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Price Institute's Dr. Jack Tchen and Dr. Lacey Hunter share their thoughts on today's 44th MTW

Dr. Jack Tchen and Dr. Lacey Hunter of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience chat with WBGO's Doug Doyle about the 44th annual MTW Lecture Series
Doug Doyle/Zoom
Dr. Jack Tchen and Dr. Lacey Hunter of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience chat with WBGO's Doug Doyle about the 44th annual MTW Lecture Series

The Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience has put together a wonderful lineup of speakers for today's (Feb. 17) 44th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Seriesat Rutgers University-Newark. The event runs from 9:30am-3:30pm at the Paul Robeson Campus Center.

The Institute's Executive Director Dr. Jack Tchen and Associate Director Dr. Lacey Hunter joined WBGO's Doug Doyle to talk about this year's theme: "The Power of Black Voices: Afrolatin Identities in the Americas."

The 44th annual MTW is on February 17 at Rutgers University-Newark
Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity Culture and the Modern Experience
The 44th annual MTW is on February 17 at Rutgers University-Newark

Dr. Tchen says this year's MTW will dig deeper into important and timely topics.

"In many ways it's a key issue for our whole culture today, not just in the United States, but globally. We see the fractioning and manipulation that's going on. Unless we come to terms with how these divisions happen within our communities we are prey to be manipulated. I think the deeper answer for ourselves coming from these communities in which we're trying to operate within a representative democracy and to represent our own peoples and cultures.

Tchen stresses this year's theme will address many aspects of racism and colonialism.

"It's very importance for our to acknowledge the full diversity of those cultures and how the different kinds of colonialisms that have impacted Asians, African Americans especially, indigenous peoples have really impacted us differently. Therefore, in the Americas it's really complicated because we're talking about Spanish colonialism, French colonialism, Portuguese colonialism and really how the Dutch and the British also have impacted within this kind of now largely Anglo-American dominated culture. So within all that, we have indigenous people pushing for freedom all along. So in many ways this play between colonialism and freedom is kind of a key theme that we are tackling here."

Dr. Lacey Hunter says for her, this lecture series is about providing visibility and recognition of the diverse ethnic groups that exist across Black communities.

"But also it's about returning to the silence and giving folks safe space to talk them through. There's no better time then now. The topic is touchy. Many of us have been taught that we're all just one people within our groups, that we all have some degree of mixture. So the disparaging things we might say to people with the wrong mixture or the mixture that's deemed as lower or of less value, they are supposed to take that on as endearment or friendly gesture or joking. Those things really have harmful and long term effects and they have ripples that reach beyond our households and our communities. They do show up everywhere in our cultures. In a lot of ways this is about pointing some of those things out, giving people the tools and the language to understand them and then letting them hopefully get out there in their spheres of influence and generate good restorative conversations."

Today's guest speakers are:

Lorgia García Peña is a writer, activist and scholar who specializes in Latinx Studies with a focus on Black Latinidades. Her work is concerned with the ways in which antiblackness and xenophobia intersect the Global North producing categories of exclusion that lead to violence and erasure. Through her writing and teaching, Dr. García Peña insists on highlighting the knowledge, cultural, social and political contributions of people who have been silenced from traditional archives. She's one of the faculty founders of Freedom University down in Atlantic when Georgia started denying undocumented students the right to a public education.

Dr. Ariana A. Curtis is dedicated to building inclusive frameworks that disrupt systemic marginalization, misrepresentation, and erasure. She is the first curator of Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). In this role she leads museum research and collections that center Latinidad through an African American lens.

Nodia Mendez

Most important to me and linked to the experience of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation on the NYC/NJ border is the free community She has served as a cultural ambassador of Garifunas, African and Native American-descended people in the Caribbean/Honduras. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations at UNC Greensboro. In addition to having taught Spanish, she has taught Honors Colloquia as well as a seminar on Garifunas. She is a co-founder of the Afro-Latin American/Latinx Studies Project in the African-American and African Diaspora Studies Program at UNC Greensboro and co-authored the article “Garifunas in the African Diaspora” for the Carolina Peacemaker.

Tanya Katerí Hernández

Fordham University School of Law: Center on Race, Law & Justice

Tanya is an Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law and Associate Director & Head of Global and Comparative Law Programs and Initiatives.

Anti-Discrimination/ Equality Law, Implicit Bias, Comparative Civil Rights, Employment Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Critical Race Theory, Ethnic Studies, Latino Studies, Latin American Studies, Comparative Inheritance Law, and Trusts Wills & Estates.

The event will also be streamed via FaceBook live & Zoom, produced with Rutgers University TV.

The Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture (MTW) series was co-founded in 1981 by Rutgers University-Newark Professor Clement A. Price and Giles R. Wright of the New Jersey Historical Commission who launched the series with the belief that the rigorous exploration of the past, made accessible to a broad public of learners, would help guide the nation into a brighter future. The conference is named in honor of a native of East Orange. Marion Thompson Wright was arguably the first black female professional historian and a pioneer in Black New Jersey historiography. In her honor, the series brings outstanding thinkers and doers of African and African American life and history. Diverse, civically engaged, and devoted to life-long learners, the MTW Series is one of the nation’s most distinguished and longest-running lectures. The Clement A. Price Institute is devoted to building deep historical justice in our region and beyond.

You can SEE the entire interview with Dr. Jack Tchen and Dr. Lacey Hunter here.

Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 250 awards from organizations like PRNDI (now PMJA), AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.