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Berkeley Talks: Should we strive for unity? Or something else?

By Public Affairs

Read the transcript.

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In his inaugural address, President Biden called for Americans to unite more than any other U.S. president. But UC Berkeley experts say unity is unrealistic — at least, right now — and offer other ways to create a more just society.

“Where we are today is a result of decades upon decades of systemic and structural race, class and gender-based injustice,” said Sandra Bass, associate dean of students and director of the Public Service Center, during an April 9, 2021, panel discussion sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Osher Lifelong Learning Center (OLLI).

“To think that we can just jump over all of that and leave it unexamined and unresolved and go straight to unity is not just unrealistic,” Bass continued. “It ignores the genuine harm these systems have and continue to perpetuate, and suggests we all just need to move on without addressing them. We can’t leapfrog over the damage that has been done. We have to go through it, not around it. Given our history, any hope of moving towards some understanding of our shared humanity, and our shared destinies, requires us to go through the painstaking process of truth telling, and reparation in all its dimensions.”

UC Berkeley experts in the panel included:

  • Sandra Bass, associate dean of students and director of the Public Service Center
  • Geeta Anand, dean of Berkeley Journalism
  • Eliah Bures, visiting scholar at the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies
  • David Hollinger, professor emeritus of history

Listen to the full discussion in Berkeley Talks episode 123: “Should we strive for unity? Or something else?”

Watch a video of the talk, and see past and upcoming events on the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s website.