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Randall Kennedy on Race: “Say It Loud!”

Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law professor and author of a collection of essays entitled “Say It Loud! On Race, Law, History, and Culture” joins us for the full hour to talk about his views on race, class, corporatism, Clarence Thomas, the “n-word,” racial optimism versus racial pessimism, and much more.

Randall Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School and Trustee emeritus of Princeton University. He is the author of Say it Loud! On Race, Law, History, and CultureFor Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the LawThe Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency, and Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal.

One of the things that racism has done throughout American history… it’s been very effective as diversion. Diverting people from looking at their circumstances and focusing on something else. Focusing on these other people. Very often, these other people of color. And pointing a finger and saying, “That’s the problem over there.”

Randall Kennedy, author of Say It Loud: On Race, Law, History, and Culture

In the last election, there was a real fear as to whether there would be a peaceful handover of power. And, of course, it wasn’t really altogether peaceful. January 6th happened. And you’re talking about impunity, well look at that. There was an attempted insurrection. Some of the little people are being prosecuted. But… are the bigger fish going to pay the cost? Are the bigger fish going to be held to account? The answer is probably, and very unfortunately, sadly, disgracefully, the answer is no. Our country is in peril.

Randall Kennedy, author of Say It Loud: On Race, Law, History, and Culture


Here’s a newspaper [the New York Times] that has neglected all kinds of brutal exploitation in the city itself. Its metropolitan page on Sunday is a farce– it’s thin and it doesn’t really tell you what’s going on in New York City. What the developers are doing. What the payday loan racketeers are doing. What the areas of food deserts are doing. What the lack of adequate health care, the lack of adequate police protection in poor areas, for example, the discriminatory distribution of firehouses [are doing]… and on and on and on. And so, I’m saying, “What’s the New York Times doing?” They’ve got this slick insert– the magazine, maybe 100 pages– selling clothing and other accessories that no one but the top one or two percent could even afford.

Ralph Nader


  1. Kay Brown says:

    Your program saves my sanity! Thank you so much. Like to hear more about the formation of NEW CIVIC INSTITUTIONS. The Gray Panthers should be strong again. Best Regards.

  2. Kay Brown says:

    Build CITIZENS not Customers!

  3. Margaret Walsh says:

    good evening from camplunalinda ..


    in discussions with my young bus driver ..
    2 years ago he was listening to the dribble ..
    the saturation radio .. Limbaugh, all of them.. all day ..
    AND he was open to listening to me ..
    basically ‘i really don’t know”

    this week he accused me of trespassing ..
    re-introducing himself as a “conservative republican” ..

    i think he asked me “do you believe BLACK LIVES MATTER ?
    i responded ALL LIVES MATTER ..

    no point in fine tuning that with him ..

    i was able to remind him ..
    i know you ..
    we have talked for 2 years ..
    you are a smart guy ..

    it is okay to change the channel ..
    his fear of missing something has increased ..
    i encouraged ..
    it is fun to listen to SCIENCE FRIDAY ..
    on the new station broadcast from the new Tech High school ..
    the new station offers BBC .. Talk of the Nation .. etc ..
    the old and still active NPR played Classical music all day ..
    (while Rome Burned)
    did he remember watching it? ..
    you know that TV show when he was a kid?
    with the science guy ?
    he remembered the guy .. ..
    Bill Nye the Science Guy ..
    he did like Bill Nye the Science Guy ..

    $2.00 club works ..
    i work it ..

    BLACK LIVES MATTER as banner flew high and wide ..
    everyone knew what it meant ..

    i suppose that some feared that it meant “we don’t matter” ..
    that fear was exploited ..
    it is still used effectively as a rally to concretize that fear ..

    gratefully everything changes ..
    sometimes slowly sometimes quickly ..

  4. Barbara Davis says:

    Thank you Ralph, Steven and David. Great show! I listen every week on my local public radio station and possibly grow a few more brain cells as a result of these enlightening discussions. I will forward this particular show to my book club, furthering the discussion. Big Thanks!

  5. NooN says:

    A BIG TEAM “Thank YoU” Steve, Dave, Jimmy Lee, HannaH & Corporate Crime Reporter Russell who Turn oN 0uR Lights so we See a Path to circumvent or Open the Door to the Mountain of RoadBlocks purposefully & strategically placed in our way.

    Since Our535 Public Elected instruments, that we obviously share with private corporate banking interests, do N0T Represent “0uR Basic Needs”
    or “What we ask to be billed for” I love Hearing any Interpretation & Application of “R” Public Rites,
    so we can “0pen “R” EyEs” & “Raise “R” Voices
    Like a ChoiR” & “Truly Practically, a TeaM”.

    I love the You g Group Of Aides In Congress.
    I wish investigations of every congressperson (if they signed contracts of allegiance with any corporations or countries.) I wish to Unseat the War Mongers, InSide Traders & Contracted Traiders. Again, “Blessings for Hopefully one day, PRESIDENT RALPH NADER & His Educated, EthicaL & Responsible Team of NADERS RAIDERS.⚖️

    There is an 0ld Song:
    “The Old will Dream New Dreams
    The Young will See a Mighty Vision”
    0 Lord We Pray, for Peace Today
    We Pray the World a 0ne World NatioN;
    We Pray for Peace as 0uR SalvatioN.”

