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The Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America explored new attitudes, opportunities, and challenges for and about people of color in 21st century America. The annual event was presented by the Communications and Society Program in association with Comcast Corporation. The 2015 Symposium included three panels on policing in America after Ferguson and Garner, data-driven discrimination and jobs for minorities in the new economy. Following the morning sessions, the Symposium panelists met for a private luncheon roundtable to have a more in-depth discussion about next steps and recommendations.
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Richard Lui
Anchor, NBC News and MSNBC (MODERATOR)
Juan Williams
Political Analyst, Fox News (MODERATOR)
Benjamin Crump
Attorney, Parks & Crump, LLC
Kim Keenan
Minority Media and Telecom Council
Michael Fertik
Joaquin Alvarado
CEO, Center for Investigative Reporting (MODERATOR)
Julie Brill
Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
Ben Jealous
Co-Chair, Kapor Center for Social Impact and Former President and CEO, NAACP
Earl Lewis
President, Mellon Foundation
Juan Cartagena
President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Ron Busby
President and CEO, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
Edward Flynn
Chief, Milwaukee Police Department
Charles M. Firestone
Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
David L. Cohen
Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Light Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Welcome and Introduction by Charles M. Firestone, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
9:10 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. Remarks by David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation
9:15 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Opening Presentation: The Year in Race
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Panel 1: Policing in America after Ferguson and Garner

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, and in other parts of the U.S. have undoubtedly put race relations at the forefront of the minds of Americans. Many citizens who listen to witness accounts or watch cell phone videos of these incidents feel that law enforcement officers responded with brutality and used unnecessary force. Meanwhile, some suggest that there is a disconnect between public perceptions and the official facts of a case. Minority citizens in these communities fear being wrongfully targeted by police officers, while police officers are in fear while they protect the community, and themselves, from possible threats. How do we resolve these racial fears? Have race relations worsened in recent months?

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. - 11:45 p.m. Panel 2: Data-Driven Discrimination

Many companies utilize data analytics to learn more about consumers and their behaviors. There are opportunities where data can be used to bring about positive societal change such as increased diversity in the workplace and exposing social inequality. But its use can also raise major privacy and civil rights concerns. The same analytics that could foster diversity could discriminate against racial minorities in credit, advertising or privacy cases, creating a kind of digital redlining. How can big data be used to decrease racial disparities and increase diversity? How can discriminatory use of data be prevented or reversed? What should companies, individuals, and governments do to address the issue?

11:45 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. Panel 3: Jobs for People of Color in the New Economy

One of the great dilemmas of Silicon Valley is obtaining and retaining data scientists and others qualified for the challenging jobs in new technologies, while those same companies have under-represented percentages of minority hires. According to USAToday, computer science jobs are the fastest growing and command the highest salaries, yet just one in 14 technical employees in Silicon Valley is Black or Hispanic. At Google, 3% of the staff is Hispanic and 2% African American. At Yahoo and Facebook 4% are Hispanic and 2% African American. How can this country develop more minorities for tech fields where the U.S. is importing qualified candidates for the jobs that remain vacant?

12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Concluding Remarks
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Private Luncheon Roundtable Session
Next Steps and Recommendations

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