The Ways & Means podcast series ARC of Justice responds to the need for Acknowledgement, Redress and Closure (ARC) to remedy historical injustices that have been faced by Black Americans.
Many believe we live in a post-racial society, yet economic data suggests otherwise. For every dollar of wealth owned by the average U.S. white household, the average Black household possesses a mere ten cents.
It didn’t need to be this way. At several historic moments, the trajectory of U.S. racial inequality could have changed dramatically. But at each juncture, the road chosen veered away from a more just and fair America.
This six-part podcast series, grounded in the scholarship of Duke Professor William A. "Sandy" Darity Jr. and folklorist and arts consultant A. Kirsten Mullen, explores how today’s economic inequality came to be, including the U.S. government’s complicity in its creation.
The series will bring to life themes from their award-winning book, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, through interviews with living descendants of U.S. slavery, renowned experts from Duke University and beyond, historical interviews and other first-person stories.
The series culminates with a live podcast finale event, where Darity, Mullen and special guests explore what options the U.S. government could employ today to right this wrong.
This series is produced by the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, William A. "Sandy" Darity Jr., A. Kirsten Mullen and the team from the award-winning Ways & Means podcast.
Not So Long Ago
We recently interviewed one person who is just one generation away from slavery. Yet the legacy of slavery is clouded by myths, falsehoods and whitewashing – by our collective “dismemory.” We’ll dig into “dismemory” – concerted efforts to distort the nation’s history of slavery, and how it prevents us from reckoning with slavery’s true costs through the generations.
This Land is My Land
One hardy American myth is that this country has a level playing field; that we’re a country full of people who raised themselves up by their own bootstraps. In fact, the U.S. government has repeatedly granted homes and lands primarily to white families. The story is much different for Black families. In this episode, a look at today’s Black-white racial wealth gap and its roots in federal land policy.
A Tale of Two Cities
The American story is full of important forks in the road – times when things might have gone differently for the nation. Racial segregation in housing, for instance, didn't just come about by happenstance. A look at how the government made residential segregation.
Whitening the Middle Class
Education is a doorway to prosperity, yet time and again in American history, that door has been shut for Black people. Consider the GI Bill, which provided college education and housing benefits for veterans after World War II. The GI Bill was a conveyor belt into the middle class for millions of white WWII veterans, but many Black vets were excluded. Subsequent generations continue to feel the effects.
Throughout history, time and again, promising signs of Black progress have been dashed by white violence. And the extent of that violence is much more widespread than the few examples many Americans know. From the lynching of individuals to the decimation of entire communities such as Tulsa, OK in 1921, white mob violence was purposeful and instrumental, with deadly and far-reaching consequences.
Paying the Debt
Throughout history, the U.S. and other countries have paid reparations to a wide range of people and groups, for a variety of wrongs. But reparations to African Americans have not been paid to date. In this episode: listen in on a live conversation about reparations. How would the debt be calculated? Who would qualify? What methods might work? Would reparations fix racial inequality? This episode will be recorded in front of a live virtual audience on Thursday, April 15 at noon and include an audience Q&A. The event is a "Stand for Equality" event through Sanford's 'Stand For' Series, and offered through Duke's Forever Learning Institute.
A. Kirsten Mullen is a folklorist and the founder of Artefactual, an arts-consulting practice, and Carolina Circuit Writers, a literary consortium that brings expressive writers of color to the Carolinas. She was a member of the Freelon Adjaye Bond concept development team that was awarded the Smithsonian Institution’s commission to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Under the auspices of the North Carolina Arts Council she worked to expand the Coastal Folklife Survey. As a faculty member with the Community Folklife Documentation Institute, she trained students to research and record the state’s African American music heritage. Mullen was a consultant on the North Carolina Museum of History’s “North Carolina Legends” and “Civil Rights” exhibition projects. Her writing in museum catalogs, journals, and in commercial media includes “Black Culture and History Matter” (The American Prospect), which examines the politics of funding black cultural institutions. She and William A. "Sandy" Darity, Jr. are the authors of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-first Century (University of North Carolina Press, 2020).
William A. "Sandy" Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and Business and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. He has served as chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and was the founding director of the Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality at Duke. Darity’s research focuses on inequality by race, class and ethnicity, stratification economics, schooling and the racial achievement gap, North-South theories of trade and development, skin shade and labor market outcomes, the economics of reparations, the Atlantic slave trade and the Industrial Revolution, the history of economics, and the social psychological effects of exposure to unemployment. His most recent book, coauthored with A. Kirsten Mullen, is From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century (University of North Carolina Press, 2020).
This series is hosted by journalist Lindsay Foster Thomas, and will be broadcast on North Carolina Public Radio WUNC in 2021.
The Arc of Justice - From Here to Equality (Season 6 of the Ways & Means podcast) is made possible through support from the Duke Office for Faculty Advancement thanks to funding from The Duke Endowment. We’re also grateful for support from North Carolina Public Radio and the Sanford School of Public Policy. The podcast series and live event is part of Duke's Forever Learning Institute as part of the America Today theme.