  6. Demetrio says:

    David Feldman is a Maoist in disguise. His contemp for free speech as heard hear and other shows is despicable. Nader should dump him.

    • Thomas M says:

      Someone had to say this. But, I like the way Ralph handles the situation and reminds David about the consequences of his line of thinking.
      Calm and cool, that’s our Ralph. Appreciations to all of the crew at the Radio Hour.

  7. Nancy Camargo says:

    Hello, and warm thanks to you, Ralph, Steve, David, Russell, and everyone who works so hard to create the Nader Radio Hour. I have listened every week since I found your program.

    The episodes that interested me most were the ones about Medicare Advantage. My eyes were opened when I realized the corporate for-profit nature of my Medicare (dis)Advantage health plan.

    The program about Steve Donziger, the attorney who won the case in Equador against Chevron, and has been suffering seriously for it, motivated me to write to Merrick Garland to suggest intervention.

    You might be interested to know that Michael Moore had Steve Donziger on his podcast, and told Steve to lay out the story in detail, which he did. He said what he wants is letters or calls to Merrick Garland to request that a public prosecutor be appointed in his case, in order to free him of the biased private prosecutor that is involved with Chevron, so he can be in a position to appeal his case.

    Congratulations on your Congress Club. I think this is a great idea! I’m sorry that only members are invited to meetings. I think it would be valuable to invite anyone unable to join to attend and observe, since such a process sounds educational. I hope you will consider this.

    Many interesting programs keep me coming back each week, and I really enjoy the wrap up. Thanks to you all!

  8. David Faubion says:

    Thank you, Ralph and company for yet another core consumer issue that, like war and violence, we as a body politic had not recognized as such. Nevertheless, Marx and his progeny have long seen racism as a central capitalist ploy, a tool that keeps on giving them obscene profit and hegemony at the expense of entire populations of indigenous. Professor Randall Kennedy calling racism a distraction is more support for the idea of racism as a commercial consumer offering, a kind of ‘wafer and wine’ enlisting legions of the confused, traumatized victims of the warped ideology that is domination and submission.
    I see the reality of–all lives matter–as a spiral model. At the core is the fact that all lives matter–all life is matter and as such it–life–is sacred, which behooves us to preserve it, to cherish all life, and lift up each life unequivocally. That’s why animal rights and species preservation movements are so crucial. Indeed, –all things matter–as all things have emerged from our great cosmic big bang, what some of us call the ‘cosmic spiraling of creation.’ Thus, in truth, ‘nothing matters’ too. History and our ancestors are a ‘nothingness’ resource for our edification and renewal. So too is the ‘nothingness’ that is the future with which we have glimpses of but likely an ephemera since too many of us cannot or will not get beyond the ancient king of our doom–war, violence, and racism. Please, let us take back –All Lives Matter, true religion, and science from the traumatized victims of extremist exchange. Yeah, Bob Dylan is right when he sings,
    You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend
    When I was down you just stood there grinnin’
    You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you got a helping hand to lend
    You just want to be on the side that’s winnin’

  9. Instead of indicting “white” supremacy, Randall, of course, like so makes black men in positions where a majority of their colleagues are “white.” They talk around issues and try to both sides, obvious, lop-sided issues where there is a clear power dynamic. But, he works at Harvard, and wouldn’t want to make his “white” colleagues feel uncomfortable about their elitist racism.
    “Racial ” affirmative action? What do you think the GI BIll and The FHA loans were? The federal govt. built the white middle-class courtesy of racial affirmative action. Blacks were excluded.

  10. Milquetoast and way off the reality of ground truthing. Two Harvard grads talking to each other. Nader is good, but this fellow, come on — Law School professor? Good old Obama, why not, POTUS.

    People go berserk? Why? — Not exactly smart and cutting edge. Great to be tenure track and yakking wasted stuff.

    Now we are talking about which words work best? Well well. Negro versus Black. Linguistic fashion? Everything about the “law,” the rule of law, is all about linguistic fashion. The worst profession in the world, law.

    Then, Nader, well he doesn’t get it, either. White supremacy is in the blood of poor, dirt poor or gold rich. It even ends up in the people of color. Supremacy.

    So, Nader is upset with the youth, about their “super sensitivity”? Is he not understanding what the elites do with Holly-Dirt, Mass Marketing, the Dead K12 system, and the Media and the entire brain research in the billions on what will pull down each next generation.

    Harvard, a sexist place? Come on. I respect much of what Nader writes, and I worked for his campaigns as a Marxist, since I thought Nader would be a bridge.

    A new twist on this young generation — upset with language? Do you get it? Do you understand how the rich and elites have utilized cultural wars to foment this sensitivity?

    Read Cory Morningstar, Whitney Webb, Ben Norton, Alan McLeod, Max Blumenthal. Go to Mint Press, Grayzone. Aaron Mate? Come on.

    We do not need law schools, we do not need POTUS and we do not need this bull crap. This fellow needs to stick to his classroom. Harvard, the bastion of Oligarchs, elites, the rich, the connected, the destroyers of earth.