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New Series: Stage for Debate

With Stage for Debate, the Schomburg launches a series of high profile public debates with stellar thinkers who share their positions on the bandied-about notion of “post-blackness.” In the process, the Schomburg will engage a new generation in the spectator thrill of watching two great thinkers and a great moderator, meet face to face, with civility and respect, and passionate delivery and defense of their positions.
For the first Stage for Debate on February 2, 2012, join Billboard Magazine Editor, culture critic, and sports enthusiast Danyel Smith, as she moderates a debate between author Steve Stoute and William C. Rhoden.  Stoute, former music executive, current marketing expert, and CEO of Carol’s Daughter, recently published The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Culture Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.
Tanning posits that the transcendent power of hip-hop culture – where race is less significant -- is helping reinvigorate and revitalize the American dream. New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden writes in his book, Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, how African-American athletes have been at the center of modern culture, but still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built.
Rhoden and Stoute: two premier culture analysts, with somewhat antithetical positions, will discuss whether or not culture and sports are in a “post-black” moment.  Where will you come out in the end?
The second Stage for Debate kicks off on February 29, 2012. Writer and journalist Touré takes the stage with Schomburg Director Khalil Gibran Muhammad and moderator Dorian Warren.
In his new book, Who’s Afraid of Post-­Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now, Touré shares a perspective on how black people see themselves in an America now led by a black president.  Touré - a correspondent for MSNBC, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of three previous books -- interviews 105 luminaries to help him in his goal of "attacking[ing] and destroy[ing] the idea that there is a correct or legitimate way of doing blackness.”
Schomburg Director, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, recently won the coveted John Hope Franklin Publication Prize for his book, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. Through meticulous research and compelling narrative, Dr. Muhammad establishes how the idea of black criminality was crucial to the making of modern urban America, as were African Americans’ own ideas about race and crime. Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, this fascinating book reveals the ongoing influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.
Columbia’s Dorian Warren will be on hand to moderate the Debate. Dorian is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, as well as co-chair of the board of the Applied Research Center.
Touré and Khalil Gibran Muhammad: persuasive analysts with conflicting conclusions about whether embracing “post-blackness” limits or increases individual freedom.  Again, where will you come out in the end?
After all Stage for Debate programs, attendees will have the opportunity to purchase the participants’ books and have them signed by the authors.