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The Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America explores new attitudes, opportunities, and challenges for and about people of color in 21st century America. The 2012 panels included topics on:

  • Political Factors
  • The Latino Vote
  • The New American Identity
  • Education
  • News Media

The annual event is presented by the Communications and Society Program in association with Comcast Corporation.

Highlights from the 2012 Symposium on The State of Race.

Charles M. Firestone
Executive Director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
David L. Cohen
Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation Political Contributor, CNN
James Jackson
Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, and Professor of Afro-American and African Studies, University of Michigan
Charles Blow
Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
Karen Narasaki
former President, Asian American Justice Center
Norm Ornstein
Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Juan Williams
Political Analyst, Fox News (moderator)
Maria Cardona
Democratic Strategist and Principal, Dewey Square Group
Leslie Sanchez
Author and Political Analyst
Maria Teresa Kumar
Executive Director, Voto Latino
Michael Scherer
White House Correspondent, TIME Magazine
Jose Diaz-Balart
Anchor, Telemundo (moderator)
Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez
Director, School of Transborder Studies, Arizona State University
Author, “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness”
Jose Antonio Vargas
Founder, Define American
Khin Mai Aung
Director of the Educational Equity and Youth Rights Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Kaya Henderson
Chancellor, DC Public Schools
Kurt Schmoke
Dean, Howard University Law School and former Mayor of Baltimore City, Maryland
Ruben Navarrette
Columnist, Washington Post Writers Group
Andrew Rojecki
Author, “The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America,” and Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago
Antoine Sanfuentes
Washington Bureau Chief, NBC News
Doris Truong
President, Asian American Journalist Association
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.

Presentation on the Demographics of Race

9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Panel 1: Political Factors

American politics are becoming more and more polarized along ideological lines, as contemporary fights over health and financial issues illustrate. What are the implications of this polarization for racial and ethnic minorities? How has the election of an African-American President impacted minority communities and race relations as a whole? How can Americans end the use of race, language and national origin as political and cultural wedges?

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Panel 2: The Latino Vote

Recent polls suggest that Latinos are dissatisfied with both major political parties and less than enthusiastic about the upcoming Presidential election. Politically, many assume that the Democratic Party will gain the Hispanic vote, but with recent shifts in the demographic landscape, how valid is that assertion? How will large Latino populations in states like Arizona and Florida affect the outcome of the presidential race?

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Panel 3: The New American Identity

Rather than referring to the U.S. as “The Melting Pot”, many suggest that the country is in essence a “hyphenated America”, or a mosaic of cultures and ethnicities. With an estimated 12 million unauthorized immigrants believed to be living in the United States, immigration is an issue that is already shaping politics for the next Presidential election. What impact does immigration and immigration policies have on race relations in America? What is the new American identity?

2:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Panel 4: Education

Schools in America are failing children of color at alarming rates. While the public education system should be a powerful democratizing institution, many charge that it is a stratifying institution that ossifies class difference.

Again, the debate has become polarized. Teacher preparedness and accountability, family engagement, and student expectations account for only part of the achievement gap between whites and children of color. There is a desperate need for public policies, school reform strategies, and teachers, families and students to pull in the same direction. What would it take to dismantle America’s racial education ghettos?

3:40 p.m. - 4:55 p.m. Panel 5: News Media

Domestic and international news media influence and directly affect the quality and accuracy of information being shared with the public. News coverage of events, particularly of Presidential elections, display the ways in which the media can play a role in furthering divisions between races and ethnic groups as well as ameliorating them. In the current media environment, what changes are needed to ensure inclusive and balanced reporting? How has news coverage of the 2012 Presidential election affected minority populations? What role should the news media play in solving rather than exacerbating racial and ideological problems?

4:55 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Closing Remarks and Adjournment

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