Mychal Denzel Smith - "Invisible Man" and Marc Lamont Hill - "Nobody" - with Charlene Carruthers

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Mychal Denzel Smith discusses Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education and Marc Lamont Hill discusses Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond. They will be joined in conversation by Charlene Carruthers.

Co-sponsored by CSRPC

At the Co-op


About the author: Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute and a contributing writer for The Nation magazine. He has also written for The New York TimesThe AtlanticSalonFeministing.comThe Guardian, The Root, theGrio, ThinkProgress, and The Huffington Post, and he has been a featured commentator on NPR, BBC radio, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera America, HuffPost Live, and a number of other radio and television programs. @mychalsmith

About the book: Mychal Denzel Smith is one of the country’s most prominent young writers on race, known for challenging the political and cultural scripts for millennial black manhood.  In his highly-anticipated, unapologetic memoir, Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education, Smith delivers an unflinching account of what it means to be a young black man in America today and reflects on his efforts to find an identity in a world that has denied his humanity.

Since 2004, young black men have watched Barack Obama’s presidential ascent but have also witnessed the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, and so many others killed by police or vigilante violence. In Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education, Smith struggles to reconcile these two vastly different fates for young black men in America and explores the spectrum of existing opportunities for black men in between.  From powerful moments of black self-determination like LeBron James’ “decision,” to the mobilization of thousands in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, to recent and widely reported cases of violence against women, Smith documents of how the public milestones have challenged cultural notions of black manhood.

Chronicling his personal and political education during these tumultuous years, Mychal Denzel Smith narrates his coming-of-age story during a time when too many black men do not survive into adulthood. Smith reimagines the script for black manhood so that depression and anxiety aren’t considered taboo, and unapologetically upends reigning assumptions about black masculinity to ensure that feminism and LGBTQ rights become part of the conversation.

The questions at the heart of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education —How does one learn to be a black man in America? How will the millennial generation change the existing script for black manhood? What will America look like if all black boys lived to see adulthood?—are urgent and unsettling.   Smith’s words are powerful and his message unforgettable.

About the author: Marc Lamont Hill is an award-winning journalist and host of BET News, as well as a political contributor to CNN. He is a Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College. Prior to that, he held positions at Columbia University and Temple University. He lives in Atlanta and New York City. @marclamonthill

About the book: Unarmed citizens shot by police. Drinking water turned to poison. Mass incarcerations. We’ve heard the individual stories. Now a leading public intellectual and acclaimed journalist offers a powerful, paradigm-shifting analysis of America’s current state of emergency, finding in these events a larger and more troubling truth about race, class, and what it means to be “Nobody.”

Protests in Ferguson, Missouri and across the United States following the death of Michael Brown revealed something far deeper than a passionate display of age-old racial frustrations. They unveiled a public chasm that has been growing for years, as America has consistently and intentionally denied significant segments of its population access to full freedom and prosperity.

In Nobody, scholar and journalist Marc Lamont Hill presents a powerful and thought-provoking analysis of race and class by examining a growing crisis in America: the existence of a group of citizens who are made vulnerable, exploitable and disposable through the machinery of unregulated capitalism, public policy, and social practice. These are the people considered “Nobody” in contemporary America. Through on-the-ground reporting and careful research, Hill shows how this Nobody class has emerged over time and how forces in America have worked to preserve and exploit it in ways that are both humiliating and harmful.

To make his case, Hill carefully reconsiders the details of tragic events like the deaths of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and Freddie Gray, and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. He delves deeply into a host of alarming trends including mass incarceration, overly aggressive policing, broken court systems, shrinking job markets, and the privatization of public resources, showing time and time again the ways the current system is designed to worsen the plight of the vulnerable.

Timely and eloquent, Nobody is a keen observation of the challenges and contradictions of American democracy, a must-read for anyone wanting to better understand the race and class issues that continue to leave their mark on our country today.

About the interlocutor: Charlene A. Carruthers is a Black, queer feminist community organizer and writer with over 10 years of experience in racial justice, feminist and youth leadership development movement work. She currently serves as the national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), an activist member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. 

Her passion for developing young leaders to build capacity within marginalized communities has led her to work on immigrant rights, economic justice and civil rights campaigns nationwide. She has led grassroots and digital strategy campaigns for national organizations including the Center for Community Change, the Women's Media Center, and National People's Action, as well as being a member of a historic delegation of young activists in Palestine in 2015 to build solidarity between Black and Palestinian liberation movements. Charlene is the winner of the "New Organizing Institute 2015 Organizer of the Year Award" and has served as a featured speaker at various institutions including Wellesley College, Northwestern University and her alma mater Illinois Wesleyan University. Charlene also received a Master of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Charlene was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago where she currently resides and continues to lead and partake in social justice movements. Her inspirations include a range of Black women, including Ella Baker, Cathy Cohen, and Barbara Ransby. In her free time, Charlene loves to cook and believes the best way to learn about people is through their food.

About the co-sponsor: The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture was established by Michael C. Dawson, with a founding conference taking place in June of 1996 entitled, “Race and Voice: Challenges for the 21st Century.”  From its inception, CSRPC faculty affiliates, students, and staff have been committed to establishing a new type of research institute devoted to the study of race and ethnicity, one that seeks to expand the study of race beyond the black/white paradigm while exploring social and identity cleavages within racialized communities. Scholars affiliated with the Center have also endeavored to make race and ethnicity central topics of intellectual investigation at the University of Chicago by fostering interdisciplinary research, teaching, and public debate. Fundamentally, the Center is committed to contributing intellectually challenging and innovative scholarship that can help people transform their thinking and their lives. Towards those goals, the Center provides funding and other types of support for projects initiated by faculty affiliates, graduate students, undergraduates, artists-in-residence and visiting fellows.  After extensive renovations in 2013, our building now features seminar rooms to host classes and workshops, space for our events and community activities and other resources.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637