CANCELED: Seen and Unseen: Technology and the Fight for Racial Justice (In-Person)

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For most of American history, our media has reinforced and promoted racism. But with the immediacy of modern technology—the ubiquity of smartphones, social media, and the internet—that long history is now in flux. Think only of the teenager who caught George Floyd’s killing on camera or the local citizens who used social media to hold prosecutors accountable for properly investigating the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Ordinary people are now able to reveal injustice in a more immediate way, with deep consequences for our future as a nation. Drawing on the themes from his recent book, Seen and Unseen: Technology, Social Media, and the Fight for Racial Justice (co-authored with Marc Lamont Hill), historian and journalist Todd Brewster puts that development into context. From the “souvenir” snapshots taken by lynching enthusiasts to the racist re-telling of the story of the Civil War and its aftermath in the 1915 movie, “The Birth of a Nation”; from Frederick Douglass’s fascination with the camera as a means of self-invention to the photojournalism that galvanized support for the Civil Rights movement, technology has long provided the stage for America’s race story. Brewster shows how each medium—the still picture, the studio movie, the photojournalism, and finally, in our own time the digital imprint and the electronic tether that keeps us “connected” at all times and in all places—has its strengths and weaknesses and how, when it comes to race relations, the nature of technology can determine success and failure. Come hear the author of the book that The Guardian called “brilliant,” and that has been compared to recent best-sellers like The New Jim Crow and Caste.