Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pre-Reading/Pre-Thinking Prompts for the Week of September 3rd


What is your understanding of what Ethnic Studies is? How might it differ or be the same as  other academic disciplines such as Sociology, Anthropology or Political Science? 

Why do you think that Ethnic Studies was developed as a discipline? What makes it unique?

Who do you think benefits from Ethnic Studies courses? Do certain groups of students benefit more than others? Why?

You will need to know the following terms to successfully complete the reading. Please research them and include them in your response:

  • Selective Service Office 

Please watch the following video that addresses the ban on Ethnic Studies in Arizona. The respond to the following questions:

Why is the state of Arizona, and some other states and school districts, considering banning Ethnic Studies?

What might be some of the reasons that there is a debate over whether Ethnic Studies should be taught?

Which groups may be resistant to the teaching of Ethnic Studies? Why? Which groups may be in favor? Why?

Discussion Ground-rules/ Class Code of Conduct

From our class discussion today:

In class discussions, I like it when:
  • People bring interesting or different experiences/ listening to other people's point of view or opinion.
  • My classmates speak up and talk clearly.
  • People are knowledgeable about the topic.
  • Everyone is engaged and the discussion 'flows'.
I don't feel engaged in class discussion when:
  • I feel: sleepy, angry or have other stuff going on in my life that I am thinking about.
  •  The questions are obvious or the discussion is redundant.
  • The topics don't directly relate to me.
  • The topic is very controversial; the discussion can get very heated or polarized.
  • My classmates or teacher doesn't have an open mind.
  • I feel shy, it is difficult for me to speak up.
  • My classmates or teacher is a "KIA"(Know-It-All), or they monopolize discussions.
Class Ground-rules*
*Developed from the above points.
  1. Question, Question, Question!
When in doubt, ask a question. This can look like a couple of different things depending on the need:
  • Instead of directly responding to someone's comment try asking them 3 questions about it. ( i.e. What experiences have you had that makes you think that way, Do you think that this is applicable to this situation,It sounds like you are saying "x", could you clarify your point for me?)
  • Remember: questions open up discussion, definitive statements tend to shut them down. 
2. Step Up, Step Back.

Take some time and think about what type of student you tend to be in class discussions. Do you tend to be really engaged, and very talkative? Do you tend to sit-back and listen to others, but not really talk so much? Do you hate class discussions and doodle in your notebook counting the seconds until it ends? Somewhere in-between?
  • If you find yourself talking a lot, take a step back. Wait until some of your classmates have responded before you enter into the conversation. Ask more questions than statements, try writing down all of your thoughts and then pick your favorites to bring into the discussion.
  • If you find yourself not really talking in class discussions, step up. It can be scary to speak out in class, but as the above discussions shows, your classmates want to hear your opinion and experiences! Again, relying on questions instead of comments may be a more comfortable way to engage in class discussions. Additionally, you could try setting goals for yourself- try talking one more time in class each week. 
  • Remember: active listening is just as important as active listening skills. How do you show your classmates that you are listening to them? What makes you feel like people are genuinely listening to you? Try to incorporate those into your discussion strategies.
3. Practice using "I" statements in order to show respect.

The issues in this class bear directly upon people's lives and therefore we will most likely be talking about our own personal experiences. This can be very scary, and while we may critique certain ideas, or theories in this class we do not want to critique people's experiences. Therefore, please frame your statements in terms of "I". This places your comment within the context of your experience, and limits people from making declarative statements about things which can lead to other students feeling hurt or silenced. 

4. One Diva, One Mic.
Pretty self- explanatory but basically- respect your classmates by allowing them to speak without interruption. This also means giving your classmates your full respect and attention while they are speaking. 

