Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pre-Reading Questions Week Five

"There is a strange kind of enigma associated with the problem of racism. No one, or almost no one, wishes to see themselves as racist; still racism persists, real and tenacious"--Albert Memmi (quoted in Bonilla-Silva, 1)

Why do you think that racism continues to exist despite the fact that nobody, or very few people, identify as racist? 

Please watch the following video about whether the United States is 'post-racial' after Obama's election:

Why do the commentators think that the election of Obama means that race doesn't matter in the United States anymore? Why does Dr. Apollon argue that the election of Obama doesn't mean that 'racism is dead'?

If you were speaking to one of your friends about our class discussion about white privilege from last week and they said 'Oh, I don't see color, I just see people individually' how would you respond?

What would be your definition of 'diversity'? How does your definition relate to structural privilege? Or social justice?

Consider the following example: At a PTA meeting, parents agree that they want to have a 'culture day' where students all bring food from their respective culture to share with the class. The parents think that this a great way to get students to be more tolerant of other cultures. However, in the same meeting the parents get into a heated argument about whether students who are undocumented (illegal) should get to use the 'free lunch' program that is provided to low-income students. 

Is there a contradiction present here? What do the parents think is the best way to teach children about tolerance? What might this scenario suggest about how we see social justice in this country? 

"...We see that respondents typically define diversity in broad and inclusive terms, but when asked to describe their personal experience with difference, their responses are almost exclusively tied to race". (Bell and Hartmann, 119)

What do you think Bell and Hartmann mean when they say people describe diversity in 'broad and inclusive terms?'. When people say that that something is 'diverse' what are they  usually describing? Does the term 'diverse' become a stand-in for 'racially non-white'?

Post-Reading Questions for Week 4

The Blog is set-up a little differently this week.
Please answer one question from each 'section' of questions.
SECTION 1: Answer one of the following questions.
A Political Cartoon that represents some of the issues we were talking about in class today!
Please respond to the above cartoon: Why are the statements that the characters in the cartoon making 'lies'? What are their connections to white privilege?

Please write your own definition of 'structural privilege'. Try using 'layman's' (or common language). How would you explain it to your friends or family?

What were some examples of privilege and disadvantage that stood out to you during the exercise? Did you find them interesting, troubling, ridiculous? Why?
SECTION 2: Answer one question from the following questions:

McIntosh argues that "...obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage it kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware of the freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power, and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already" (298).
Do you agree or disagree- Why or why not?

What structural privileges do you possess? What disadvantages? 

How does the idea of structural privilege (based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, citizenship status, or other characteristics) challenge the notion of a meritocracy?

Why is knowing about structural privilege important to achieving social justice?
SECTION 3: Please answer one of the below questions:

Here is Jon Scalzi's blog post about how straight white males play the 'game of life' on the lowest difficulty setting (Again, it is super short and worth reading). What makes this analogy useful for understanding structural privilege? How is it similar or different to the examples listed in the McIntosh piece?

 Please read "Black Girl Dangerous' blog post about 'reverse-racism' (it's short). Is this list a more accurate representation of 'reverse racism?' Why or why not? What makes the things on this list different than the claim that affirmative action is 'reverse racism'?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pre-Reading Questions for Week 4

What is your definition of privilege? What are some examples of privileges that different people in society can possess?

This week we will be introducing a lot of terms that may be new Give your best guess of what these terms mean and why we talk about them in Ethnic Studies:

  • White privilege
  • Structural inequality
  • Advantage/Disadvantage

How would you define racism? Can racism be linked to your definition of privilege?

Can people of color be racist? Why or why not?

It is generally acknowledged that people who are White have some advantages in U.S. society. How did this happen? 

"Racism changes over time, taking on different forms and serving different social purposes in different eras" (Lipsitz, 88)

What do you think Lipsitz means by this quote? What did racism look like in Colonial America? At the turn of the 20th Century? Now?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Post-Reading Questions for Week Three

"I think we should remove the formal distinction between race and ethnicity from the federal classification system, but we must also remain alert to, and seek to change, the complex ways in which ethnic privilege has long been secured by defining ethnicity against race" (Hattam, 81). 

Please explain Hattam's arguments in your own words and then explain why you agree or disagree.

