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Dr.J.T. Mills:Helping Students Explore Concepts of Race

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Legitimate knowledge regarding the construction of race in America is absent in today’s youth and college aged students. It is imperative to have an understanding of the fluidity of race in America and its context to the systems that perpetuate the ongoing racial divisions in communities and disparities in health care, economic prosperity, and everyday interactions, for example.

Such clarity for these issues is overshadowed by the notion of post racialism in this society that teaches us to avoid or suppress such discussions in the axiom of “political correctness.”  One only needs to look to the President of the United States who is described as the first African American/Black man to hold that office when he is in reality bi-racial. Moreover, the complexity of race in the United States can further be interrogated in his self identification because he is aware of the social, political, and global lenses that identify him as a man of color over his White ancestry.

It is in this context that Dr. Mills works to create environments and opportunities for students to explore the nuances of race and race relations in America in the hopes of creating an awareness that would bring about greater understanding among and between all people.

These discussions then must begin with analyzing why and how race came about in this country during the 17 and 18 centuries during the economic development of the United States when there was much more cross racial cooperation and even harmony at one point than our history books tell us. Blacks, Whites, and Native American Indians intermingled to create a nation and have had more historical commonalities that is being taught and that needs to be addressed to expose the modern forms of raced based oppression that exists today.

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