“Living Hopkins” Roundtable 2020

White __________: Naming Racism, Violence, and Power

Heidi Beirich, The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
Iris Barnes, Maryland Lynching Memorial Project
Marc Steiner, Center for Emerging Media
Robbie Shilliam, JHU
Friday, February 21st, 2-4 pm
Mergenthaler 111

Though a long-standing problem in the United States, we have seen a spike in white racial terrorism with the swearing-in of President Donald Trump in 2017. A total of 2,013 of the reported attacks in 2017 were aimed at African Americans and 938 targeted Jewish Americans. The Southern Poverty Law Center has enumerated some eleven white hate groups in Maryland, with at least two based in Baltimore. It is a problem afflicting us in Maryland and beyond and it can take many forms. Examples abound.

In March 2017, a Hampden man traveled across state lines to murder a black New Yorker in an apparently random act of racist violence. In May 2017, a University of Maryland student killed yet another black person, Lt. Richard Collins, in a racist murder. In 2019 the country witnessed a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso – the shooter’s manifesto published shortly before included white nationalist propaganda. In 2018 a gunman killed eleven people during a massacre in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Nine African American churchgoers were killed by a white supremacist during the 2015 Charleston church shooting.

These are not isolated events. Neither are they new. Historically, at least 44 lynchings took place in Maryland between 1854 and 1933. The exact number of lynching victims across the United States sits at almost 5,000 victims. Lesser known is the history of anti-Mexican lynchings in the US that took place around the same time and claimed the lives of hundreds of people. This roundtable offers an opportunity to interrogate white racism, violence and power. What do we mean by these terms? What are their historical and contemporary manifestations? How do the national and international dimensions inform each other? How does anti-black racism intersect with misogyny, homo- and trans-phobia and other forms of discrimination in the motivations for these attacks? What do they tell us about American society? And how can we tackle them?

Panelist Bios

Dr. Robbie Shilliam, Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Robbie Shilliam is a Professor in the Political Science Department at Johns Hopkins University. He researches the political and intellectual complicities of colonialism and race in the global order. Currently, Dr. Shilliam is working on three strands of inquiry: firstly, a re-reading of classical political economy through its intimate relationship to Atlantic slavery, with a bearing towards contemporary controversies regarding “social conservatism”; secondly, a retrieval of Ethiopianism as a critical orientation towards global order, especially in terms of its cultivation of a tradition of anti-colonial anti-fascism from the 1930s onwards; and thirdly, South-South anti-colonial connections, especially between peoples of the African Diaspora and indigenous movements.

Dr. Iris Barnes, Maryland Lynching Memorial Project
Dr. Iris Barnes is the Vice President of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, which works towards a reconciliation with regards to lynching in Maryland by documenting the history of racial terror lynchings, advocating for public acknowledgement of these murders and working to honor and dignify the lives of the victims. Dr. Barnes is also the Curator of the Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum in Baltimore, which is owned by Morgan State University. She earned her doctorate in History with a concentration in African American and Twentieth Century United States History; her master’s degree in Museum Studies and Historical Preservation; and her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Art Education. She has received numerous awards: The Excellence in Exhibitions and Programming Award from the Maryland Historical Trust, a Diversity Fellowship from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the John Kinard SEMC JIMI Award from the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture, among them.

Dr. Heidi Beirich, The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
Dr. Heidi Beirich is an expert on various forms of extremism, including the white supremacist, nativist and neo-Confederate movements as well as racism in academia. Dr. Beirich recently joined The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, which seeks to fill a gap in the lack of monitoring of extremism in Europe and places like New Zealand and Australia. Previously, Dr. Beirich worked for 20 years at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she led their Intelligence Project which published the award-winning Intelligence Report and the Hatewatch blog that monitors white supremacist and other hate groups in the United States. She oversaw the SPLC’s yearly count of the nation’s hate and hardline, anti-government groups and was a frequent contributor to the SPLC’s investigative reports. Before joining the SPLC staff in 1999, Dr. Beirich earned a doctorate in political science from Purdue University.

Marc Steiner, Center for Emerging Media
Marc Steiner first started The Marc Steiner Show in 1993. Since then, he has become a state-wide and nationally acclaimed interviewer on a diverse set of social justice themes, ranging from racism to homelessness and incarceration to ecological concerns. In 2018, he began producing stories for The Real News Network. Mr. Steiner is currently executive producing a video documentary series called “Alabama Chronicles,” featuring Dr. Martin Luther King and other key players in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Besides his interviewing and reporting work, he has started several local initiatives such as a theater program in the Maryland State prison system and Family Circle Theater, a company of teenagers who wrote, produced, directed, and acted in original productions.