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Although race and identity have always shaped U.S. politics, they became all the more pronounced in the past eight years in what was supposed to be Obama's post-racial America, manifesting as an unapologetic driver of Donald Trump's unexpected victory. But the re-energized racial animus that propelled Trump to the White House did not spring out of a vacuum. The crowd-pleasing candidate merely marshaled spirits unleashed half a century ago in what was a culmination of the so-called "Southern strategy," the Republicans' effort to push race and identity to the political forefront.

 

In this show, a panel of nationally known voices from across the political and racial spectrums examines the role of race in American politics and how antisemitism and islamophobia are driving waves of ethnic and religious-based strife in politics as well as in our everyday lives.

Panelists
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JUJU CHANG

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Juju Chang, co-anchor of ABC News’ Nightline, the iconic ABC News program that helped redefine broadcast journalism, has spent her decades-long career covering underrepresented and

marginalized communities, rewriting the national narrative to include oft-overlooked perspectives.

 

Reporting on interrelated issues from racial inequality and the rise of hate against Asian Americans to terrorism, natural disasters, mass shootings, and immigration, Chang has become one of the most prominent and recognizable Asian American voices in broadcast news. 

 

An immigrant from South Korea, Chang came to the United States with her family as a four-year-old, a part of the first wave of immigrants under the landmark 1965 Immigration Act, which facilitated Asian immigration by abolishing a quota system based on national origin and creating preferences based on attracting skilled labor. Settling in Northern California, she routinely was the only person who looked like her in class. “I felt different,” she recalled of her upbringing in a 2022 interview with The Los Angeles Times. “I felt other.”

 

These early experiences of marginalization have informed the Emmy award-winning journalist’s 36-year tenure at ABC News, influencing her commitment to amplifying diverse voices in her reporting and fostering conversations on race, inclusivity, and inequality. Chang joined ABC News as an entry level desk assistant in 1987 and rose to become a producer for World News Tonight, before becoming a news anchor for Good Morning America and eventually co-anchor of Nightline in 2014. 

 

In recent years, Chang has been a trailblazer for her exemplary in-depth reporting on the concerning surge in anti-Asian hate crimes. In the aftermath of the 2021 mass shooting that predominantly targeted Asian women at three spas, Chang co-anchored and reported from the scene for the ABC breaking news special “Murder In Atlanta”, which was the only network program to devote a full prime time hour to the story. Later that year, she co-anchored an ABC News Live special, “Stop The Hate: The Rise In Violence Against Asian Americans,” using her platform to turn the tragedy into a galvanizing event, sparking dialogue and efforts to combat discrimination and prejudice.

 

In addition to her wave-making journalism, Chang co-founded the Korean American Community Foundation, which provides grants and support to nonprofit groups serving Korean American individuals and families who are under-resourced. Her work has been recognized with multiple Emmys and Gracie awards, along with Peabody, DuPont, and Murrow awards.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT

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Amid worldwide rise in anti-Semitism, Jonathan Greenblatt has become a household name as a passionate voice calling for social justice and combating the spread of hate speech.

 

The director for the last eight years of the Anti-Defamation League, one of the oldest civil rights organizations in the country, Greenblatt has led the organization to the forefront of the battle for equality and civil rights.

 

Under his leadership, the ADL, which was founded in 1913, has moved onto the front lines of the culture war — increasing its tracking of extremists and hate groups, growing its education programs, and becoming outspoken about the ways in which social media has insidiously become what Greenblatt refers to as a “superspreader of hate.” But it is his ongoing battle with media tycoons, especially Elon Musk, the owner of X, the social media company formerly known as Twitter, who has allowed the platform to become a center of hate speech and repeatedly has posted anti-Semitic remarks, that has attracted the biggest headlines. 

 

The grandson of a Holocaust survivor from Germany, Greenblatt has warned how easy it is to scapegoat groups and brand them enemies of the state, the forerunners of authoritarianism. “We’ve seen antisemitism normalized in ways that would have been unimaginable a few years ago,” Greenblatt told The New York Times earlier this year. “If people see conspiracies behind every misfortune, it doesn’t take long for them to look at the Jews and say they’re the problem.”

 

America, he cautions, isn’t immune to fascism. 

 

While Greenblatt and the ADL have been lauded for their social justice work, they also have been criticized as advocates for Israel, overtly hostile to Palestinians and eager to tar even legitimate disapproval of Zionism and Israel as anti-semitic.  At the ADL’s annual leadership summit in the Spring of 2023, Greenblatt attacked organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, which protest against Israel on America’s college campuses, and referred to them on Twitter as “the photo inverse of the Extreme Right.”

