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: Does Obama’s presidency mark a post-racial age?

Alexander:    Well, if I ruled the world, the term post-racial would not exist.  I don’t see post-racial as a goal.  Let me clearly say what I mean here, I don’t think race is to be transcended.  Race itself is not a problem.  We all have race and history and region and gender and class, you know, we all have histories, we’re all from some place and I don’t think that the goal is to say that we’re now all in this fabulous neutral happy place but rather say, “Well, can we hear each other’s stories?”  Can we… can we, sort of, take the weave and the overlap of the experience and really understand it as one thing with a lot of strands that sometimes really have clashed and mumped up against each other.  Can we reconcile a violent history?  Can we reconcile the inequities of the present?  Post-raciality doesn’t accomplish anything per se and I think that what it would also mean is rushing past that which has not been altogether resolved.  Now, on the other hand, are we in a place where, you know, if there is such a thing as the National Conversation on Race is… has maybe moved forward?  Yes.  I think we are in that place and I think that part of it is, you know, that the country has elected, done something that it has never done before, it’s elected an African-American president, it’s elected an African-American president who, in his own background, reflects the incredible and fascinating diversity of African-Americanness, of Blackness, if you will.  Yes, Blackness can be brought up in Indonesia, you know, I mean, I think that that’s actually a very, very interesting that he still places himself under the sign of Blackness but there are different pieces to it because there are different pieces to being Black.  So, you know, that’s very important that we have done something different from what we’ve done before and also very importantly, that White people have all of the millions of White people, you know, you can’t even speak of that as a collective, it seems absurd so it’s absurd to talk about Black people as a collective.  But what people did was, they made, to my mind the excellent choice, right?  That they did not let racial thinking interfere with making what they felt was the choice that was best for the country.  Now, that’s liberation actually, that’s very, very powerful.  To say that I’m not going to let this old thinking in fact lead me to make a poor choice, that I think is a very, very important thing.  And so now, in ways both that Obama himself has lead us to, his extraordinary speech in Philadelphia, the so-called race speech which, you know, I think will be taught for hundred of years to come as a very important American speech.  In a way that really recognizes a lot of paradigms in a racial conversation but also says, “Let’s have a different conversation.”  So he’s helped us move forward in that regard and also there’s some stuff that happens just because he and his wife and his children and his mother-in-law are in the societal spaces that they’re in now for all to see.  It is incalculable and when I say incalculable I say that, you know, I don’t know, you don’t know, nobody knows the kind of cultural work that that’s doing.  You know, Black women, for so many hundred of years defamed and kept outside the category of lady and now the First Lady of the United States is an African-American?  That these people are living in a house in part built by enslaved Black people?  Maintained by Black people?  And they are living in that house?  I mean, the symbolics are very, very, very, very powerful.  And I’m fascinated to see how it’s going to unfold. 

 

Elizabeth Alexander on the ...

Newsletter: Share: