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Race and Racism in America: Are We Now A Color Blind Society?

A year ago, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced its “America Healing” initiative, a five-year, $75 million program of grants focusing “on bringing healing to divided communities and bridging racial gaps in the areas of education, health, juvenile justice, economic success, the media, and other areas.”

Writing in NCRP’s Responsive Philanthropy, Dr. Gail Christopher, Kellogg’s vice president for program strategy, noted that the initiative reflects a belief that “our racialized social and opportunity structures have generated and continue to generate two consistent outcomes: privilege for some, and obstacles, pain and suffering for others.” Acknowledging this fact, however painful, is the “beginning of the healing process.” “In mandating that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation become an effective anti-racist organization,” she wrote, “the foundation’s board of trustees acknowledged both the implicit benefits of white privilege and the foundation’s obligation to be responsive to the needs produced by centuries of structural racism.”

Kellogg’s announcement was viewed skeptically by Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Research Professor of History at Harvard University. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, he asked “What evidence convinced Kellogg that racism is such a clear-and-present danger to the children of America today? Foundation officials point to racial and ethnic disparities. . . . But is it self-evident that these economic and educational differences are simply or even largely ‘the consequences of racism.’”

Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center held a discussion of the “America Healing” initiative and its intellectual underpinnings.

Recommended Reading

Dr. Gail C. Christopher, DN, Healing America: A Funder’s Commitment to Racial Equity, Responsive Philanthropy,(Summer 2010)

Stephan Thernstrom, Kellogg’s Bet on ‘Racial Healing,' Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2010

William Schambra, Moderator

Hudson Senior Fellow and Director, Bradley Center for Philanthropy & Civic Renewal

Ron Christie, Panelist

CEO of Christie Strategies and author

Dr. Gail Christopher, Panelist

Vice President of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Sterling Speirn, Panelist

President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Stephan Thernstrom, Panelist

Winthrop Research Professor of History at Harvard University

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