County takes aim at racism

Paul Mann
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT – When visiting author, lawyer and social justice activist john a. powell is asked by a reporter if America can ever free itself of racism, he tells this story:

“President Obama dreams he is in a conversation with God. The president understands that God can see the entire future, so he asks if America will finally eliminate poverty. God says, ‘Yes, but not in your lifetime.’ Somewhat encouraged, Obama then asks, ‘Will America ever come to grips with climate change?’ Again God answers, ‘Yes, but not in your lifetime.’ Finally, Obama inquires if America can get rid of racism once and for all. This time God answers, ‘Yes – but not in my lifetime.’”

Despite the joke’s fatalism, powell, who spells his name lower case a la the poet e.e. cummings, strongly believes inroads against racism are well within the nation’s grasp if society understands the role of the unconscious mind in racial prejudice and how neuroscience explains it.

powell outlined concrete methods to combat unconscious racial stereotypes in three lectures last week in Arcata, Eureka and Crescent City...

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