Why Can’t Americans Talk About Equality?

Political Philosopher Danielle Allen, Winner of the Fifth Annual Zócalo Book Prize, on the Fundamental Ideal We Tossed Aside in Favor of Freedom

Ferguson, Missouri and policing problems. The rising income gap. Creating institutions to serve a future majority-minority country. Open a newspaper in America today, and a host of problems present themselves that are connected by one issue: equality.

“I think we have trouble grappling with each of these issues because our capacity to think about equality has gotten weaker in the last half century,” Danielle Allen, winner of the 2015 Zócalo Book Prize for Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, told a crowd at MOCA Grand Avenue. After accepting the fifth annual Zócalo Book Prize for the year’s best nonfiction book on community and human connection, Allen, a political philosopher at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, explained how the Declaration of Independence can help Americans relearn how to talk and …

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