We can feel the tectonic shifts occurring in our country’s civic life—where the once unthinkable specter of political violence isn’t as unimaginable as it once was, where too many of us think of fellow citizens as direct threats to us, and where what were once durable institutional guardrails simply are not holding. So, now, this is on us—we must come to better understand the dynamics of identity-based group violence and the actions each of us can take to move our society in a different direction. To do so requires digging deeply into the emotional landscape behind conflict – understanding dynamics such as fear, threat, and belonging.
We’ll be joined by the extraordinary Rachel Brown, the Founder of Over Zero—named in reference to the “zero sum game” that exists in sporting events, but becomes dangerous when it overtakes a society, as it has ours. Over Zero was founded to prevent identity-based violence and other forms of group-targeted harm around the world—and here at home. Rachel is one of the wisest, steadiest voices of our time in guiding us away from dangerous (but human) reactions, and toward calmer times. The program is facilitated by Dr. Theodore R. Johnson, previous UNUM guest and author of the book “When The Stars Begin to Fall.” Learn more about Rachel’s work and Over Zero by clicking “more” below. This program is via Zoom and Facebook Live.
We’re delighted to welcome streaming partners Braver Angels, McCourtney Institute for Democracy, National Institute for Civil Discourse, BridgeUSA, Listen First Project, USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future, Common Ground Committee, Civic Health Project, TP&R podcast, YOUnify, Citizen Connect, Center for the Humanities at University of Miami, Tallahassee Democrat, WFSU Public Media, and Network for Responsible Public Policy.
Over Zero works in the United States, Central Europe, and East Africa—providing assistance to a diverse set of partners, including civil society leaders and organizations, funders and large institutions, and other leaders within society.
For the past decade, Rachel’s work has focused on using communication to prevent violent conflict. She is the author of Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech and was a 2014 Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. Rachel previously founded and ran Sisi ni Amani-Kenya (SNA-K), a Kenyan NGO that pioneered new strategies to build local capacity for peacebuilding and civic engagement.
Dr. Ted Johnson Johnson’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Review, and Atlantic, among other publications. Johnson is a writer for The Bulwark and author of When the Stars Begin to Fall: Overcoming Racism and Renewing the Promise of America (Grove Atlantic, 2021). Johnson’s currently working on a book about race and American democracy’s first principles.
*Funding for this program was provided through a grant from Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.