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Varnum Diversity Series Features Documentary about Race

September 18, 2015

"Race – The Power of an Illusion" will be the focus of Varnum's fall diversity series for staff and attorneys. The program focuses on the award-winning PBS Ford Foundation documentary that explores race in society, science and history.

The three-hour documentary details the historic, legal and social constructs that have developed over time and that consciously and unconsciously affect attitudes and society. The Varnum series will include three sessions at each office, including a discussion session focusing on each office's individual community.

"Varnum's Diversity and Inclusion Committee is very pleased to bring this powerful program to the firm," said attorney Joy Fossel who chairs the committee and coordinates the firm's internal and external diversity and inclusion initiatives. "Many of us probably do not realize that 'race' is a fairly recent construct and that many of our common assumptions about race are a function of social sciences rather than biology."

Among other things, the documentary examines:

  • The roots of race in North America, the 19th Century "science" that came to justify it, and its use to justify the inequalities imposed by the legal structure in the U.S. at the time.
  • The now-defunct concept that race is biological. The film explores how the idea of race primarily resides in politics, economics and culture.

Varnum has a long tradition of holding internal awareness programs around the topic of diversity and inclusion, in addition to its support of community diversity initiatives.

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