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Dr. Larry Davis

“Why Are They Angry with Us?”: A Discussion on Race and Racism in America

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“We have to take a long term perspective of ourselves. At some point, I realized that we wouldn’t solve [racism] in my lifetime. I am just a soldier. I am just a part of a long history of people who have addressed this issue, and it is my job to do my part: to do as much as I can to further the cause, but it won’t get solved during my lifetime, and the next generation, it probably won’t get solved during theirs. . . We are part of a movement that is greater than ourselves.”

Dr. Larry Davis

In this episode, Dr. Larry Davis engages in a wide-ranging discussion on race and racism in America. The topics he addresses include his use of cognitive dissonance theory to understand racism and racist behavior. He explores how implicit racism affects all members of American society and defines a concept he refers to as “relative deprivation.” Dr. Davis also explains why multiculturalism is insufficient as the principal method of addressing racism.

Larry E. Davis, PhD, is the Dean of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is the Donald M. Henderson Professor and also the director of the Center on Race and Social Problems. He earned his master’s in social work and master’s in psychology from the University of Michigan. He was the first African-American to earn a PhD from the dual-degree program in social work and psychology at the University of Michigan. Having completed field work in one of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods, his academic life has been dedicated to the creation of solution-based dialogues that promote a more racially equitable society. He was the first African-American in any discipline to be awarded tenure at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a professor of social work and psychology and the holder of the E. Desmond Lee Chair in Ethnic and Racial Diversity. Dr. Davis is the founder and leader of REAP, a consortium of race, ethnicity, and poverty centers from across the United States. He is also the founder and chairman of the editorial board of the Race and Social Problems journal, Springer Publications. Dr. Davis has long been recognized as a leading scholar of the narrative about race in America and its role in social justice. He has written, edited, or co-authored seven books. His latest book, Why Are They Angry With Us: Essays on Race, is his most personal book, touching on themes of racial identity, internalized racism, and the legacy of slavery.

Interviewer: Nancy Smyth, PhD

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