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Expert on Racial Classification to Kick Off Discussion Series at Ithaca College

ITHACA, NY — Sociologist Michael Omi — best known for helping develop the theory of racial formation — will kick off the yearlong discussion series sponsored by the Ithaca College Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity (CSCRE). Omi’s talk, titled “Colorblind? The Contradictions of Racial Classification,” will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, in Emerson Suites. It is free and open to the public.

Omi and colleague Howard Winant coauthored the 1986 book “Racial Formation in the United States,” now considered a classic in the literature on race and ethnicity. It was updated in 1994 to include new research as well as developments in American racial politics up to that time, focusing on such key events as the 1992 presidential election, the Los Angeles riots, and the Clinton administration’s racial politics and policies.

The two are currently working on a project that critically examines contemporary patterns of racialization in the United States. Their research centers on the emergence of both “colorblind” and “color-conscious” ideologies, strategies and practices in the post-Civil Rights era — and the overall impact of these ideologies on the framing of contemporary political and policy debates. Omi is also conducting research that looks at the “racial positioning” of Asian Americans in contemporary sociological literature.

Omi teaches in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His honors include the inaugural Distinguished Teacher and Mentor Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Asia and Asian America, Distinguished Teaching Award from Berkeley and Community Changemakers Award from Asian Health Services of Oakland, California.

The CSCRE fosters dialogues on issues pertaining to race through its annual discussion series. The theme for this year’s series is “Suffocating Knowledge: Race, Power, Possibilities.” Under this broad rubric, participants will explore the current trend of intellectual and curricular repression as manifested in the ongoing attacks on ethnic and race studies programs across the U.S. Speakers will explain what it is about the present social, political and intellectual climate that leads dominant groups to suppress people and knowledges they consider “other.”

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