University of Pittsburgh
February 16, 2011

Pitt Lecture on Feb. 23 to Focus on “Common” Conversations About Race


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—Two Stanford University professors will deliver a presentation titled “Eight Conversations About Race and Ethnicity” at noon Feb. 23 in Pitt’s Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP), School of Social Work Conference Center, 20th floor, Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Registration is not required; lunch will be provided. For more information, call 412-624-7382 or visit 

The multimedia talk, by Stanford’s Hazel Markus, a professor of psychology, and Paula M. L. Moya, a professor of English, is part of the CRSP Reed Smith Spring 2011 Speaker Series. 

Markus and Moya will describe eight “common” conversations that people in the United States have as they attempt to make sense of events in which race and ethnicity figure prominently. According to the professors, some of those conversations may begin:

            “We’re beyond race . . . ”;

            “Race is in our DNA . . . ”;

            “Everyone’s a little bit racist . . .”; or

            “Racial diversity is killing us . . . ”


These conversations contain powerful, hidden, and flawed assumptions about the nature and meanings of race and ethnicity, say the researchers, who argue that framing new and more productive conversations requires a more developed understanding of race and ethnicity based on people’s actions. 

“Eight Conversations About Race and Ethnicity” is drawn from one section of the professors’ coauthored essay that introduces the book Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century (W.W. Norton 2010), of which Markus and Moya are coeditors. Doing Race is a compilation of essays by scholars who discuss race issues through the lens of everyday activities, like going to the doctor, renting an apartment, or listening to music. 

Markus is codirector of the Mind, Culture, and Research Lab in Stanford University’s Department of Psychology. The lab conducts research on how race, stigma, and stereotyping affect attitudes, perception, and behavior. Markus is a past director of both the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), and of the Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford. It provides opportunities for teaching and research on the topics of race and ethnicity. Markus’ own research is concerned with how gender, ethnicity, religion, social class, cohort, or region or country of national origin may influence thought and feeling. 

Moya has published essays on race and ethnicity, feminist theory, multicultural pedagogy, and Latino and Chicano literature and identity. She is a past director of the undergraduate program of CCSRE and chair of the CSRE major, and one of the founding organizers of the Future of Minority Studies research project, an interinstitutional mobile think tank that facilitates productive discussions about the role of higher education in a multicultural democracy. Moya is the author of Learning from Experience: Minority Identities, Multicultural Struggles (University of California Press, 2002).

CRSP’s annual Reed Smith Spring Speaker Series provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, and members of the community to engage in race-related discussions of mutual interest.