Monday, November 28, 2016

What does the American dream look like to you? To your neighbor? How does your life experience compare with that of someone from a different ethnic background, a different economic class, or a different religion? These questions have been at the heart of the 2016 political debate but their roots are as deep and tangled as the history of America itself. With a closely divided electorate, highly-charged rhetoric, and unaccountable social media messaging, the chasm in understanding can seem all but infinite. Joan Kjaer and her guests will discuss thorny, controversial, and critical issues of social justice in contemporary society on “WorldCanvass: White Privilege, Structural Racism, and the Dream of America.” The free, public program takes place on December 7, from 7:30-9:00 p.m., in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum.

In the opening segment, Loren Glass, Tlaloc Rivas, and Jason England will set the stage, defining both white privilege and structural racism, and offering a brief history of how such structures have developed in the United States. In segment two, Glass will be joined by Deborah Whaley and Rachel Williams to elaborate on specific examples of white privilege and structural racism, with attention to the rise and fall of white supremacy in the history of the U.S. and its corresponding relationship to institutionalized jailing, punishment, surveillance, and discipline for people of color. And in the final segment, Jennifer Sessions and Anny Curtius will examine the rise of cultural nationalism and provide an international perspective on discussions about race—both European views of American racism and Europe’s own struggles with privilege and racism in the postcolonial era. They will also reflect on contradictions in the ways the U.S. has historically offered an escape route for those fleeing religious and racial persecution in Europe, while Europe has sometimes been a haven for victims of racism in the U.S.

WorldCanvass: White Privilege, Structural Racism, and the Dream of America

Part 1 (7:30-8:00)

Loren Glass—professor, UI Department of English

Tlaloc Rivas—assistant professor, UI Department of Theatre Arts

Jason England—lecturer, UI Department of Rhetoric

Part 2 (8:00-8:30)

Deborah Whaley—associate professor, UI Department of American Studies

Rachel Williams—associate professor, UI Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies; UI School of Art and Art History (Intermedia)

Loren Glass—professor, UI Department of English

Part 3 (8:30-9:00)

Jennifer Sessions—associate professor, UI Department of History

Anny Curtius—associate professor, UI Department of French and Italian

WorldCanvass is recorded before a live audience for later broadcast on YouTube, iTunes, and the Public Radio Exchange. Free podcasts can be downloaded from iTunes and past programs are available through IP’s website.

WorldCanvass is a production of UI International Programs in collaboration with the UI School of Music and the UI Office of Strategic Communication. We thank the UI Pentacrest Museums for their gracious assistance with the production of this program. For more information on WorldCanvass, contact Joan Kjaer ( or visit the WorldCanvass web page.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa- sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Amy Green in advance at or 319-335-1433.

Related article: Upcoming event examines race and privilege