Race and Ethnic Relations

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Race and Ethnic Relations
Prof. Gregory Snyder
Spring 2008

Sociology 3125 (crosslisted with ANT, BLS, HSP)

Office: VC Room 4-251

Office Hours: Tuesday 1-3pm, Thursday 1-3pm

Contact Information

Phone: 646 312 4484

Class Meetings Rm. 12-170

Tues: 4:10-5:25

Thurs: 4:10-5:25


In this course we will tackle the issue of race and ethnic relations from multiple perspectives. This reading intensive class will focus primarily on the experiences of ethnic and racial minorities living in the United States. We will begin by looking specifically at how the concept of race was constructed to serve specific historic and economic purposes. We will then look at how racial identities are created and how they change over time. We will spend some time exploring how the media is complicit in these representations and then move on to some well-known scholars of oppression, domination and critical race theory. We will end the semester with a rigorous effort to conceptualize an anti-racist solidarity movement.


This is a discussion course and it is designed with your participation in mind. In order for you to be successful in this you must do the readings before class and be prepared to engage with and challenge serious ideas. Those unwilling to present ideas in an open forum will not excel in this course. Attendance is mandatory and those who miss multiple classes will suffer the consequences in their grade. It is not necessary to inform me when you have to miss a class.


Students will purchase a composition book in which to write reading notes, (not class notes). This journal will provide you with space to write and reflect on what you are reading and what we’ve discussed. You might include page numbers of significant passages or relevant questions to pursue in class discussion, or simply explore you own thoughts and ideas. Students will be required to read aloud to the class from their journals throughout the semester.


All assigned work should be 12pt. font, double-spaced.

Response Papers (2: 1-2 pages)

The response papers are one-page essays designed to get you comfortable writing your thoughts. They are mandatory but will not be graded. The following guidelines are intended to be used for reacting to a reading although they could easily be used for reactions to films too. Read whatever you've been asked to respond to, and while reading, think about the following questions. It may be necessary to take notes while you read.

What are your thoughts about what you are reading?

What do you agree or disagree with?

What is the author’s main argument?

How well do you think this argument is supported, or not?

Review Paper (2: 1-2 pages)

Students must choose one album, and one movie and write a review. I have included a brief list below but you may also do a review of an album or film of your own choosing. You must get your choice approved from the instructor. These reviews must incorporate at least two of the authors we have read. These papers will be graded. The album review is due March, 27. The movie review is due April 15.

Poetry Reading: In the middle of the semester we will have a Poetry reading. All students will read a poem to the rest of the class. Students are encouraged to share original work or the favorite work of a master. (Ishmael Reed, Saul Williams, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, Rakim, B.I.G, Jay-Z, Dead Prez, Immortal Technique, etc.) The performance will not be graded but participation is mandatory.

We will have two exams. The midterm will be an in-class essay exam, and the final will be a take home exam that will be passed out on the last class meeting and is due on the date of the final exam.


Midterm Exam: Essay Exam 30%
Final Exam. Take Home 40%
Review/Response Papers 20%
Discussion/Attendance 10%


  • Students must come to class ON TIME and stay for the duration of the class.

  • I will assume that students who leave class during a session do not care about contributing to class discussion and therefore will receive an “F” for participation.

  • No leaving to go to the bathroom, please take care of personal business prior to coming to class.

  • Students are expected to be respectful of others and to conduct themselves in a mature fashion. Inappropriate behavior distracts me and hinders other students’ learning. Students who are disruptive or disrespectful will be asked to leave.

  • No text messaging and no internet during class sessions.

  • Students who have special circumstances regarding, exams, emergencies, etc. should contact me via email as soon as a situation arises.

  • Academic integrity is crucial for the learning environment and any act of plagiarism or cheating will be dealt with severely. Consult the college’s policy on academic honesty available on the website.

  • There will be no extra credit.

