different form using an example of racial bias in his hometown of Idaho after being pulled over four times and given a warning by the police.
“I was talking about that one time with a Hispanic friend of mine,” said Gleason. “I’d gotten off with a warning four times, and my friend is like, ‘That has never happened to me.’”. Gleason said that Idaho doesn’t have much of a huge minority population except for a few Hispanics and Native Americans. This brought the notion of bias since his friend was Hispanic, he didn’t get any warnings after being pulled over as opposed to Gleason himself.
Gleason added that this is one of the many things that played a factor into police departments having to partake in implicit bias training. This is one of the many examples that he discussed to disprove the assumption that issues of race no longer exist.
“A lot of times the narrative that we hear is that race ceases to be a problem,” said Gleason. “It hasn’t. It’s still there. It’s just taken on a different view.” But with this growing issue going on in our community, race seems to guide our daily interactions.
“It’s part of our society,” said Gleason. “It’s still a part of our experience. It shapes the lives of those around us and then shapes our lives.” He explains that diversity isn’t limited to set communities and it affects anyone no matter what race or sexual orientation the person identifies as and is the main reason why he’s passionate about the topic of race and law.
The session concluded with an open discussion with Gleason and those in attendance that had some questions and comments about the lecture that explained certain topics in further detail.
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