Meet Ian Haney López the keynote speaker for our 12th Annual Peace & Justice Action Conference, No Turning Back: Radical Progress and Collective Liberation! Ian teaches and writes about race and law at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law. He currently focuses on the use of racism as a class weapon in electoral politics, and on how to respond. Through more than a decade of research, deep surveys, and message testing, he has shown what kinds of racial messages will divide voters—and what kinds of messages will unify across those divisions to build the broadest coalition. His most recent research focuses on Latino voters. Ian is the author of Dog Whistle Politics (2014) as well as Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America (2019).
We are now a multi-racial population. But can we become a multi-racial society, one that is genuinely racial egalitarian? To do so, we must build the will to overcome centuries of racism. But more than that, we must also defeat racism as a strategy. Ian Haney López challenges the audience to consider how racism functions as a class weapon, one that succeeds by actively promoting white supremacy. The point is not to elevate class over race, but rather, to learn to see how they often operate together. In turn, recognizing that race and class are already tightly linked helps prepare activists to understand the power of race-class fusion politics: the power that comes from combining demands and movements for racial and economic justice, and environmental justice too.
Ian will also lead a conference workshop, Race-Class Praxis. The race-class approach promotes a paradigm change in how activists conceptualize and in turn communicate the core questions that shape citizen participation: Who am I in society? Who threatens me? Who are my allies? And like any paradigm change, internalizing race-class insights requires practicing its application in different contexts. This workshop helps participants ask these key questions of themselves, while also practicing how they might frame race-class issue campaigns.