Are there any others people feel are important to add? Let me know in the comments, I will print out a draft for everyone to sign on Wednesday. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blog Assignment

Blog Assignment
            In this course, you will be responding to the readings, discussion and your classmate’s responses by using a blog. The purpose of these blogs is for you to 1) prepare for that week’s topics or texts, and activate your schema on any given topics and 2) engage with the theories and concepts from class in a written form. Use this space in order to explore, question, (dis) agree with, synthesize, explore or complain about the texts or in-class discussion. 
The Blog Assignment is split into two parts: The Pre-Reading/Pre-Thinking Blog and the Post-Reading/Reflection Blog. As the titles suggest, the Pre-Reading/Pre-Thinking Blogs are done before you do the readings for that week and the Post-Reading/Reflection blogs after. Additionally, the blog format makes these responses public and therefore, allows an additional space for us to ‘talk’ with one another. Keeping up with these blog posting is an integral part of your grade so think about doing them shortly after completing the readings for that week.

For sake of uniformity and accessibility, we will all be using the blogs from Please follow these steps to set up a blog. Please email me the address of your blog account by Wednesday, August 29th[1].
1.    Visit
2.    Create a username and password if you do not already have one. (Please note: blogger is synched with so if you have a gmail or google+ acoount, you may use that information to log in).
3.    On your “dashboard” click the “Create New Blog” button.
4.    You are now creating the blog for this course- please label it accordingly (Something like “Ryan Gosling’s ETHS 100 Fall 2012 Blog”, if your name is Ryan Gosling would be appropriate).
5.    Go to for our “Class Blog”. Here I will post the guiding questions for each week as well as the links to everyone’s blog. Please “follow” it so you can keep up to date and easily access it.

Blog Guidelines
·      For each week’s readings, I will post a number of ‘guiding questions’ on the Class Blog; One set is “Pre-Reading” Questions and one set, “Post-Readings” is for after the readings. You may respond to the readings by using these questions or in any other way you see fit. In order to receive credit blogs must be at least 400 words. Please include the word count for your blog on the bottom.
·      As stated in the syllabus, in order to get a “B” for the course, you must complete at least 10 of each blog posts throughout the semester (5 “Pre-Reading”, 5 “Post-Reading” Blog Posts).
·      One of the benefits of using blogs is that we can continue our class discussions via this forum. Because this is so valuable, I expect that you will comment on your classmate’s blogs at least 6 times throughout the semester. These comments will be part of your grade.
·      While I encourage you to go any direction with your posts, they must- in some sense- be topical to the course. Please use the readings, discussions or concepts as a jumping off point for your blog posts. If I see that your blogs are not meeting this requirement- I will contact you privately.

[1]  If, for whatever reason, you do not have access to a computer or Internet access to complete the blogs- please contact me. We will figure out an alternative assignment.

Welcome to Ethnic Studies 100.06-- Syllabus!

ETHS 100: Introduction to Ethnic Studies
M/W- 810-925 BUS 122
Instructor- Elena Strasser
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 10-11 and by appointment.

Course Description:
This course will serve as an introduction to the field of Ethnic Studies. Ethnic Studies is a dynamic, evolving discipline which focuses on the historical and contemporary experiences of people of color in the United States, systems of oppression based on race and ethnicity and the activism of those groups against racism other forms of discrimination. Therefore, this class will provide an introductory survey of the discussions that initially framed the field and discussions that are on going. These discussions are not just important in the discipline- they are subjects which are important in the day-to-day lives of people. For this reason, I am not only interested in seeing you engage with the material presented, but also to put yourself within these discussions. As a result, this class will work to develop your own personal beliefs and experiences regarding the subject matter. Seeing that this is an introductory level course its goals are not only to introduce you to the content of Ethnic Studies but also to develop your skills as writers, readers and thinkers within the discipline. To that end, this class will be heavy in reading and writing requirements but you will not be graded subjectively, but rather on the behaviors you choose to make in this course.
Course Objectives:
At the end of this course students will be able to:
·      Understand the major concepts, theories and ideologies within the field of Ethnic Studies.
·      Grasp the importance of Ethnic Studies scholarship in movements for social justice.
·      Practice self-guided reflections about newly encountered material with the goal of reaching a more complex and thorough understanding.
·      Find and understand the connections between the content in the classroom and the events outside of out it.
·      Utilize blogs as an internet-based learning tool.
Course Readings: All of the readings in this course will be available through a course reader that can be purchased in-class on Wednesday, August 29th. If you do not choose to buy your reader in class, you can purchase it from Photo Day directly. You can contact them at 3418 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco or (415) 387-4779.
         In order to facilitate engagement, reflection, community discussion and active reading/thinking skills, you will be required to create a blog for this course. There are two types of blogs you will be writing: “Pre-Reading/Pre-Thinking” Blogs will be written before you do that week’s reading, and “Post-Reading/Reflection” Blogs will be written at the end of that week. Please note that: “Pre-Reading/Pre-Thinking” Blogs are due by midnight on Saturday and “Post-Reading/Reflection” Blogs are due by Midnight on Thursday. More details about the blog will be discussed in the prompt.
Current Event Paper
            At the end of each unit you will turn in a Current Event paper that links the concepts, ideas and theories we are discussing in class with an event, op-ed, article, or movie/ book review that happens outside of class.  More details on this assignment will be discussed in the prompt.
Cumulative Paper
            At the end of this course you are expected to write a cumulative paper that discusses and ties together some of the major themes in the course. This Cumulative paper will be made up of 4- 3 page essays (For a total of 12 pages). On the class blog, I will post 15-20 questions/prompts that you can choose to respond to in your essays. More details on this assignment will be included in the prompt.
Grading Policy
This course will use a contract grading system instead of a traditional grading system. The objective of contract grading is to evaluate you on the basis of your behavior and academic choices and not on the products you produce in this class. In contract grading, I hold you accountable for certain behaviors listed under each grade- what you do during the course of the semester will determine the grade you receive.
To receive a “B” in this course, students will:
·      Attend 24 of our class sessions.
·      Write 10 blog entries (5 Pre-Reading, 5 Post-Reading) throughout the semester[1].
·      Comment on your peer’s blogs 6 times throughout the semester.
·      Complete and turn in two of the three of the Current Event Papers.
·      Come to the in-class workshops for the Cumulative Paper.
·      Complete and turn in the Cumulative Paper.
·      Attend the LAC, CARP or another tutoring center once during the course of the semester, and bring proof of such attendance to me.
·      Come see me in office hours once during the course of the semester.
·      Actively participate- both through listening and talking- during class.
To receive an “A” in the course students will complete all of the requirements for a “B” and:
·      Meet with either an LAC, CARP, a tutor from another organization or myself one additional time.
·      Complete one additional “Pre-Reading/Pre-Thinking” Blog and one “Post-Reading/Reflection” blog (for a total of 12 blogs).
·      Write a reflection paper that examines how any of the concepts we learned in this course affects your life (2 pages).
·      Do work that shows growth and progress throughout the semester.

Class Expectations
Students: I expect students in this course to be ready to learn and open to constructive feedback on their own ideas, written work and opinions. We will be working very closely in this course and therefore I expect that students will develop ways to professionally and respectfully engage with their classmates. I do not expect that you will agree with your classmates or myself all the time but I expect that you will be respectful, humble and open. I also expect students to be responsible for their own learning- if you are struggling with something, please bring it up in class or speak to me in office hours.
Teacher: I will be prepared to teach class in a professional manner. I will be open to hearing ideas different from my own and will encourage you to develop in ways that you identify as important to you. I will try my best to be reflective and critical of the way I am teaching in order to improve and welcome your feedback in that process. I will strive to make this space accessible and engaging to students from diverse backgrounds and identities. I will hold my students to high standards and give them the tools to meet them.

SFSU Disability Policy: SFSU and the College of Ethnic Studies are committed to making classes accessible to all students. Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor. The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email (
Academic Integrity: Plagiarism and cheating are very grievous transgressions within the University community.  According to the College of Humanities,

 “Plagiarism is a form of cheating or fraud; it occurs when a student misrepresents the work of another as his or her own. Plagiarism may consist of using the ideas, sentences, paragraphs, or the whole text of another without appropriate acknowledgment, but it also includes employing or allowing another person to write or substantially alter work that a student then submits as his or her own.”

We will be reviewing citations in class, but if you are unsure of how to appropriately cite please contact me so you do not plagiarize accidently. Incidents of plagiarism can result in a failing of the course and reporting of the student to the Office of Student Affairs.

Religious Holiday Policies: SFSU is committed to religious tolerance and will make provisions for students who need to miss class for religious holidays or events. Please notify the instructor in writing within the first two weeks of the semester of any absences due to religious holidays.

Student Assistance: There are multiple resources for students at SFSU, please utilize them accordingly to help you successfully complete the semester.
The Learning Assistance Center: HSS 348, (415) 338-1993.
Campus Academic Resource Program: HSS 346, (415) 405- 0316.
Counseling and Psychological Services: Student Services Building 208, (415) 338-2208.
 The Ethnic Studies Student Resource and Empowerment Center: EP 110B. (415) 405- 0775.