Examine the Census handout from class today. For three of the Census' listed (1790, 1850, 1930, 1950, 1990,2000), explain what the racial make-up of the country at that time was and how it impacted the categories on the Census. In other words, what were the social and historical circumstances that led to the categories in those years?

If one of your  Hispanic/Latino friends (or family members, if that applies) asked you how to fill out questions 8 and 9 on the Census what would you tell them?

Please define Flores' three approaches to understanding the Latino community: demographic, analytic and imaginary. Why is it important that we look at the community in these three ways?

"The imaginary articulates more than a reflexive response to negative conditions and unfavorably weighted relations which, though oppositional, is as a response still ultimately mimetic and confined to extrinsically set terms. It is important to recognize that the Latino imaginary, like that of other oppressed groups, harbors the elements of an alternative ethos,  an ensemble of cultural values and practices created in its own right and to its own ends" (Flores, 71). 

Please paraphrase the above quote from Flores in your own words. What is he saying about the relation of the Hispanic/Latino community to larger society? In other words, did the Latino community develop only in response to White racism?

How does the Census both reflect and create racial categories in the United States?

I have also attached the slideshow on the difference between race, ethnicity and nationality below:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Current Event Assignment

Current Event Assignment
            Because the field of Ethnic Studies is a growing and dynamic field that focuses on ending oppression in the lives of people in the United States and globally, it is an important practice to link what we learn in the classroom to the world. Therefore, the purpose of this assignment is for you to find an article, op-ed piece, or outside event that you can use to explain and apply some of the theories, concepts or ideas we discuss in each unit. In these papers I expect you to illustrate the connections between what we have learned in each unit and the current event that you have chosen.
      -You may use any of the theories, concepts, ideas or discussions that are linked to the material of the Unit we are in
   -You must use at least one of the in-class readings to support your analysis.
     -Please attach a copy of the article/op-ed or a ticket-stub, program or photo of the event you attended.

 Current Event Paper #1- Foundations of Ethnic Studies, White Supremacy, Race as a Social Construct, History of Race and Ethnicity in the United States. Due October 3rd
 Current Event Paper #2- Intersectionality in the Field of Ethnic Studies. Due November 1st
 Current Event Paper #3- Case Studies within Ethnic Studies (Hip-Hop or the Prison-Industrial Complex) Due December 5th
·      Please organize your paper in the following fashion:
 Section 1: In this section, please summarize your current event for your reader. Do not assume that your reader will reference what you attach. Try using the journalistic questions to guide your summary: Who, What, When, and Why?
  Section 2: Here, please introduce the theories, concepts, ideas and readings you will be using in your analysis of the current event. Please define any of the terms you use and give a through explanation of the texts you will be using. Please pretend that your reader (me, and sometimes your class-mates) is not familiar with the terms you will be using so that your explanation will be through and complete. 
 Section 3: In this section you will apply the concepts from class to your current event.  Explain how the theories, concepts or ideas from class are related to your current event. How do the theories, concepts or ideas you chose relate to the article? In what ways is the current event similar to the readings? How is it different? How do the theories, concepts, ideas, etc from class make you think about the current event? What would the authors you chose to use say about this current event?
 Your paper should be typed in an easily readable 12-point font, stapled, and properly cited where necessary.             
Possible Websites to Find Current Event Articles

     The Root
      Asian Week
*If you have any blogs, or news-sites that you like, and think would be good for other students to read, please let me know and I will post them!

Pre-Reading Questions for Week 3

Hello Students! 

As you could see in class today, it is imperative that you come to class prepared by doing the readings. I expect next week to have higher rates of participation, but if not, I may implement reading quizzes. 

Pre-Reading Questions for Week Three:

Last week we discussed the technical differences between race and ethnicity, please address  what some of the implications/ consequences of defining some groups as a ethnicity and some as a race.

These are the Census questions that ask about race and Ethnicity. Please make a list of what you think the Major ethnicities and the Major races in the United States are. Compare this list to the Ethnicities and Races provided on the Census- what is different? Why do you think that is?

"Fill out" the Census for yourself (Pretend you are Person 1). What did you mark? Were you able to easily check boxes or was it more difficult? Why?

Do you think the racial and ethnic categories that the Census puts out have an influence on the racial and ethnic categories that we use on an everyday basis? Why?

If you were 're-do' the Categories on the Census, what would they be and why?

