Becoming Black: A Meditation on Racialization

Emily Bernard, Professor of English

Emily Bernard, Professor of English

“Becoming Black:  A Meditation on Racialization”

Professor Bernard‘s daughters weren’t born black; they are Ethiopian by birth.  Blackness is the social condition that largely determines their experiences in the United States.  They were five years old when they absorbed the fact that black is an ideological, socio-political category that has little to do with actual skin color.  They are gradually becoming black, even though they were born in a place where the concept of “blackness” does not exist.  In this lecture, Bernard explores the way that blackness is learned and also lived.

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Emily Bernard is Interim Director of the ALANA U.S. Ethnic Studies program.  Her first book, Remember me to Harlem:  The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten (2001), was a New Your Times Notable Book of the Year.  Her essays have been reprinted in Best American Essays and Best of Creative Non-Fiction.  Bernard has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Yale University, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University.  Her most recent book is Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance:  A Portrait in Black and White.  

The Dean’s Lecture Series was established in 1991 as a way to recognize and honor colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences who have consistently demonstrated the ability to translate their professional knowledge and skill into exciting classroom experiences for their students — faculty who meet the challenge of being both excellent teachers and highly respected professionals in their own discipline. The Award is a celebration of the unusually high quality of our faculty and has become an important and treasured event each semester.

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