There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
You’d think that after the shitstorm that Lani Guinier faced nine years ago, when then-President Clinton nominated her to be assistant attorney general for civil rights, she’d never want to set foot in Washington again, let alone to talk about racial politics. To brush up: In ’93, Guinier’s enemies branded her a “quota queen” who favored segregating blacks into black-majority districts and believed that only “authentic” blacks could represent African-Americans. Anyone who didn’t read past the headlines probably doesn’t know that Guinier’s views were misrepresented. So much so that if you listen to Guinier talk about the book she co-authored, The Miner’s Canary, you might be surprised to hear her advocate—gasp!—the notion of people of different races and ethnicities working together for common goals. Guinier, now a law professor at Harvard, and Gerald Torres, a law professor at the University of Texas, have spun a novel social theory out of this simple idea, proposing a new concept of race called “political race.” Not catchy-sounding, but the idea boils down to embracing the notion that race is a social and political construct, and that a race can be a group of people who have many of the same interests, but not necessarily the same skin color. Guinier and Torres write: “There are many more ‘black’ people in America than can be accounted for using ordinary definitions.” The two hope that by redefining race, they can further interracial cooperation. Maybe now Guinier will finally lose the “quota queen” label. She appears at 7 p.m. Friday, April 12, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Annys Shin)