Berkeley Talks: Eva Paterson on transforming the nation’s consciousness on race

Read the transcript.

Subscribe to Berkeley Talks, a Berkeley News podcast that features lectures and conversations at UC Berkeley. Review us on Apple Podcasts.

eva paterson smiling

A civil rights champion and litigator for more than four decades, Eva Paterson is president and co-founder of the Equal Justice Society. She spoke with Savala Nolan, director of Berkeley Law’s Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, in 2017 for the summer podcast series, Be the Change. (The Atlantic photo by Edwin Tse)

In this episode of Berkeley Talks, Eva Paterson, president and co-founder of the Equal Justice Society (EJS), talks in 2017 with Savala Nolan (then Savala Trepczynski), director of Berkeley Law’s Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, about when Paterson first realized the need for social justice, litigating implicit bias and why she loves — and hates — America.

“I am a fan of the concept of implicit bias and I think it should be deployed broadly,” says Nolan, who interviewed Paterson for her 2017 summer podcast series, Be the Change. “I am also aware of the criticism, I’m sure you’re aware of it, that part of what makes it attractive is that it absolves white people, meaning people who experience whiteness, of complicity, right? … What do you make of that feeling or criticism that some people have?”

“One of the co-founders of EJS was Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow,” said Paterson. “And she first reminded me of this concept at our conference at Stanford in 2003. It was called Colorblind Racism. … And what we found by talking about implicit bias was this: There was a profound, emotional reaction in the crowd. There were about 400 people there. People were weeping because, for the first time, they could be engaged in a conversation about race where we weren’t calling them racist, where they could look within themselves…

“As our work in this area evolved, this is what we found: We found that talking about implicit racism, implicit bias, allowed you to start having a conversation about race where people could acknowledge the disparities and the unfairness.”

Listen to the full conversation in Berkeley Talks episode 130: “Eva Paterson on transforming the nation’s consciousness on race.”


Listen to other episodes of Berkeley Talks: