Race and Ethnic Relations

SOC-S 335 — Fall 2017 — Themester

man covered in tin foil with eyes visible
Hyeyoung Kwon
Wylie Hall 015
Days and Times
2:30P-3:45P MW
Course Description

There are many reasons to be optimistic about racial relations in the United States today. Racial discrimination is outlawed, the majority of Americans believe that diversity strengthens our nation, we’ve had a black president, and today’s youth are arguably the most open-minded generation to date. Yet, America is more racially segregated today than at the end of the Civil War; in comparison to whites, most racial minorities are far more likely to receive an inferior education, lower pay, and heavier prison sentences. So how can we understand persistent racial inequality when many people today celebrate differences and claim that race no longer matters in a so-called colorblind society?

To address these timely issues, the course starts with the question of how racial categories are invented and changed in the U.S. Next, we delve into how a range of structural factors —such as politics, labor market, housing, school, and prison system — reproduces racial inequality. From there, we move onto how cultural representations (e.g., media) and micro-interactions create and recreate racial hierarchy and difference in everyday life. The course then examines how race affects identity formation, academic performance, family dynamics, and gender relations. Finally we conclude the course by exploring the topic of social change, asking how a larger system of racial inequality both enables and constrains individual agency and the process of empowerment and resistance. In a socio-historical moment where many Americans simply embrace “colorblindness,” all students will critically think about their own privilege in relation to intersecting forms of inequality. Through short interactive exercises, the course also encourages students to use their personal experiences as the starting point to engage, critique, and challenge existing knowledge.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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