Essay

In 800-1000 words, please answer the following:

Despite proclamations that racism is no longer a barrier to achievement and success, there remains tons of data pointing to extreme racial disparities in almost every important institutional measurement. How can we explain these disparities given that we are fifty years removed from laws officially outlawing racial discrimination? Use the readings and especially the film “The House I Live In” in your answer. Then, explain in your own words the meaning and importance of the following quotation: “Until our collective understanding of racism moves beyond the interpersonal level, and regularly includes an understanding of how broad and interconnected policies and practices profoundly impact opportunities and racial outcomes in our society, our spectrum of solutions will remain painfully limited.”

 

If you’ve paid any attention at all to just about every news site over the last couple of weeks, there is a pretty good chance you have come across stories related to the horrific murders of nine African Americans in South Carolina and the controversy over the flying of the Confederate flag.

Soon after, President Obama was interviewed on Mark Maron’s podcast and made news when he used the “N-word.” Since it is probably the most controversial word in the English language, the use of the slur was widely reported. What many failed to explain was the context in which he used it.

Like most high-profile issues related to race and racism, the mainstream media focuses on the most overt and dramatic storylines, which is understandable in many ways. But what gets left out of the discussion is the concept of structural (or institutional) racism.

Perhaps we’ve come across this term without really grasping its full impact and significance. At any rate, I’d like us to think about it this week, as we emphasize the critical thinking skill that requires us to go deeper with our analysis by asking more relevant questions and placing issues in their proper context.

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, the second landmark achievement of the civil rights movement. Yet, but several measurements, racial progress has stalled, and in many respects even regressed. But how can we explain this? Is there a problem with how we have defined the problem(s)? How are we even defining racism in 2015? What other questions should we be asking?

I’m going to ask you all to do just a few readings and then watch a feature-length documentary called “The House I Live In.” Even if you’ve seen this film before, please watch it again—and carefully—since it explores many of our themes here in Week 4.

1. “Confederate Flags and Institutional Racism”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/25/opinion/charles-blow-confederate-flags-and-institutional-racism.html?_r=0

2. “What Explains Racial Disparities?”

http://www.colorlines.com/articles/colorlinescom-survey-what-explains-racial-disparities

3. “Millennials Are More Racist Than They Think.”

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/03/millenials-race-115909.html#.VZNp0NyyjwK

4. Please make sure to find about an hour and a half to watch this film:

(This is the official link to the film, but you will need iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, etc. to watch it.)

http://www.thehouseilivein.org/see-the-film/watch-the-film/

Or you can try the following link, but you may get pop-ups and other inappropriate ads…but at least it’s free

http://putlocker.is/watch-the-house-i-live-in-online-free-putlocker.html

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