What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: What kind of language has held us back in talking about raceAlexander:    If you think about, for example, the one drop loss that gave us Black and White people in the first place, right?  One drop… I mean, what kind of language is that, right?  One drop of Black blood makes a person a Black evermore, I mean, that’s rather rigid.  And that for some people, in either some circumstances or in some bodies, there is nothing at all that is fluid and malleable about racial identification.  So I think that it’s an incredibly interesting topics, these systems of classification, what they mean and what is particularly American about the way that it’s played out over several hundred years. 

Question: Are we still uncomfortable with the language of raceAlexander:    Yes, I don’t know if that’s really any different from… in the past.  I mean, if you think about all of the different things, let us say, that I more commonly say that Black people only because that was… that is the sort of what I was raised on, right?  I mean, what you start out calling the people who you know who you’re talking about.  You know, just because there’s a press conference in whatever it was, 1998 and Jessie Jackson says, “African-Americans now.”  You know, these things evolve and we cycled through a few things more than once, around the turn of the century, many Black people call themselves [Afro-Americans], one word, you see that on a lot of the intellectual material at the turn of the century so these things cycle.  There’s a poem I love by Gwendolyn Brooks where she says, “I am Black.  I am one of THE Blacks.  We occur everywhere.  Don’t call me out of my name…” the voice of the child and the premise of the poem is that teacher has said, “We are now African-Americans,” but what this child holds onto about being called Black is that he wants to be understood as part of a diaspora of Black people.  And so I think that that’s very interesting as well, you know, how the sense of sort of nation converges with a racial understanding of self.  So these… I don’t think these moment is any different from before and I guess that what I would follow which seems to me to be common courtesy as to call people what they wished to be called.

 

Elizabeth Alexander on Lang...

Newsletter: Share: