Rick Kittles

Rick Kittles, professor at UIC spoke of identity, genetics, and of course, the touchy subject of race.  He did not stray away from mentioning racial stereotypes or speaking about the hard history of slavery at all.  Because of his own personal background and the fact that Africa has the most biological diversity in terms of ancestry, this presentation was very focused on African American ancestry and genetics.  I was most impressed with the audience.  Even after attending only two Chicago Humanities Festival events, I noticed that the crowd at such events tended to be elderly, caucasian men and women.  I really respect such elderly people who are still looking to further their understanding and pay money to learn about new findings in science and the humanities.  At this event in particular, I was surprised with how well the older, predominantly white audience listened to and went along with Kittle’s fast pace. As a college professor, it was clear that he was used to speaking to a younger class.  

Kittles spoke about the mixing of races and how people are no longer simply black and white.  As a person of mixed race myself, I could really identify with this message. However, I was slightly irked that even though he alluded to the diversity of race and the spectrum being more than black and white, he only ever mentioned African American people, caucasian people and native american people in his speech. There was no mention of east asian people or middle eastern people throughout his presentation.  Overall, I really appreciated his humor and simplicity in explaining complicated, genetic concepts.

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