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SAIS Black Student Union W.E.B. Dubois Lecture with Dr. Darrick Hamilton

February 18, 2021


Dr. Darrick Hamilton, Professor of Economics and Urban Policy at The New School

The SAIS Black Students Union hosted its inaugural W.E.B. Dubois Lecture featuring Dr. Darrick Hamilton, Professor of Economics and Urban Policy at The New School.

Hamilton began the discussion by noting how he seeks to live a life that promotes human flourishing, in all aspects. For him, knowledge with the purpose of trying to empower, is the main goal of an educator. Following these remarks, he entered the crux of his argument, dissecting America’s racial inequalities in politics, economics, and general society. Hamilton noted, for instance, how COVID deaths largely correlate to racial identity, and that the larger political and economic reality in America is not in favor of people of color.

Hamilton then laid out how Black Americans in particular, have lower wages and benefits, which substantially lowers their chances of fighting off emergencies. He elaborated that a just world needs to be found where race would have no transactional value to our physical and psychological security. In tandem, he dissected the failings of America’s modern neoliberal and plutocratic economic environment that has destroyed the social safety net, and denies access to land, capital, and civic engagement, for colored Americans. Since power and capital are self-reinforcing, Hamilton believed that without a serious challenge an apathetic government would remain beholden to major corporations. Consequently, Hamilton recalled how blacks are framed to be deficient in knowledge, when really they are deficient in opportunity.

Major issues for the black community thus were prevalent even with college educations. As Hamilton noted how, blacks with college degrees have 70% greater health disparities with comparable whites, and how blacks are not protected by social class. To counter this Hamilton called for the forgiveness of student debt, a federal job guarantee, reparations, an economic bill of rights, an authentic teaching of history, and a lifelong commitment to justice. He concluded by noting that identity will not end, rather we need to end outcomes being based on identity.