Racial Dynamics of 2008 National Campaign and Election Discussed at RIT

Panel of sociology, anthropology and public policy experts examines role of race

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Will the 2008 election be won based on the issues, or will it come down to race? A panel of expert scholars will discuss “Subliminal Racism and the 2008 Campaign” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science auditorium at Rochester Institute of Technology.

History has shown that a minority candidate may not win an election despite compelling reasons for their candidacy. How race may factor into the McCain–Obama presidential race will be examined during the RIT pre-election discussion.

Panel members include William A. Johnson Jr., who is former mayor of Rochester and distinguished professor of public policy and sociology and anthropology at RIT; Brian Barry, Kijana Crawford and Christine Kray, all associate professors in the department of sociology and anthropology.

The issue of Thomas Bradley and how he lost his bid for California governor in 1982 despite exit polls predicting him the winner is a point of comparison being applied to this year’s national election.

In a recent submission to City newspaper, Johnson laid out his own experience running for public office as a minority. He related the daunting obstacles presented by racial fears and the Bradley effect. The panel seeks to examine these fears and other underlying dynamics of race in the 2008 campaign and election.

Crawford will moderate the discussion. Barry will discuss covert racism and the cognitive dissonance many people may experience regarding the treatment of African Americans in America. Kray will focus on distancing strategies that have been used to create suspicion about Obama, through either racial euphemisms or words depicting him as a foreign threat.

The discussion will be followed by a question and answer session.

For further information contact Danielle Taana Smith, assistant professor of sociology, at (585) 475-4413.