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Common Book Conversation about Race, Identity, and America
Kane Hall 130

Common Book Conversation about Race, Identity, and America

In Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance Barack Obama traces his narrative, his process of self-discovery and through it raises questions about identity, race, family, and ambition that are directly relevant to each of us and particularly relevant to first-year students. Explore these questions with renowned University of Washington faculty in a conversation around defining issues of our time.

With Dreams from My Father as a trigger, Professors Luis Fraga, Ralina Joseph, and Christopher Parker step away from the lectern and talk frankly and openly about race, identity, democracy, the media, America and more. As scholars of these topics, they each arrived at their intellectual end-points via routes that brought them through popular culture, the military, Jim Crow South, segregated cities and schools, Texas, and Washington D.C. Where will they go from there?

Influence the conversation. Professors Fraga, Joseph, and Parker will base their conversation on selected passages from the book that deal with a number of the many complex and challenging issues discussed by the author. What topics and passages from Dreams from My Father are interesting to you and why? Bring them to the event as there will be time for audience questions.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 7 p.m.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.


Kane 130

Note: Seating is limited and registration is required. Late seating not guaranteed.


About the faculty 

Luis Fraga is associate vice provost for faculty advancement, director of the Diversity Research Institute, Russell F. Stark University Professor, and professor of political science who studies urban politics, education politics, voting rights policy, and the politics of race and ethnicity. His most recent book is the coauthored Latino Lives in America: Making It Home, due out in January 2010. Luis writes, “I was raised in Corpus Christi, TX. It was a very segregated city at that time, and to a substantial degree, still is…I study the political development of the United States with a focus on race and ethnicity. I want to understand why and how institutions and their leaders in American government have made decisions that make it difficult for some segments of the population to become politically, socially, and economically integrated within American society. Stated differently, I study what I do, I think, to understand why communities like the one in which I was raised exist. ”

> Watch “Obama, Sotomayor and the Future of Race in America,” a talk Professor Fraga gave at Stanford University.


Ralina Joseph is an assistant professor interested in contemporary representations of race, gender, and sexuality in the United States. Her book manuscript, Transcending Blackness: Reading Mixed-Race African American Representations in the New Millennium, investigates 1998-2008 era pop culture representations of multiracial African Americans in television, film, the internet, a novel, and a memoir. She writes, “When I was growing up in the Washington, D.C. suburbs in the 1980s, I thought that my nascent obsession with race, gender, and television was simply my geeky hobby.  But soon after I began college I discovered that not only were race, gender, and popular culture objects of academic study, but that I could analyze them together for actual class credit! Through the process of reading and writing about diversity and representation as an undergraduate, I realized that the best job for me would be to turn my old hobby into a career.”

> Listen to Professor Joseph on KUOW Presents in which she spoke about three shows with diverse casts that she enjoys watching: Grey's Anatomy, House Hunters, and Scrubs


Christopher Parker is an assistant professor in political science. His first book, Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans and the Struggle Against White Supremacy in the Postwar South, takes a fresh approach to the civil rights movement by gauging the extent to which black veterans contributed to social change. Christopher writes, “As someone who’s served in the military, I recognize the sacrifice made by the men and women who wear the uniform. But this was taken to another level after I'd spoken with my grandfather and his nephew. Both were born and reared in the Jim Crow South and, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why they'd risked their lives for a country in which they weren't treated equally. I needed to understand why black southerners agreed to serve under less than ideal circumstances.”

> Listen to Professor Parker on KUOW’s Sound Focus Inauguration Special. 


This event is sponsored by Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office of the Dean and First Year Programs

The University of Washington is committed to providing access, equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation contact the Disability Services Office at least ten days in advance at: 206.543.6450/V, 206.543.6452/TTY, 206.685.7264 (FAX), or e-mail at

Time: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

We're sorry, registration for this event is no longer available.