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Unpacking Race in the U.S.: Theory, Concepts and Lived Experience

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

We often learn about race from "sound bites" in the media or experiences with family and friends which can be limited in scope. This course will provide an opportunity to thoughtfully analyze the social construction of race. We will take a historical look at how race is categorized and institutionalized in the U.S. and learn key concepts used to maintain racial distinctions.

Race is often discussed in silos that do not allow for thoughtful analysis of its impact on our daily lives beyond our own lived experiences. Family and peer dynamics as well as various forms of media impact how we view our own identity in a racialized context. Where did the concept of race come from? How and why is it still such a large part of how we identify one another in the U.S.? How are racial categories maintained and changed over time? This course will cover key concepts in contemporary racial discourse and provide an introduction to Critical Race Theory and Racial Formation Theory. We will explore current topics relative to race in the U.S. including the recent protests held on college campuses by students of color and their allies. Distinctions between individual, structural, and institutional forms of racism will be explored. Students will be exposed to key articles and text highlighting race in America as well as provocative TED talks to challenge our notion of race. Research previously conducted by the instructor will be used to analyze how race is 'understood' in various demographic circles.

As future college students, it is important for students to have a working knowledge of race in the U.S. beyond their own racial demographic circles. By the end of the course, students will:

  • Have an introductory knowledge of the basic tenets of Critical Race Theory
  • Be able to define key concepts in contemporary racial discourse (race, ethnicity, URM, HUG, colorblindness, racism, prejudice, colorism, white privilege etc.)
  • Be able to distinguish between individual, structural and institutional racism.

Race can be viewed as both a sensitive and controversial topic. Students enrolling in the course have to come with an open mind and willingness to 'unpack' things they may have formerly learned about race. The goal of the instructor is to provide a safe space for all voices to be heard while using historical and contemporary text to frame the conversation in a constructive way.

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