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Christopher  Parker

Christopher Parker

Professor & Author


Professor Christopher Sebastian Parker is an expert on the ways in which race and racism impact Western democracies. In doing so, he challenges conventional explanations for the persistence of racism, while explaining the nature of the movements that have proven capable of making social progress. As a world-renowned social scientist, he approaches his research with a theoretical and empirical rigor beyond the reach of pundits and provocateurs. His presentations will illustrate why we’re in the current political moment in which democracy is imperiled in the West, especially in the United States. Along the way, you’ll learn why Trump won the presidency, why his party refuses to hold him accountable, and why he’ll likely win again unless Democrats get their collective act together. Parker will also outline how Democrats can win. Why should you listen to Professor Parker? Beyond the fact that he’s a world-renown scholar, he was one of a tiny number of experts who predicted Trump’s victory. Read More >

Dr. Christopher Sebastian Parker is a professor of political science at the University of Washington, and is the author of two award-winning books on the intersection of race, democracy, and social movements. His first book, Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans and the Struggle Against White Supremacy in the Postwar South (Princeton University Press, 2009), won the Ralph J. Bunche Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA) for the best scholarly work in political science that explores the phenomenon of ethnic and cultural pluralism. Dr. Parker’s second book, Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America (Princeton University Press, 2014), won the best book award from the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics section of APSA. He’s currently at work on two additional books. One is, The Great White Hope: Donald Trump, Race, and the Crisis of American Democracy (forthcoming, University of Chicago Press); the other is, This is America: Patriotism and (white) Nationalism, from Reconstruction to Donald Trump.

Dr. Parker finished cum laude at UCLA, after which he went on to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in political science. Dr. Parker has appeared on MSNBC, PBS, and the History Channel. His research has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, The New Republic, Talking Points Memo, and Salon.com. He’s written pieces for the Washington Post, CNN.com, and the Brookings Institution, among other places. Professor Parker has also lectured on race and democracy throughout western and central Europe, as well as Australia and Canada. A veteran of the armed forces, Professor Parker resides in Seattle with his dog Brooklyn, where he is a professor in the department of political science at the University of Washington. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

The Great White Hope: Donald Trump, Race & the Crisis of American Democracy

The election of Donald Trump caught many surprise. As a nominee of a major party, he displayed a level of political ignorance unparalleled in recent memory. Further, he won the White House with the type of race-baiting not seen since George Wallace’s unsuccessful campaign in the 1960s. How does one account for his victory? Further, what are the implications, if any, for American democracy? Does the “resistance” even have a chance? Read More >

Dr. Parker’s analysis challenges the conventional understanding of Trump’s unlikely victory, that economic anxiety is responsible for his presidency. By linking Trump’s triumph to reactionary movements of the past, Dr. Parker shows that the outcome of the latest presidential contest is simply an extension of a long-running narrative that began with the Know Nothing Party of the 19th Century, and the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. Like these reactionary movements of the past, Trump’s movement is fueled by a sense of existential threat: the belief that “real American” culture is under siege.  Dr. Parker then lays out how the “resistance” may prevail in the coming election cycles. Read Less ^

This is America

How does one even begin to explain the stunning frequency with which race and racism intrudes on American life? It seems as if every time racial progress occurs, racial regress always follows in its wake. For instance, we went from Reconstruction to Jim Crow; from school desegregation to massive resistance; from electing Barack Obama to electing Donald Trump. Why do we observe this pattern? Will racial equality remain so elusive? Read More >

In this lecture, This is America, Dr. Christopher Sebastian Parker discusses why America refuses to make good on the promise of universal democracy, but how it’s possible to break this pattern. Dr. Parker illustrates how racial progress is generally tied to war and patriotism, and how racial regress is a reaction to racial progress. He discusses why racial progress triggers racial regression: racial progress is believed subversive to some whites, a threat to their racial group privilege. Dr. Parker, however, makes the case that the solution this pattern has been with all the time: patriotism. This is not the patriotism claimed by the right. Rather, it’s the patriotism claimed by Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Ulysses S. Grant, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Read Less ^