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Author of Deep Denial, David Billings, to Speak

In co-operation with Bradley University, the author of Deep Denial, David Billings, will speak at North Branch on Monday, January 22 at 11:00 a.m.

Mississippi native David Billings’ recent book, Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life, has won the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the Current Events/Social Change category. Billings, an historian and organizer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, has worked for half a century in the struggle for racial justice. Deep Denial — part popular history, part personal memoir — documents the 400-year racialization of the U.S. and explains why “we remain a nation hard-wired by race.”

In a PBS Newshour interview in 2016, Billings said, ““In this country people can just define racism anyway they want,” he says. “We say ‘no.’ You got to have a definition where it impacts where your organization is going. It has to include your race’s relationship to power in this country.”

Billings acknowledges that his own power stems from being a white man in a nation that he says was designed to benefit him above others. But as America becomes more diverse and the demand for equal opportunity grows, “some white people are feeling that we are not benefiting as much as we should,” he said. It’s a psychological dynamic he describes in his upcoming book, Deep Denial.

“Down deep in us, even for those of us who voted for President Obama or have colleagues that are part of our organization, there’s a degree to which we feel whites should be running things,” he says. “And when there isn’t, we get upset about it.”

Rev. Billings is an ordained United Methodist minister. He also is an historian with a special interest in the history of race and racism. Billings’ organizing work has been cited for many awards including the Westchester County chapter of the National Association of Social Workers “Public Citizen of the Year,” the New Orleans Pax Christi “Bread and Roses” award; the Loyola University of New Orleans “Homeless and Hunger Award”; the 2010 Martin Luther King Social Justice Award from the New Orleans Jazz Foundation; and the National Alliance against Racist Oppression’s Angela Davis Award for community service. He was the Whitney Young 2006 lecturer at the Westchester County NASW symposium.

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