During the Frederick A. Shippey Lecture on April 4, Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, the James B. Duke Professor of Sociology at Duke University, gave a lecture titled “Feeling Race: The Social Significance of Racialized Emotions in Trump’s America.” At the beginning of the lecture, Doctor Bonilla-Silva highlighted a statement made by Mark Turnbull, the Managing Director of Cambridge Analytica, in which Turnbull declares, “There is no good fighting an election campaign on the facts because actually it is all about emotion.”
Throughout the lecture, Dr. Bonilla-Silva addressed, “Race and emotions in the Trump era.” He spoke about “racialized emotions” and how President Trump has used emotional rhetoric to appeal to the public and further his political agenda. He discussed numerous statements made by the president which demonstrate his enigmatic use of language through which his nationalistic beliefs are illuminated. Bonilla-Silva also discussed the normalization of what he termed as racist, demeaning and outright incorrect remarks the president has made and how that has influenced the political culture of the United States. Throughout the lecture, Bonilla-Silva connected his examples to contemporary politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice and Kamala Harris.
As for Bonilla-Silva’s background, he achieved both his master’s degree and his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He had the privilege of serving as President of the Southern Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association from 2017 to 2018. He has published five books; the one specific to this particular lecture is “Racism without Racists.” Some of his other works are “White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era” and “Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States.” His work is renowned in the academic field, and he has tackled a variety of topics such as racial theory, color-blind racism and many other important concepts.
This lecture left the audience with plenty of food for thought. Bonilla-Silva expounded upon many profound structural racial issues which resonated with the audience. When asked her thoughts about the lecture, one student, Virginia Leach (‘20), described the lecture as “great” and said she was able to speak with Bonilla-Silva prior to the lecture. She mentioned that during that time she enjoyed discussing the multifacetedness of the issue. She explained, “[I]t is not just a racial struggle, but it is a class and gender struggle, all of the things we say are important but do not put into practice.” This was Bonilla-Silva’s closing message — that racism is not a simple, easily fixable issue, but rather complex. Bonilla-Silva stressed that it is time for people to take action, instead of allowing the topic to slowly be deleted from their mind.