Professor Hettie Williams, a Lecturer of African American History at Monmouth University and a Ph.D. Candidate at Drew University, spoke to Brookdale students on March 5, about race and identity in the United States, how it has impacted American history, and how it continues to do so with the election and re-election of President Barack Obama.
As the United States continues to diversify, the classification system and the current cultural stigmas associated with race will shift with new generations, said Williams. Not only is America becoming more multiracial overall, she said, but being multiracial is more culturally accepted.
Williams discussed how countries with a large mixed-race population, such as Brazil and South Africa, have adapted to the growing demands of their nation by including a multitude of options in their census. In contrast, she talked about how the United States census offers limited options for citizens of mixed-race, and how this can lead to inaccurate reporting.
“If I am a child from a Caucasian mother and an African American father, I am labeled African American on the census,”
states Williams. “Unfortunately, I would have to deny part of my ancestry.”
The lecture triggered lively interaction and feedback from Brookdale students about the ambiguity of race, the need for categorization, and the future of the Nation.
The event was sponsored by the International Education Center and the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Education (Chhange) as part of The Big Read Project.