Semester Calendar
Week One: August 27th and August 29thth 
Monday Housekeeping, Go Over the Syllabus
Wednesday Community Building, Class Code of Conduct Development
-Student ID cards are due.
-Bring in money to purchase readers.
Week Two: September 3rd and September 5th
History and Future of Ethnic Studies
Monday: Labor Day, NO CLASS
WednesdayHow did we get Ethnic Studies? What is the future of Ethnic Studies?
- Whitson, H. Introductory Essay, SFSU College Strike Collection.
- State of Arizona, House Bill 2281
- Monteiro, K. Who Gets to Define Ethnic Studies
Week Three: September 10th and September 12th
What is Race?/The ‘Instability’ of Race
Monday: What is Race?
- Cornell, S., and Hartmann, D. Mapping the Terrain.
            VIDEO: Race: The Power of Illusion, Part 1.
Wednesday: Do Racial Categories Adequately Explain Everyone’s’ Identity?
- Abdulrahim, S. ‘Whiteness’ and the Arab American Experience.
- Strum, C. Social Classification and Racial Contestation- Local Non-National Interpretations of Cherokee Identity.
Week Four: September 17th and September 19th
Race and Ethnicity
-Flores, J. The Latino Imaginary: Meaning of Community and Identity.
- Hattam, V. Ethnicity and the Boundaries of Race: re-Reading Directive 15.
Monday: What are the differences between Race and Ethnicity?
Wednesday: What are the definitions we use? How do these definitions impact the way we function as a society?
Week Five: September 24th and September 26th
White Supremacy and Privilege
- McIntosh, P. White Privilege, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.
- Lipsitz, G. “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness”: Racialized Social Democracy and the ‘White’ Problem in American Studies
Monday: What is White Privilege? How does it relate to racial injustice/ racist?
Wednesday: How does White Privilege shape our understanding of Racism in the United States?
Week Six: October 1st and October 3rd
Color-Blind Racism-
Bonilla-Silva, E. The Strange Enigma of Race in Contemporary America.
- Bell, J. and Hartmann, D. Diversity in Everyday Discourse: The Cultural Ambiguities and Consequences of “Happy Talk”
Monday: How is the notion of ‘Colorblind Racism’ different from some more conventional understandings of racism?
Wednesday: What are some of the connections between White Supremacy, Racism and Colorblind Racism?
-  Unit 1 Current Event Paper Due
Week Seven: October 8th and October 10th
Intersectionality in Ethnic Studies
- Lourde, A. Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Re-Defining Difference.
- Moraga, C. La Guera
-Cantu, L. A Place Called Home: Mexican Immigrant Men’s Family Experiences.
Monday: What does an intersectional analysis look like? Why is it important?
Wednesday: How does using an intersectional analysis change the way we examine issues of oppression?
Week Eight: October 15th and October 17th
Domestic Violence
- Crenshaw, K. Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Color
            *We will jigsaw this reading- you will receive your assigned sections on the                 blog.
- Kibria, N. Power, Patriarchy and Gender Conflict in the Vietnamese Immigrant Community
- Serwer, A. Republicans are Blocking the Violence Against Women Act.
Monday: What does an intersectional analysis of Domestic Violence look like? How does race-ethnicity, immigration status and language effect a person’s experience with violence as well as seeking safety?
Wednesday: How might using a more intersectional analysis change the types of services that we provide for survivors of Domestic Violence?
Week Nine: October 22nd and October 24th
Race, Disability and Education
- Reid, D.K. and Knight, M.G. Disability Justifies Exclusion of Minority Students: A Critical History Grounded in Disability Studies.
- Connor, D. “I Get in So Much Trouble Just by Walking”: Narrative Knowing and Life at the Intersections of Disability, Race and Class.
- Fletcher, T., Navarette,L. Learning Disabilities or Difference: A Critical Look at the Issues Associated with the Misidentification and Placement of Hispanic Students in Special Ed Programs.
Monday: What are some of the connections between the social constructions of race and disability?
Wednesday: How does an intersectional analysis of disability challenge our understanding of disability?
Week Ten: October 29th and November 1st
- Unit 2 Current Event Paper Due
Week Eleven: November 5th and November 7th
Gender, Race and Class in Hip-Hop I
- Sullivan, R. Rap and Race: It’s Got a Nice Beat, but What About the Message?
- Dyson, M.E. Cover Your Eyes as I Describe a Scene So Violent: Violence, Machismo, Sexism and Homophobia.
Monday: How does Hip-Hop engage with issues of Race, Gender and Class?
VIDEO: Hip-Hop- Beyond Beats and Rhymes
Wednesday: What are some of the problematic aspects of hip-hop? What larger institutional structures and changes are they related to?
Week Twelve: November 12th and 14th
Gender, Race and Class in Hip-Hop II
- Jamila, S. Can I Get a Witness? Testimony from a Hip-Hop Feminist
-Clay, A. All I Need is One Mic: Mobilizing Youth for Change in the Post Civil-Rights Era.
Monday: Veteran's Day, NO CLASS
Wednesday: What are some examples of Hip-Hop that challenge oppression?
Week Thirteen: November 19th and 22nd
Week Fourteen: November 26th and November 28th
The Prison Industrial Complex I
- Alexander, M., West, C. The New Jim Crow.
- Bohrman, R. and Murakawa, N. Remaking Big Government: Immigration and Crime Control in the United States.
Monday: What is the Prison-Industrial Complex? How does it affect communities of Color?
Wednesday: In what ways does the Prison-Industrial Complex use Colorblind Racism?
Week Fifteen: December 3rd and December 5th
The Prison Industrial Complex II
*Jigsaw Readings: You will only read one of the readings for this week- we will assign readings in class.
- Critical Resistance and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex.
- Davis, A. Abolitionist Alternatives.
- Burk, C. Think. Re-Think: Accountable Communities.
- Gilmore, R.G. Pierce the Future for Hope: Mothers and Prisoners in the Post-Keynesian California Landscape.
Monday: What are some of alternatives to prison? How do these alternatives challenge the various dimensions of the PIC?
-  Unit 3 Current Event Paper Due
Week Sixteen: December 10th and December 12th
Course Wrap-Up
Monday In-class workshop on the Cumulative Papers
Wednesday In-class workshop on Cumulative Papers
Week Seventeen-FINALS: December 17th and 19th
- Cumulative Paper due during my office hours, Wednesday, December 19th 10-11a.

[1] In order to get credit, assignments must be completed in accordance with the prompt, and turned in by the due date.