Chat & Chowder with Theodore R. Johnson | When the Stars Begin to Fall


July 14


06:00 pm - 07:00 pm

Event Category:

Chat & Chowder

WorldBoston’s Chat & Chowder features key authors on international affairs in an engaging setting. Even virtually, the spirit of Chat & Chowder persists! We encourage everyone to BYOCB (Bring Your Own Chow(der) & Beverages), and also to join us for the informal post-Chat Chat with WorldBoston members and other friends (separate Zoom link will be provided). Longtime and first-time chatters alike are welcome!

When the Stars Begin To Fall makes a compelling, ambitious case for a pathway to the national solidarity necessary to mitigate racism. Weaving memories of his own and his family’s multi-generational experiences with racism, alongside strands of history, into his elegant narrative, Johnson posits that a blueprint for national solidarity can be found in the exceptional citizenship long practiced in Black America. Understanding that racism is a structural crime of the state, he argues that overcoming it requires us to recognize that a color-conscious society—not a color-blind one—is the true fulfillment of the American Promise.

Black America’s long history with racism has resulted in a solidarity that has sustained it through the horrors of slavery, the violence of Jim Crow, and the challenge of accepting incremental gains even as they fall far short of the American Promise. The superlative citizenship that has buttressed Black solidarity is in itself a strong model for the national version essential to mitigating racism. At the same time, Johnson argues, the state will only act against racism when it perceives this to be in its best interest.

With our nation polarized and divided, Johnson’s belief in the possibility of suppressing racism is both urgent and, indeed, radical. Fueled by his ultimate faith in the American project, grounded in his family’s longstanding optimism and his own military service, When the Stars Begin To Fall is a clarion call to undertake the process of overcoming what has long seemed intractable.

Theodore R. Johnson is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Fellows Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, where he undertakes research on race, politics, and American identity. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, he was a National Fellow at New America and a Commander in the United States Navy, serving for twenty years in a variety of positions, including as a White House Fellow in the first Obama administration and as speechwriter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His work on race relations has appeared in prominent national publications across the political spectrum, including the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and National Review, among others.

Learn more about Theodore Johnson on his website here.


Following the presentation and Q&A with the author, please join us for our post-Chat Chat, an informal forum in which participants can discuss their thoughts on the topic of the event. For this post-Chat Chat, we are delighted to be joined by Lt. Colonel Enoch Woodhouse, Boston native, and a Tuskegee Airman.

The Zoom link to join the post-Chat Chat will be provided during the Chat & Chowder webinar.

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