 

Prior to joining the ADL in 2015, Greenblatt served in the White House as special assistant to President Barack Obama and director of the Office of Social Innovation. In addition to his work in the public sector, he has had a long career in business, founding Ethos Brands, All For Good as well as an executive at REALTOR.com and Starbucks. Greenblatt has served as an adjunct faculty member at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA and as a senior fellow at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

MARC MORIAL

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Whenever there has been a watershed civil rights moment in the past 20 years, Marc Morial has been there. 

 

The president of the National Urban League since 2003, Morial has modernized the sprawling civil rights advocacy organization, leading record fund raising drives and expanding its operations to serve 2 million people a year. 

 

As the leader of historic organization, which was founded in 1910, Morial is both a crucial player in the modern civil rights movement and one of its leading spokesmen. He repeatedly has testified in Congress on a broad array of issues – including housing, policing, and economic equity - and regularly appears on cable news.

 

Before taking over the Urban League, Morial served for eight years as New Orleans’ mayor. His tenure was defined by efforts to build bridges across the city’s diverse cultures and to reform the city’s police force. When he was elected in 1994, violent crime and police corruption were among the worst in America. By the time he completed his second term, a series of inititiaves led the crime rate to plummet by 62%, a success that led to his 2015 appointment to President Obama’s Special Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 

 

Since his time as Mayor, Morial’s leadership philosophy has been to form a “Gumbo Coalition,” which he describes as bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and talents to form a stronger whole. It was this multicultural base that reelected him with nearly 80% of the vote and propelled him to become president of the US Conference of Mayors from 2001-2002. 

 

“Creating gumbo as it relates to leadership is about building a coalition of unique ingredients or communities, each with unique skills, points of view, and flavors, each crucial in its own way,” he writes in his 2020 book, The Gumbo Coalition. “Creating gumbo requires the power and benefits of diversity.”


In 2022, HBO released a documentary of the same name that focused on his and other social justice leaders’ efforts to combat racism unleashed during Donald Trump’s presidency. He has been named Ebony magazine’s top 100 most influential Black Americans and has a plaque at the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

LINDA CHAVEZ

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Linda Chavez, who is now widely known as a staunch conservative, didn’t cast her first Republican vote until she was 33. 

 

Until then, she was a liberal Democrat who worked for the American Federation of Teachers. But she was inspired to switch parties by Ronald Reagan and, as the Director of the Office of Public Liaison, was the highest-ranking woman in his administration.

 

Born in 1947 in Albuquerque, Chavez is a descendent on her paternal side of a powerful colonial family that helped settle New Mexico in the early seventeenth century. The combination of her Latina heritage and her conservative views has made her a sought after voice on issues of race and immigration throughout her career, which has spanned politics, journalism, and public policy. 

 

Chavez has worked extensively in the public, nonprofit and business sectors, an influencer in the ongoing debate on the confluence of race, identity and individual responsibility in the American political landscape. The founder and chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think-tank focused on affirmative action, immigration, and bilingual education, Chavez is a vocal supporter of policies that encourage immigrant assimilation and a critic of affirmative action, which she argues undermines equal opportunity. But she blurs traditional party and ideological lines by bolstering immigration and supporting an overhaul of immigration policy as a senior fellow at the National Immigration Forum. 

 

“Hispanics—particularly those born here—are very much like other Americans,” she wrote in her 1991 book, Out of the Barrio, which argues for immigrant assimilation while simultaneously declaring immigration a human rights issue. “They work hard, support their own families without outside assistance, have more education and higher earnings than their parents, and own their own homes. In short, they are pursuing the American Dream—with increasing success.”

 

Chavez contends that the emphasis in political discourse on systemic inequality and racism is pernicious: “There are going to be disparities and inequities in any society, but I think jumping to the conclusion that race is always the single factor that’s responsible for those inequities is wrong,” she said in a 2021 interview with the Niskanen Center. “I do not believe that we are a country that is deeply racist.”

 

In addition to her role as White House Director of Public Liaison in the Reagan administration, Chavez has held numerous appointed positions including: chairman of the National Commission on Migrant Education; Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and member of the Administrative Conference of the United States. Chavez was also the 1986 Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland. In 1992, she was elected by the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission to serve a four-year term as U.S. Expert to the U.N. Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

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