Omar Wasow

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Omar Wasow
Omar Wasow.jpg
Wasow in 2007
Omar Tomas Wasow

1970 (age 51–52)
Nairobi, Kenya

Omar Tomas Wasow (born December 22, 1970)[1] is an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College.[2] He is co-founder of the social networking website BlackPlanet.


Wasow grew up in a multi-ethnic family. His father, Bernard, is of German Jewish heritage, and his mother, Eileen, is African-American.[3][4] Bernard was a civil rights activist who participated in the Freedom Summer Project, which entailed registering Black voters in Mississippi.[5] Wasow's paternal grandfather was the mathematician Wolfgang R. Wasow. Both Wolfgang Wasow and Omar Wasow's paternal grandmother are of German Jewish heritage.[citation needed]


Wasow is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York City, where he was president of the student union. He then graduated from Stanford University in California with a BA degree in race and ethnic relations.[6]

Wasow earned a PhD in African-American studies, an MA in government and an MA in statistics, all from Harvard University.[7]

Tech career[edit]

In 1995, Wasow was proclaimed by Newsweek as one of the "fifty most influential people to watch in cyberspace."

In 1999 he created BlackPlanet, one of the first major social networking sites.[8] In 2008, the company was sold for $38 million.[9]

Academic career[edit]

Wasow became an assistant professor of Politics at Princeton University in 2013.[10]

Wasow’s work centers on race and ethnic politics and social movements and protests.[5] Published four days before the murder of George Floyd, his American Political Science Review paper[11] on violent and nonviolent civil rights protests in the 1960s was widely discussed in media coverage of the George Floyd protests.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] Altmetric ranked the paper in the top 1% (1,000 of 18 million papers).[22] Controversy erupted after David Shor was fired from his job at Civis Analytics, a progressive data analytics company, for tweeting a summary of Wasow’s paper.[23][24][25]

Wasow has written commentary on the George Floyd protests[26] and the 2021 United States Capitol attack.[27]

In 2021, Wasow became an assistant professor of Politics at Pomona College in Claremont, California.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In 2012, Wasow married Jennifer Brea, a documentary filmmaker he met while they were both Ph.D. students at Harvard.[28] He appears in her documentary film Unrest about her experience living with myalgic encephalomyelitis which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Wasow's sister is the filmmaker Althea Wasow,[29] married to the writer Paul Beatty.[30]

Further reading[edit]

  • Browning, Lynnley (2001-05-13). "Silicon Alley's Philosopher-Prince". New York Times.
  • "Omar Wasow". People. 54 (20): 100. 2000-11-13.
  • "The Net 50". Newsweek. 126/127 (26/1): 42–46. 1995-12-25.


  1. ^ "The Identity of Young, Black Men". 1997. Retrieved 2020-07-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b "Omar Wasow | Pomona College". Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  3. ^ Browning, Lynnley (13 May 2001). "Private Sector; Silicon Alley's Philosopher-Prince". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Jennifer Bréa, Omar Wasow". The New York Times. 2012-09-02. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-07-14.
  5. ^ a b "Right To Vote: Civil Rights Activists Say We've Been Here Before". Retrieved 2021-07-14.
  6. ^ Phelan, J. Greg (1994-09-18). "Sound Bytes; Where Hipness is On-Line". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
  7. ^ "About – Omar Wasow". Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  8. ^ "Interview: BlackPlanet's Founder Talks Myspace, Why He was Skeptical of Twitter, And If Facebook May Have Peaked". Complex. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  9. ^ "The Protesting of a Protest Paper". 2020. Retrieved 2020-07-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ University, Princeton. "Display Person – Department of Politics at Princeton University". Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  11. ^ Wasow, Omar (August 2020). "Agenda Seeding: How 1960s Black Protests Moved Elites, Public Opinion and Voting". American Political Science Review. 114 (3): 638–659. doi:10.1017/S000305542000009X. ISSN 0003-0554. S2CID 219501252.
  12. ^ "How Violent Protests Change Politics". The New Yorker. 29 May 2020. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  13. ^ Douthat, Ross (2020-05-30). "Opinion | The Case Against Riots". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  14. ^ Edsall, Thomas B. (2020-06-03). "Opinion | The George Floyd Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  15. ^ "What the 1960s civil rights protests can teach us about fighting racism today". Science News. 2020-06-05. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  16. ^ "Will protests help Donald Trump as they did Richard Nixon in 1968?". The Economist. 2020-06-08. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  17. ^ "美学者:抗议运动对特朗普选情是利还是弊?". Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  18. ^ "La preuve par l'Histoire : pourquoi les violences vont (sans doute) profiter à Trump". (in French). 2020-06-03. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  19. ^ "Riots helped elect Nixon in 1968. Can Trump benefit from fear and loathing too?". The Guardian. 2020-06-16. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  20. ^ "ZEIT ONLINE | Lesen Sie mit Werbung oder im PUR-Abo. Sie haben die Wahl". Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  21. ^ Chait, Jonathan (2020-09-17). "Trump Stoked Police Violence, and It May Have Cost Him the Election". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  22. ^ "Altmetric – Agenda Seeding: How 1960s Black Protests Moved Elites, Public Opinion and Voting". Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  23. ^ Chait, Jonathan (2020-06-11). "The Still-Vital Case for Liberalism in a Radical Age". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  24. ^ Yglesias, Matthew (2020-07-29). "The real stakes in the David Shor saga". Vox. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  25. ^ "The Protesting of a Protest Paper". Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  26. ^ "Perspective | The protests started out looking like 1968. They turned into 1964". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  27. ^ "Perspective | 'This is not who we are': Actually, the Capitol riot was quintessentially American". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  28. ^ "Jennifer Bréa, Omar Wasow – Weddings". The New York Times. 2012-09-02. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  29. ^ "Bio". eileenwasow. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  30. ^ Millen, Robbie, [1], The Times, October 25, 2016.

External links[edit]