“Racism is an existential threat to America,” Theodore R. Johnson declares at the start of his new book, When the Stars Begin to Fall. That racism continues to corrode our society is a refutation of the American Promise, enshrined in our Constitution, which holds that all people are inherently equal. Weaving memories of his and his family’s multi-generational experiences with racism, alongside strands of history, Johnson lays out the case that national solidarity is the path toward diminishing racism, and 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.
Johnson discusses his faith in the American project and an urgent call to overcome what has long seemed intractable.
This event is produced in partnership with The New York Public Library.