In our discussion of race and ethnicity we discussed how they are social constructs that change over time. Can you think of some periods in history where the categories on the Census may have changed? What were they and why might they affect the categories on the Census?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Post-Reading Questions for Week 2

  • Your peers are putting forth some really interesting responses on their blogs-please begin to read them and comment on them.

If you had to come up with your own definitions for race and ethnicity what would they be?

Did your understandings of race and/or ethnicity change from your pre-reading response? If so, how?

Race and ethnicity can have many meaning in this country. What do you think leads to this confusion? 

Does everyone have the right to self-identity their own race and ethnicity? Why might this be?

What are the connections, if any,  between these concepts and racism or oppression?

What might be the differences between racism and ethnocentrism (pg.32 for the definition of ethnocentrism)

The film states that we (as a society) often believe that race is biological. The example that cites throughout is that of sports; some races are biologically designed to be more athletic. Can you think of any examples from your own experience that link biology and race?

Using the definitions from Cornell and Hartmann, what would your race, ethnicity and nationality be (in the context of the United States). Do you feel that these definitions do accurately describe how you would identify yourself? Why or why not?

What are some of the racial complexities described in the Abdulrahim and the Strum texts? Please explain how they are examples of any of the following concepts: race as a social construct, race/ethnicity as changing over time, racial identification as linked to power and oppression.

Buzzfeed's List of 34 Celebrities You Would Never Guess Had 'Mixed Heritages"

Racialicious- 4 Ways that the Buzzfeed Article missed the Mark

 What assumptions about race, ethnicity and nationality does the author of the Buzzfeed list have? (Don't just list the assumptions that Raciaclicious puts out there- please think about how their labels correspond or don't correspond with the definitions we spoke about in class)

As we were going through the list in class; many of the students expressed shock or surprise at some of the labels in the slideshow. Why were we surprised by some of their heritages? Try comparing what we think they 'are' or 'should be' to what the website thinks that they are. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pre-Reading Questions for Week 2: What is Race?

In this course, we will be talking a lot about race and racism. So, its best we get ourselves on the same page. 

How would you define race?

What are some common racial classifications (groups) we use in the United States? Can you define them?

What makes a group of people a 'race'- what common characteristics do they share?

Are racial categorizations universal, or do they vary from society to society? 
Have you ever been to other countries or places in the United States where the racial classification system is different?

How about ethnicity? What is your definition of ethnicity?

What are some of the differences between race and ethnicity? 

How you would characterize your own race and ethnicity? Please explain why you chose the labels that you did.

Has anyone ever gotten your race or ethnicity wrong? If so, what might be the reason for this mis-identification? Conversely, if people are able to identify you correctly- why might this be so?

Post-Reading/Reflection Prompts for Week 1: History and Future of Ethnic Studies


  • I have an office- It is EP 407. To get a "B" in the course, you must come to my office hours at least once. They are MW 10-11 and by appointment. 

  • Please make sure to 'sign' the class code of conduct. I consider this part of your active participation grade.

  •  Remember: Your blogs need to be at least 400 words, have a word count at the end and be posted by Midnight to receive credit. 

Post-Reading/Reflection Questions

Are there any similarities between the issues facing students at San Francisco State University in 1968 and issues facing students today? 

What problems did the 1968 strikers want Ethnic Studies to address? Or, if you were to ask one of the strikers what issues Ethnic Studies was supposed to solve, what would they say?

Imagine a conversation between one of the legislators of HB 2281 and one of the 1986 strikers. What would they say to one another?

Monteiro argues that traditional history classes would actually be outlawed under HB 2281 because they 'primarily teach the history of white people and white studies'- which is primarily designed for the students of one ethnic group (Rule #3). Please compare one of your history classes from high school against the four criteria set forth by HB 2281- would it be prohibited? 

Tom Horne and Michael Eric Dyson Debate HB 2281 on Anderson Cooper 360:
(the video we couldn't get to work in class!)

What are the arguments that Horne is making against teaching Ethnic Studies in the Tucson Unified School District?

What are the arguments that Dyson is making in favor of Ethnic Studies?

Horne argues that these classes separate students out and therefore should be banned- what might be some of the benefits of students taking an ethnic studies class that is different than their own heritage? (i.e. African American students taking a Latina/o studies course, White students taking an American Indian studies course, etc., )

Imagine one of your family members hears you are taking an Ethnic Studies course at San Francisco State, and they ask your opinion on this controversy. What would you tell them?