I'd like to invite scholars to participate in a panel at the American Studies Association convention in San Antonio next fall (Nov. 18-21)on the infamous arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. last summer. I am unsure of the format of the panel: it will depend upon the number and type of responses I receive. Those of you familiar with the ASA convention know that the organizers favor panels that are interdisciplinary, and that they encourage a variety of presentation formats (from roundtables to traditional papers and everything in-between). Each year the program centers around a theme; this year the description begins this way:
"Ever since 20 January 2009, the US has had one African American man serving a term in the White House and more than a million serving terms in the Big House. US prisons and jails hold more than two million prisoners, mostly of color, virtually all modestly educated women and men in the prime of their lives. In the midst of multiple global crises - war, finance capital, economies, climate change, hunger - it has come to this. What is it that this is? Change, surely. But what changed?"
The topic brought to my mind many questions about Professor Gates's arrest and the media attention it drew, from reports in the local paper (The Boston Globe) right on up to the closed-door meeting at the White House known as "the beer summit." Regardless of the circumstances of the incident, which was as complex as it was unfortunate, an opportunity for a widescale discussion of racial profiling was swept under the carpet. I think the theme of next year's ASA provides a good opportunity to put the incident and its aftermath in context. Please notify me via e-mail asap if you are interested; I'd like to have a panel together by January 10.
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