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Facing Change: Race as a Social Construct

Free / Talks & Tours / Online

Monday, December 14, 6 – 7:30pm


Film and media expert Rob Buscher will join the next conversation in our new series about race in America.

Free; registration required

About the Event

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” —James Baldwin

Join us for Facing Change, our new online speaker series. Every other month, the Barnes is bringing together artists, scholars, and community activists virtually for a multicultural and intergenerational conversation about race in America.

Today’s conversation focuses on race as a social construct—the understanding that racial categories are manmade, not supported by biological science. The panel features film and media scholar Rob Buscher, writer and arts administrator Kalela Williams, and performing artist Ani Gavino, with producer Loraine Ballard Morrill as moderator. During the program, you’ll be encouraged to use the chat function to submit your own questions.

Ahead of the program, we encourage you to read Buscher’s writing on race in America in Pacific Citizen.

Registrants will be emailed a link to the program.


Rob Buscher

Buscher is an arts administrator, educator, and writer and serves as board chair of the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, an internationally recognized leader in the festival circuit. He developed the Japanese Cinema and Asian American Studies curriculum at Arcadia University and cofounded Zipangu Fest, the UKʼs first Japanese film festival. Buscher is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, where he chairs the editorial board of its newspaper Pacific Citizen.

Kalela Williams

Williams is a writer, arts administrator, and history enthusiast. She is the director of Neighborhood Library Enrichment Programming at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where she stewards adult-focused artistic, cultural, and civic engagement in neighborhoods throughout the city. She previously served as the director of the Free Library’s citywide literary program One Book, One Philadelphia. Her creative work has appeared in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Drunken Boat, and on BBC Radio 4. She founded the group Black History Maven, where she shares stories of the African American diaspora, and Encyclopedia Go Experiences, where she curates historical tours and talks.

Ani Gavino

Gavino is a Filipinx movement artist, choreographer, writer, and community organizer. She directs Ani/Malayaworks, an interdisciplinary dance company that focuses on decolonial art activism. Career highlights include dancing with with companies such as Denver’s Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Philadelphia’s Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers. Gavino's choreography work uses storytelling elements to express cultural connection, resistance, spiritual journeys, and community engagement. Her work has been supported by the Painted Bride Art Center, Fleisher Art Memorial, the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Small But Mighty Arts, Asian Arts Initiative, and the Leeway Foundation.

Loraine Ballard Morrill, moderator

Morrill is news and community affairs director for six iHeartMedia stations in Philadelphia (Power 99 FM, WDAS FM, ALT 104.5 FM, The Breeze 106.1, The Gambler 1480, and Q102). A veteran producer and broadcaster, she has received recognition and numerous awards for her reporting and community affairs contributions, including six National Association of Broadcasters Crystal Awards for Service. Morrill is also the host and producer of Insight and What’s Going On, about local and national issues impacting Philadelphia.

Upcoming Talks

Monday, February 15, 2021
Panelists: Vanessa Julye, Doug Hirlinger, Nina “Lyrispect” Ball
Moderator: Loraine Ballard Morrill

About the Series

Facing Change is a speaker series and community conversation grounded in the belief that all people are created equal and all systems need to be regularly assessed for equity. Every other month, leading scholars, artists, and activists will engage in important discussions, guided by guest moderators and you, the viewer, to ensure we examine the nuances that are sure to arise in conversations about race in America.

The Barnes has a history of working alongside the Black community. This series, along with other initiatives, continues our practice of working toward equality for all. Created in partnership with Loraine Ballard Morrill, OneHunted, Small But Mighty Arts, and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival.

Past Talks

The first Facing Change conversation took place on October 12. Scholar-activist Yaba Blay, performing artist Madhusmita Bora, and workforce development advocate Sean Robinson addressed colorism—discrimination based on skin color, which disadvantages people with darker skin while privileging those with lighter skin. The panel was moderated by producer Loraine Ballard Morrill. Watch a recording of the conversation below.