Marc Lamont Hill encourages talk about race at Reading Terminal ‘beer summit'

Marc Lamont Hill, a Columbia prof and Daily News columnist, talks race during the fourth-annual Beer Summit on race relations at Reading Terminal. YONG KIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Marc Lamont Hill, a Columbia prof and Daily News columnist, talks race during the fourth-annual Beer Summit on race relations at Reading Terminal. YONG KIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Posted: August 03, 2012

Marc Lamont Hill thinks that people are too tight-lipped when it comes to discussing race.

So, on Wednesday night he turned to a surefire method of loosening lips: free beer.

Hill — a Philadelphia native, a professor at Columbia University and a Daily News columnist — was the featured speaker at the fourth-annual MLK365 Beer Summit, a microbrew-lubricated forum on race relations in the Reading Terminal Market.

"We've been seduced into thinking that race talk is over," said Hill. "There's nothing wrong about identifying race."

The forum, which drew about 150 people, is hosted by Global Citizen, a Philadelphia nonprofit that promotes intercommunity dialogue. Philadelphia Brewing Co. supplied the beer, which included Kenzinger and Walt Wit.

The event mimics the "beer summit" held by President Obama at the White House in 2009, after black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his own house by a white police officer who mistakenly thought that the prof was breaking into his own house.

While the official topic on Wednesday was "Understanding Race in the Age of Obama," the open discussion covered a range of topics.

Robert Carter, 60, a black man from West Philadelphia, suggested that part of the problem facing African-Americans is self-hatred caused by black-on-black violence.

"A young man got killed a couple days ago on my brother's block, 18-years-old, and he was killed by another African-American male," said Carter, who goes by Brother Robb. "It just reverberated in me, the fear that I have, as a father and as a grandfather, for African-American males. We have a tremendous amount of self-hate."

A self-described "garden-variety white guy" said he wants to be more racially sensitive but sometimes feels excluded by the black community.

A Philadelphia woman said that she used to talk more openly about race but is criticized for inserting it too often into circumstances at her workplace.

And Hill, who consistently appears on the cable-news circuit, argued that the "post-racial" society many thought America could become after Obama's election can never exist.

"I don't want to live in a world that's post-racial," he said. "I want to live in a world that's post-racist."

After finishing a speech about the "seductiveness of whiteness," Hill picked up his beer and said, "Have you all tried the white ale?"

Contact Sean Collins Walsh at 215-285-5281 or email him at walshse@phillynews.com.

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