Big Ideas: Election 2020
Combining real-time analysis of the election campaigns, an in-depth study of the relevant historical context, and a lively roster of guest speakers from academics and social movement leaders, this UC Berkeley class provides an interdisciplinary introduction to American politics in a time of unprecedented crisis and possibility. This class illuminates the historical origins of the present crisis while serving as an active laboratory for generating new knowledge about how we engage with electoral politics.
Ian Haney López on Race-Class Praxis - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
10/28/2020
Ian Haney López is is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes on race and racism in the law. His focus for the last decade has been on the use of racism in electoral politics, and how to respond. Ian develops and promotes a race-class praxis which argues that powerful elites exploit social divisions for private gain, so no matter what our race, color, or ethnicity, our best future requires building...
Political Messaging and Strategy - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
10/26/2020
This lecture begins with a discussion of California's ballot measure Prop 16 which seeks to overturn Prop 209, the 1996 ban on affirmative action in the state. This discussion considers both the history of California ballot measures and looks closely at how ballot measures have remade racial liberalism in postwar California. From there we turn to our primary topic which is that of political messaging and political strategy. We begin with the ideas promoted by Ian Haney Lopez and...
Matt Nelson, Director of Presente - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
10/21/2020
Matt Nelson is Executive Director of Presente.org, the nation's largest online Latinx organizing group dedicated to advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture. Born in Colombia and raised in the Midwest, Matt was the Organizing Director at ColorOfChange.org and co-founded several worker-owned cooperatives in multiple midwestern cities. He is a seasoned campaign strategist who has won dozens of local and national campaigns and a community organizer who has...
Voting Rights and Voter Suppression - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
10/19/2020
This lecture kicks off with Professor Jayaraman's discussion of "astroturf" social movements and the growing battle around California's Ballot Propositions 15 and 22. These propositions represent two attempts of billionaires to privatize the public-school system in California and to re-write the state's labor laws to impose "independent contractor" status upon millions of gig workers. From there Professor Cohen takes up the main topic of voting rights and the...
Zachary Norris, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
10/14/2020
Zachary Norris is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, author of We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities, and co-founder of Restore Oakland, a community advocacy and training center that will empower Bay Area community members to transform local economic and justice systems and make a safe and secure future possible for themselves and for their families. Zach is also a co-founder of Justice for Families, a national alliance...
Chrissie Castro, Chairperson of the Los Angeles City and County Native American Indian Commission - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
10/12/2020
Chrissie Castro, Diné and Chicana, is the Chairperson of the Los Angeles City County Native American Indian Commission, and co-led the change to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in the City and County of Los Angeles. She was a co-founder of Indigenous Women Rise, which organized the Indigenous women's contingent of 1,000 Indigenous Women at the Women's March in DC. She is the Network Weaver of the Native Voice Network, a national network of 35+ Native-led...
Culture and Social Movements - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
10/7/2020
This lecture looks at social movements and culture in history through three theoretical models of social, political and historical change: Karl Marx's theory of historical materialism as expressed in the "base-superstructure" model, Antonio Gramsci's theories of intellectuals and of consent and coercion in the shaping of hegemony, and Black feminism as expressed by Combahee River Collective. Marx's theory influenced the formation of the movements of the19th century; the...
Social Movements and Democracy - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
10/5/2020
This lecture opens with the breaking news of Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis and the super spreader event that broke out in the White House last week. From there we turn to a detailed discussion of social movements, organizing and democracy. Professor Jayaraman discusses the question of power, the elements and goals of organizing, the dynamics of social movements, and the cycles of contention through which social movements grow. She argues that the more people engage in contentious...
Rashad Robinson, Color Of Change - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
9/30/2020
This lecture features Rashad Robinson, the President of Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization. The organization helps people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by 1.7 million members, they move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Color Of Change uses an innovative combination of technology, research,...
The Partisan Divide - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
9/28/2020
This lecture takes on the question of why we have only two political parties in the United States and how the two party system shapes our politics. Most significantly, this lecture looks at the ways in which the politics of race - Black civil rights in particular - during the Civil War, Reconstruction, the modern Civil Rights Movement and the election of Barack Obama served to shift the two political parties into new realignments. This lecture traces the transformation of the two...
The Politics of Inequality - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
9/23/2020
This lecture takes up the question of neoliberalism, income inequality and low wage workers. We begin with a brief overview of the political economy of the neoliberal project from the 1970s to the present, considering neoliberalism as both an economic philosophy and a political project of the global ruling class. Professor Jayaraman then takes up the main topic of the lecture on the politics of low wage workers, especially workers in the food service industry. Working through a...
Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the Election - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
9/21/2020
Today we explore the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the consequences her death may have for election 2020. The sudden death of the 87 year old jurist and feminist icon has not only disrupted the already unprecedented election season, but it has raised the stakes for the Presidency, the Senate and the future of the Supreme Court going forward. In this discussion we try to illuminate the partisan politics behind seeking her replacement, the constituencies most committed...
Racial Classification and the 2020 Census with Michael Omi - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
9/16/2020
Today we take up the question of racial classification and the 2020 census with professor Michael Omi. Professor Omi is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, Asians American and Asian Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley. He is the author, along with Howard Winant, of the ground breaking work Racial Formations in the United States, now in its third edition. At Berkeley, Professor Omi serves as the Associate Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, and is an...
Big Ideas: Election 2020: Race, Space and Politics
9/14/2020
The principle question for this presentation is what is "race" and how does it shape our politics? We begin with an introduction looking at the ongoing western wildfires, its differential impact upon white versus communities of color and the prison workers who get paid pennies a day to fight wildfires in California. From there we turn to a consideration of race and racism as defined by sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant. Together, they define race as "a...
How Democratic is the US Constitution? - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
9/9/2020
"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal." As look at the history of American democracy, we begin with the nation's founding contradiction: the dispossession of Natives, the enslavement of Africans and the exclusion of women in a new nation dedicated to the radical concept of universal human equality. Through a reading of the founding documents of the United States, ranging from the Declaration of Independence to the speeches of Abraham...
Aimee Allison from She The People - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
9/2/2020
Aimee Allison is founder and president of She the People, a national network elevating the voice and power of women of color. She brings together voters, organizers, and elected leaders in a movement grounded in values of love, justice, belonging, and democracy. In 2018, Ms. Allison was one of the primary architects of the "year of women of color in politics." She is building a political home for a million women of color, nationally and in battleground states....
The Context of Election 2020 - Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas
8/31/2020
In our opening public lecture, we will take up the immediate context of the 2020 election to consider what is at stake in COVID-19 and the recent uprisings around Black Lives Matter and racial injustice for the United States? We will draw upon Arundhati Roy's concept of the "pandemic as portal," in which she writes: "Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway...
 

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