Berkeley Talks: Professor Michael Omi on racial classification in the census


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How are individuals and groups racially classified? What are the meanings attached to different racial categories? And what impact do these categories have on a range of policies and practices? Taking the U.S. Census as a site of racial classification, Michael Omi, a professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, examines the shifting state definitions of race and how individuals and groups assert, embrace, reject and negotiate different racial categories and identities.

Michael Omi speaking

Michael Omi is a professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley and associate director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. (UC Berkeley photo by Max Godino)

Michael Omi is co-author, along with Howard Winant, of Racial Formation in the United States (3rd edition, 2015), a groundbreaking work that transformed how we understand the social and historical forces that give race its changing meaning over time and place.

At UC Berkeley, Omi serves as the associate director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, is a core faculty member in the Department of Ethnic Studies and is an affiliated faculty member of sociology and gender and women’s studies. Omi is also a recipient of UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award, an honor bestowed on only 240 Berkeley faculty members since its inception in 1959.

This lecture, given on Feb. 20, 2019, was part of a series of talks sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).

See all Berkeley Talks.