Racism vs. the Promise of America


In-person for Stanford Affiliates: Philippines Conference Room
Online: Zoom

  • Theodore R. Johnson

When The Stars Begin to Fall book cover
About the Seminar: Structural racism threatens the principles that undergird the American creed. A national, multiracial solidarity is the best means of mitigating racism’s effects. The sociopolitical strategies of Black America – grounded in moral claims consonant with the creed but fashioned to be in alignment with contemporary national interests – provide a model for the type of solidarity the United States desperately needs.

This argument is explored in detail in When the Stars Begin to Fall: Overcoming Racism and Renewing the Promise of America. Through an examination of political science and sociological frameworks, alongside personal and historical narratives, it argues that structural racism is a crime of the state, that color-conscious policy is preferable to colorblindness, and that the American civil religion is central to national solidarity. Concluding with policy recommendations, the book offers the next step forward on the intractable issue of racism.


Theodore R. Johnson
About the Speaker: Theodore R. Johnson is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Fellows Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, where he undertakes research on race, politics, and American identity. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, he was a National Fellow at New America and a Commander in the United States Navy, serving for twenty years in a variety of positions, including as a White House Fellow in the first Obama administration and as speechwriter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His work on race relations has appeared in prominent national publications across the political spectrum, including the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and National Review, among others.