Learning Goals

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

understand racism as an ideology used to justify the inherently unequal treatment of certain groups,

explain how the concept of race emerged historically and what purposes it was designed to serve,

describe the specifics of a diversity of ethnic groups experiences of immigration and assimilation,

distinguish race from ethnicity and also understand the complex ways they overlap,

recognize how race operates in contemporary American society,

understand how race, class, and gender are interlocking systems of domination

conceptualize a complex and inclusive anti-racist solidarity movement,

share their thoughts, ideas, insights and questions in an open forum.

Required Texts

Charles A. Gallagher, (2007), Rethinking the Color Line, New York, NY, McGraw-Hill.

Cornel West, (1993) Race Matters, New York, Vintage Books.

bell hooks, (1990) Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics. Boston, MA. South End Press.

Vijay Prashad, (2001), Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting, Boston, MA. Beacon Press.

Malcolm X with Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Other Readings

1. W.E.B. DuBois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” ch. 1 in The Souls of Black Folk (this is readily available on-line or I recommend buying a copy)

2. Wise, T., “What Kind of Card is Race? The Absurdity (and Consistency) of White Denial” (handout)

3. Eric K. Watts, “An Exploration of Spectacular Consumption: Gangsta Rap as Cultural Commodity” in That’s The Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, Forman and Neal, eds. (I will provide you with this)

4. Patricia Hill Collins, “Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination” in, Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert . (I will provide you with this)

Recommended Viewing and Listening. (If you are not familiar with some of these products of American pop culture, educate yourself.)

Viewing: Do The Right thing, X, Fresh, Boyz in the Hood, New Jack City, City of God, Crash, Mississippi Masala, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, Brother from Another Planet, Bulworth, The Color Purple, Mississippi Burning, Menace to Society, Putney Swope, Tougher than Leather, Wildstyle, The Matrix.
Listening: Bird, Monk, Miles, Mingus. Bad Brains, Big Pun, Black Moon, Bob Marley, Boogie Down Productions (album, “Criminal Minded”) Buju Banton, Capelton, Celia Cruz, The Clash, De La Soul, Dead Prez, Eddie Palmieri, Eric B. and Rakim, Gil Scott Heron, Grandmaster Flash, Immortal Technique, Iwayne, Jay-Z, Jeru, Jimmy Cliff, John Coltrane, M.O.P, Marc Anthony, Marvin Gaye, The Meters, M.I.A, Mike Ladd, NWA, Nina Simone, Biggie, Outkast, Pharohe Monch, Prince, Project Pat, Public Enemy, (album, “Nation of Millions”) Run-DMC, Sizzla, Stevie Wonder, Tito Puente, TV on the Radio, Turbulence, Wu-Tang…and finally…James Brown, “Say it Loud”.

1.29> Introductory Remarks

A Brief History of Africans in America, 1620-2000.
1.31> The Meaning of Color


Gallagher: “Rethinking the Color Line: Understanding How Boundaries Shift” (G, pp.1-3)

Gallagher: “Sorting By Color”, (G, pp.5-6)

Harris, “How Our Skins Got Their Color” (G, pp.7-8)

Zinn, “Drawing the Color Line”, (G, pp. 9-20

Omi and Winant, “Racial Formations” (G, 21-28)

Albert J. Raboteau, 1978, Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South, New York, NY, Oxford University Press.

Joseph Holloway ed. 1990, Africanisms in American Culture, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Eugene D. Genovese, 1976, Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made, (New York: Vintage Books.

2.5> W.E.B Dubois and The Double Consciousness


W.E.B DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (Packet)


Frederick Douglas, 1960, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, (1st pub. 1845)

2.7> Race and the Slave System: The Historical Construction of Race (fix these readings they aren’t very good. Some latin would be good here)


Bonilla-Silva, “Racialized Social System Approach to Racism” (G, pp. 46-55)

Shapiro, “Transformative Assets, the Racial Wealth Gap and the American Dream”, (G, pp. 80-84)

Rodriguez and Cordero-Guzman, “Placing Race in Context” (G, pp. 85-91)


Edmund Morgan, 1975, American Slavery American Freedom, New York, Norton Press.

