Berkeley Talks


john powell on rejecting white supremacy, embracing belonging

Ep. 53

On Friday, Aug. 30, UC Berkeley held a symposium that marked the start of a yearlong initiative, "400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Oppression," commemorating the 400th anniversary of the forced arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies with a daylong symposium. It drew hundreds of attendees who heard from more than a dozen historians and social scientists about the impact and legacy of slavery in society today.

In his keynote speech to close the symposium, john powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and professor of law, African American studies and ethnic studies, discussed the link between slavery and white supremacy. Slavery, he said, created anti-black racism, which was necessary for the extraction of capital.

“It was never about, ‘I don’t like you because you’re different, because you have more melanin than me.’ It was about capital. It was about the U.S. industrializing … It was about the elites trying to figure out how to extract as much capital as possible and using people and people’s land to do that. Slavery is about America,” he said.

Read the transcript and see photos on Berkeley News.

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Activist Pua Case on the movement to protect Mauna Kea

Ep. 150
Pua Case, a Native Hawaiian activist and caretaker from the Flores-Case ʻOhana family, discusses the movement to protect Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii and the tallest mountain in the world."We have been standing successfully for 12 years against the building of a huge telescope," Case said at a Berkeley Center of New Media event on Aug. 29, 2022. "Not because it's a telescope, but because it's an 18-story building of any kind that would be built on the northern plateau in a pristine landscape on a sacred mountain, and for so many reasons."For 12 years, we have remained visible, we have remained committed, we have remained engaged and fully activated. But it is as if on a daily basis we have never stood because they are determined to build. And so, any of you who are facing what we're facing today, when a corporation, an institution, a developer, whatever the case may be — for us, five countries are determined to build no matter the consequence — it is almost as if you have to re-establish every day that you are here."This talk was presented as part of the Art, Technology and Culture Colloquium, the History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series, and the Indigenous Technologies Initiative. It was co-sponsored by the American Indian Graduate Program, the Arts Research Center, the Department of Ethnic Studies, Media Studies, the Center for Race and Gender, and Native American Studies.Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.Photo by Matt Biddulph via Flickr.