Special Feature: I speak at New Bright Lights

Welcome Pharyngulites and redditors! Please make sure to check out the preamble to this post before watching the videos.

Many of you are probably aware that I was invited to speak about race, racism and its relevance to the skeptical movement at the beginning of the month. The event was part of a lecture series under the name New Bright Lights (I’d provide a link, but there’s no homepage), in which speakers on a variety of topics are invited to discuss their subject of expertise.

I was a bit nervous to participate in this event, for a few reasons. I am not now, nor have I ever been, afraid to speak in public. However, I am not an expert with a strong academic background in issues of race. I am a relative newcomer, despite the fact that the issues have been of particular relevance to me my whole life. In addition, there is a lot of information that an audience needs to be equipped with before most of this content can be understood. Part of my reason for starting this blog was in response to repeated requests from friends for more clarification on issues they hadn’t discussed before for fear of being labeled as bigots.

I am glad that I decided to participate, however. It forced me to re-tool my blog content for a different method of delivery, and helped me clarify a few issues in my own mind about how my life as a skeptic is not divorced from my life as an anti-racist. Jason Harmer at New Bright Lights was gracious enough to fast-track the video production for me so that I could put it up for you. A few caevats before you watch though:

  1. I am reading from a script in order to avoid the usual “um” and “err” problem, and to keep the presentation timely, so that’s why I spend so much time looking down.
  2. I do have Powerpoint slides, which I am making available here. It’s probably easier to play the video in the background and watch the slide show, since I don’t do anything particularly entertaining besides stand there and talk. The audio should suffice.
  3. You’ll notice that the audio cuts out at various places during parts 1 and 2. This is not an issue of video quality – I have removed the names of people whose stories I told. None of the stories are offensive or make people look bad, but they are my friends and I respect their right to privacy – especially since I didn’t ask permission first.
  4. As I said in my post a couple weeks ago, I think I concentrated too much on issues of black and white people, largely missing the rich context of non-black/white conflict. Please do not interpret this as a trivialization of these issues, merely the fact that I am not nearly as familiar with them.

So without any further delay, here are the videos:

Feedback is, as always, appreciated.


  1. says

    Took me a while to get around to watching the whole thing, but I’m glad finally I did. As a privileged white male, it can be WAY too easy to carry on blissfully ignorant of how relentless the experience of bigotry is for those who don’t share the incredibly small subset of genes that give me an unearned lifetime free pass.
    Thanks for smartening me up a bit.

  2. says

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, and that you were willing to sit through the whole thing 😛

    I’m not sure I would characterize white skin as a “free pass” – perhaps a lifetime benefit of the doubt is more accurate.


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