The American Consciousness

The American Consciousness

Imani Perry — The Fabric of Our Identity

Imani Perry — The Fabric of Our Identity

Imani Perry is a scholar of law, culture, race — and hip hop. She acknowledges wise voices who say that we will never get to the promised land of racial equality. She writes, “That may very well be true, but it also true that extraordinary things have happened and keep happening in our history. The question is, how do we prepare for and precipitate them?” We took her up on this emboldening question at the Chautauqua Institution, on the cusp of yet a new collective reckoning with the racial fabric of American life.


Richard Rodriguez — The Fabric of Our Identity

After September 11, 2001, Richard Rodriguez traveled to the Middle East to explore his kinship, as a Roman Catholic, with the men who stepped onto airplanes and turned them into weapons of terror. What he learned illuminates some of the deepest paradox and promise of the world we inhabit. He is an especially intriguing conversation partner for right now — a life and mind straddling left and right, religious and secular, immigrant and intellectual. At the Chautauqua Institution, we mine his wisdom on the emerging fabric of human identity.


Michel Martin — The Fabric of Our Identity

If journalism is a primary way we tell the story of ourselves and our time, Michel Martin is a person helping us tell that story — and take part in it — more completely. Her daily NPR program Tell Me More was often labeled as “diversity” or “minority” programming. But in fact, she and her journalism are about a more generous and realistic sweep of who we are now — and how we’re creating our life together anew. At the Chautauqua Institution, we mine her wisdom on the emerging fabric of human identity.


Nathan Schneider — The Fabric of Our Identity

There’s a kind of brilliance that flashes up in early adulthood: an ability to see the world whole. Nathan Schneider has been able to articulate and sustain that far-seeing eye of young adulthood. He’s also a gifted writer, chronicling the world he and his compatriots are helping to make — spiritual, technological, and communal. At the Chautauqua Institution, we explore the wisdom of a millennial generation public intellectual on the emerging fabric of human identity.

About the Project

Human identity is more fluid than ever before. How do we live gracefully in this moment of change, helping to shape it? How do we nurture common life, even as we are reinventing it? With Imani Perry, Richard Rodriguez, Michel Martin, and Nathan Schneider, we mine diverse wisdom on the emerging fabric of human identity.

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Imani Perry

is a professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University. Her scholarly books include Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop and More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States.



Richard Rodriguez

is a journalist and essayist. He won a Peabody Award for his original commentary on The NewsHour and received the National Humanities Medal in 1993. His books include Hunger Of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodríguez, Brown: The Last Discovery Of America, and Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography.



Michel Martin

is a journalist with NPR. She previously reported for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and ABC’s “Nightline.” She was the creator and host of the NPR program Tell Me More, which ran from 2007-2014.



Nathan Schneider

is a scholar-in-residence of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is the author of God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. He is a regular columnist for Vice magazine and America, the national Catholic weekly. He is currently co-editing a book on democratic business models for online platforms.

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