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Rutgers alumnus speaks in James Dickson Carr Lecture Series

<strong>The James Dickson Carr Lecture series was held at the Busch Student Center and hosted by the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement.</strong>
Photo by Curstine Guevarra<strong>The James Dickson Carr Lecture series was held at the Busch Student Center and hosted by the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement.</strong>

Rutgers alumnus and Harvard Kennedy School scholar Khalil Gibran Muhammad spoke as part of the James Dickson Carr Lecture series at the Student Center on Busch campus, according to an article on Rutgers Today

This lecture series was hosted by the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement. The series brings public intellectuals to speak on issues of diversity and equity with the Rutgers community, according to the article. Muhammad spoke on the topic of history and equality.

“We can choose to build a new civic culture that sees our history not as an unfortunate diversion from the inevitable march toward progress, but rather as a necessary component,” Muhammad said, according to the article. “To see our democracy flourish is to demand new history lessons, new civics lessons and new origin stories, ones that are drawn out of the stories we keep forgetting and restoring.”

Muhammad also spoke about his experience of earning a Ph.D. at Rutgers and working with Paul Clemens, a professor in the Department of History, according to the article. He said the University does well in its approaches to avoid bias education and has served as a role model for other institutions.

He referenced the success of the Scarlet and Black Project, which is Rutgers’ historical exploration of the experiences of both Black and Native American members of the University community, according to the article. Muhammad also spoke about Marisa Fuentes, presidential term chair in Black history, and her work.

Muhammad has published multiple books that focus on the link between race and crime throughout the United States, according to the article. He has also been featured in The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 project.

People of all ages can find difficulty with learning the history of racial bias, Muhammad said, according to the article. But by being exposed at proper developmental stages, people can become immune against negative societal tendencies.

“What if we could eliminate the worst systemic manifestations of American racism and the everyday expression of bigotry and bias with a vaccine?” Muhammad said, according to the article.

He also introduced a phrase he created, called “bias education as a social vaccine,” according to the article.

Muhammad said social vaccines could affect society in the same manner that medical vaccines do for children, according to the article. Educational bias will expose children to discrimination based on social bias’ in the same way that vaccines expose people to small doses of harmful diseases.

He also touched on racial socialization in the school system, how color blindness also serves as silence and the way in which current textbooks contribute to learned bias, according to the article. He also provided other examples of current progress.

As part of Access Week 2020, the James Dickson Carr Lecture series is part of a University-wide initiative to increase the awareness on campus for first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students, according to the article.

Rutgers University—New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy and Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement Anna Branch said it was important to improve the access to education for everyone, according to the article.

“As a first-generation student myself and as a Rutgers alum(nus), I take a lot of pride in Access Week,” Molloy said, according to the article. “It encourages us to think about the opportunities we have to open our doors to more students from different backgrounds and to support their success.”