2.12> No Class. Lincoln’s Birthday

2.14> Pan-Ethnicity and the Making of Cultural Identity


Wilkins, “A Tour of Indian Peoples and Indian Lands” (G pp.92-113)

Espiritu, “Asian American Panethicity: Bridging Institutions and Identities” (G 113-121)

2.19> Whiteness and its Rewards

Gallagher, “Color Blind Privilege”, (G, pp. 130-142

Lipsitz, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: Racialized Social Democracy” (G pp.201-213)

2.21> Contemporary Racism and the Structure of Opportunity

Feagin, “The Continuing Significance of Race: Anti-Black Discrimination” (G, pp. 214-223)

Wise, T., “What Kind of Card is Race? The Absurdity (and Consistency) of White Denial” (handout)

Response Paper Due
2.26> Race and the Criminal Justice System

Cole, “The Color of Punishment” (G pp. 304-313)

Davis, “Race and Criminalization” (G pp.314-323)

Reisman, “…And the Poor Get Prison” (G pp. 324-343)


Christian Parenti, 1996, Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in an Age of Crisis, Verso.

Schlosser, Eric, 1998. “The Prison Industrial Complex”. Atlantic Monthly, December, pp. 51-77.

2.28> Immigration, Culture and Class

Waldinger, “When the Melting Pot Boils Over” (G, pp. 351-362)

Waters, “Ethnic and Racial Identities of Second-Generation Black Immigrants” (G, pp. 518-533)

3.4> Massey, “Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Conditions” (G, pp. 224-250)

Kozol, “Savage Inequalities” (G pp. 280-289)

3.6> Street Life and Revolutionary Consciousness: Class – Values


Anderson, “Code of the Streets” (G, pp. 251-261)

Eric K. Watts, “An Exploration of Spectacular Consumption: Gangsta Rap as Cultural Commodity” (handout)

Response Paper Due
Listening (these can be found on Youtube.com)

“Paper Planes” M.I.A

“I Against I” Bad Brains

“Criminal Minded” Boogie Down Productions

“Straight Outta Compton” NWA

“Juicy”, Notorious B.I.G

“New Jack Hustler” Ice-T

“Moment of Clarity”, Jay-Z

“Hip Hop”, Dead Pres


Shakur, S. aka Monster Kody Scott, 1994. The Life of an L.A. Gang Member. New York: Penguin.

Mary Patillo, Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City, University of Chicago Press, 2007.

3.11> Race and Media
Lewis and Jhally, “Television and the Politics of Representation” (G, pp. 420-431)

Lapchick, “The New Racial Stereotypes” (G, pp. 456-466)

3.13> Exam Review

3.18> Midterm Exam
3.20> Poetry Readings

3.25> Beyond Black and White: The Complexities of Brown in America

Suleiman, “The Arab Immigrant Experience” (G, pp. 498-517)

“Hispanics in the American South and the Transformation of the Poultry Industry”, William Kandel, Emilio A. Parrado, (G. 398-414)

Recommended: Vijay Prashad, The Karma of Brown Folk

3.27> Wu, The Changing Face of America: Intermarriage and the Mixed Race Movement” (G, pp. 554-572)

Root, “Ten Truths of Interracial Marriage”, (G. pp. 573-581)

Album Review Due

4.01> Developing Critical Race Consciousness

bell hooks, Yearning Chapters 1, 7,8,9
4.03> bell hooks, Yearning, Chapters 15, 16, 17, 18
4.08> West, Race Matters
4.10> Malcolm X, The Autobiograpy of Malcolm X, (entire).

4.15> In class listening: Cornel West’s Inaugural Toni Morrison Lecture, Princeton NJ, 2006,“The Gifts of Black Folk in an Age of Terrorism”

Film Review Due
Building an Anti-Racist Solidarity Movement

4.17> Prashad, Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting Chapter 1

4.29> Prashad, Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting Chapter 2

5.01> Film: Enter the Dragon

5.06> Prashad, Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting Chapter 5

5.08> Collins, “Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination”(packet)

5.13> Exam Review
Final Exam TBA

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