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Seeing White: That’s Not Us, So We’re Clean

Saturday, February 10 2018
6:30 PM
Sponsored by

UPDATE: Because of popular response, this event has been moved to Hannaford Hall on the USM campus and is now free to the public, thanks to support from a cadre of sponsors. Suggested online registration HERE via Maine Community Foundation.  To help with crowd management, PLEASE RSVP ONLY if you sincerely plan on attending.  There will be additional walkup seating availability on a first come basis until we reach capacity.

Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring. Some of this feels new, but in truth it’s an old story.

Why? Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for?

In his 14-part documentary radio series, Seeing White, John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika. Seeing White was produced as a series within Biewen’s Scene On Radio podcast from Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, edited by Loretta Williams.

We are excited to be hosting John Biewen and Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika for conversation about radio documentary, Northern racism, and of course, whiteness. As a part of the program, Biewen and Kumanyika will present episode six of their series, which focuses on the ways in which racism has been thought of as a solely a Southern problem. The presentation also includes a general introduction to the series for folks who haven’t heard it, and a version of the conversation between Kumanyika and Biewen that was part of the original episode.

PROGRAM: Episode 36: That’s Not Us, So We’re Clean (Seeing White, Part 6)

When it comes to America’s racial sins, past and present, a lot of us see people in one region of the country as guiltier than the rest. This episode attempts to dismantle the idea that racism is (or ever was) a distinctly Southern problem.


John Biewen is audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, and host and producer of the CDS podcast, Scene on Radio. His award-winning audio work has taken him to forty American states and to Europe, Japan, and India, and has appeared on NPR, This American Life, Studio 360, and the BBC World Service. Biewen started as a reporter with Minnesota Public Radio. He then reported for NPR News from the Midwest and the Rocky Mountains and spent eight years as a correspondent with American RadioWorks, the documentary unit of American Public Media, before joining CDS. He teaches audio to undergraduate, graduate, and continuing studies students in CDS’s Certificate in Documentary Studies programs. He was co-editor of the book, Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound; its second edition was published in 2017.

Chenjerai Kumanyika is a researcher, journalist, an artist who works as an assistant professor in Rutgers University’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies. His research and teaching focus on the intersections of social justice and emerging media in the cultural and creative industries. He has written about these issues in journals such as Popular Music & Society, Popular Communication, The Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture and Technology, Pedagogy and Education.

Currently, Kumanyika is the Co-Executive Producer and Co-Host of Gimlet Media’s new podcast on the Civil War. He has also been a contributor to Transom, NPR Codeswitch, All Things Considered, Invisibilia, VICE, and he is a news analyst for Rising Up Radio with Sonali Kolhatkar.

This event is made possible with support from Maine Community FoundationRising Tide BreweryThe USM Gloria S. Duclos ConvocationTreehouse InstituteSam L. Cohen Foundationand SPACE Gallery.

Please see our updated pandemic policy for fall 2021. Indoor events at 538 Congress Street start in October!