The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line.
-W.E.B DuBois (1903)-
With segregation, with the isolation of the injured and the robbed, comes the concentration of disadvantage. An unsegregated America might see poverty, and all its effects, spread across the country with no particular bias toward skin color. Instead, the concentration of poverty has been paired with a concentration of melanin.
-Ta-nehisi Coates (2014)-
The overall objective of this course is to better understand the nature of contemporary race relations in the United States. In this class, we will consider how understandings of race and ethnicity have changed over time and examine the processes that led to two equally damning statements to be made over 100 years apart. Throughout the term, we will examine the role of the media in race relations, the pervasiveness of modern stereotypes, the scientific roots of essentialist thinking, micro-level processes of racism, institutional barriers to equality by race, and sociological theories explaining them. We will also use a sociological perspective to interrogate questions of privilege and "color-blindness". Additionally, students will be expected to use course readings and conversations to think critically about their own experiences and American society in general.
Most importantly, this course is an opportunity to think through and discuss difficult issues that continue to shape our country and the people who inhabit it.