Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Catching up with: Gregory Rodriguez, 2009 CFM Lecturer

On Dec. 9, 2009, over 150 people trudged through a chill evening to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to hear LA Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez speak on “the new mainstream”—the growing Latino population of the U.S. which, as CFM explored in Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums, is most definitely not the current mainstream audience for museums. The recorded lecture was webcast the following January and viewed by over 1000 people around the globe and the discussion guide and reading list has been downloaded by over 1,900 users. The lecture is still timely, and is available on the CFM YouTube channel. The discussion guide and other related resources are available on the CFM website.

So what is Gregory up to now? You can catch up on his editorials for the LA Times including this essay on Pew’s recent research report on the current face of American immigration. “Once the cheering over this study, titled "The Rise of Asian America," has subsided,” Gregory speculates, “we might remember it as the dawn of a new era of anti-Asian bias.” In this time of growing concern over income disparity, the Pew research shows the median household income of Asian Americans is 33% higher than that of the general public. “invidious comparisons between groups are alive,” he warns, “they're stoked by economics and, though not particularly venomous in the U.S. right now, they have the potential to become dangerous under the wrong circumstances.” He concludes with a forecast, predicting we might hear calls for the end of highly skilled immigration from Asia, if Americans feel their jobs are at stake.

I also recommend you keep an eye on Zócalo Public Square, the “living magazine” Gregory founded, which he describes as “an innovative blend of on-the-ground events and on-line journalism.” Their site features full videos of speakers on diverse topics, including, most recently, New Republic senior editor Timothy Noah (author of The Great Divergence) discussing the effect the growing disparity of wealth might have on American society. At just under an hour, this commentary is definitely worth a listen as museums confront the New Gilded Age.

Gregory is also the founding director of the Center for Social Cohesion, dedicated to “studying the forces that shape our sense of social unity.” Their media page compiles recent essays by
Gregory and other fellows of the Center.

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