The Ethics of Now

The Ethics of Now is a series of conversations between Duke historian Adriane Lentz-Smith and a range of artists, advocates, and authors that explore the ethical challenges facing the Durham and Duke communities.

2019-20 SERIES




The southern border has loomed large in the contemporary American imagination as landscape, lifeline, weapon, and metaphor. Drawn from his own experiences, Francisco Cantú’s account of policing that border starkly depicts how fully the current system dehumanizes migrants, agents, and those of us who do not demand a better way.




Kiese Laymon does not dissemble. By turns raw, real, fantastical, and funny, his memoirs and fiction articulate the slow death of living amidst state violence and the poetic transcendence of managing to keep on keeping on nonetheless. Personal but public, his writing speaks to and for all of us.




Media critic Anita Sarkeesian’s clarity during GamerGate and after have made us more reflective but have also garnered her death threats and ongoing harassment. With a powerful mix of intellectual insight and striking courage, Sarkeesian illuminates how the virtual becomes the real. She brings a critic’s eye to the video game industry and shows how sexism in popular culture has repercussions in everyday life and politics. Read more here.





With cutting-edge and vital research, Jennifer Eberhardt teaches us how our brains work and how racism does its work. By illuminating how we unconsciously associate blackness and crime, and by working with law enforcement agencies to disrupt those associations, she shows us that the problems with the criminal justice system are ones we created and ones we can solve. Read more here.





Reading Tayari Jones feels like hearing someone who knows you well giving voice to thoughts you did not even know you had. Unflinching but compassionate, she brings a deep humanity to our conversations about structural inequity and a generosity to our understandings of ourselves and each other. Read more here.



Ethics of Now with Tommy Orange, Friday August 30th, 7PM, Durham Arts Council


To read Tommy Orange is to contend with histories that, as he puts it, “run counter to the way the American narrative has been told.” In There, There he opts for brutal honesty over comforting fictions and empathy over complacency. In so doing, he offers Native Americans and all Americans a means of healing the wounds of the past and present. Read more here.




2018-19 SERIES

ethics of now Nikole Hannah-Jones

Read about the event here.

ethics of now James Forman

Read about the event here.

ethics of now Reece Jones

Read about the event here.

ethics of now Annise Parker

Read about the event here.

ethics of now Marlon James 3_cf

Read about the event here.