Course Description

August 6, 2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, federal legislation intended to enforce the constitutional amendments that prohibited racial discrimination in voting.  Yet, a recent Washington Post poll shows that nearly 60 percent of all Americans think that the US should be doing more to ensure that blacks have rights equal to whites (Washington Post, August 5, 2015).  How do we account for the seemingly endless contradictions of the US as a bastion of democracy, and the increasing inequality we see between and within races and ethnicities in this country?

 This course will examine the politics surrounding race and ethnicity in this country, as they apply to the themes of justice, power, and citizenship.  This course takes a critical approach to these themes and political institutions and processes.  This critical approach does not assume that integration into a capitalist democracy is the “ideal” or “goal” of racial and ethnic politics, nor does it assume the categories of race and ethnicity are legitimate, “natural”, or static.


Most of your readings for this course are located on Blackboard.  We will read one text, available at the Rutgers Barnes and Noble bookstore in Bradley Hall.   

 Jeffries, Michael P. 2013.  Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America.  Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

 Assorted Readings on Blackboard Site, Organized by Week/Topic

 Assignments and Course Grades:

 Course grades are determined by the following assignments:

 Participation/Attendance: 10%

Homework (3 Journal Submissions/Reading Responses): 30%

Midterm (In-Class Essay): 30%

Final (Take-Home Essay): 30%


Participation/Attendance: You are required to attend all class sessions, and I will allow for two unexcused absences before deducting points from your participation grade.  It is your responsibility to notify the professor of your absence prior to the start of class, and provide documentation of all excused absences.  You will sign into class each day, and habitually late students will not get full attendance/participation grade.  Occasionally, we will have classroom discussions and exercises, completion of which will count toward this grade.   

 Homework: You are required to submit 3 response papers/journal entries to the weekly readings by the end of the semester.  These responses should be no more than 1000 words (roughly 2 pages single spaced).  These responses are merely your thoughts and reactions to the readings for a given week.  The purpose of these assignments is to ensure you are engaging the reading critically, and will be of use for your final paper.  You will submit these assignments in person and receive feedback from me no later than 2 weeks after submission.

 Midterm: You will complete an in-class essay (or essays) on the material we have covered up to Week 10.  You will find it helpful to complete at least one homework assignment before the midterm so that you have some feedback from me about your work/engagement of the material.

 Final: You will complete a take-home essay on a topic of your choice that critically and thoughtfully engages the major themes of the course. It is advised you begin seriously considering your final essay topic as soon as possible in order to maximize your benefit of peer review and feedback. You will have a free day to research your topic (I will provide several links and resources to help you research), and we will use one class session to provide peer feedback prior to this research day (see Week 12-13).  I will provide you with several opportunities to discuss your paper and provide you with guidance on the topic. 

 Academic Integrity: Please do not plagiarize! It’s a form of oppression and erasure and those are bad things! Please read the University’s policy on academic integrity (also on Blackboard):

 Class Schedule

 Part I: Answering the Big Questions

 Week 1: Introduction; What is Race? What is Ethnicity?

 September 1:

·         Introduction, Syllabus Review

 September 3:  

·         Clemetson, L.  “Some Younger U.S. Arabs Assert Identity.” The New York Times.  January 11, 2004.

·         Kivisto, P. and Croll, P. 2012. “Defining the Subject” in Race and Ethnicity: The Basics. New York: Routledge.

·          Navarro, M.  “For Many Latinos, Racial Identity is more Culture than Color.”  The New York Times.  January 13, 2012.

·         Swarns, R. “’African-American’ becomes a Term of Debate.”  The New York Times.  August 29, 2004. 

·         Winant, H. 2004. Behind blue eyes: Whiteness and contemporary US racial politics. Off white: Readings on power, privilege, and resistance2, 3-16.


·         Egan, T.  “When to Campaign with Color: An Asian-American Told his Story to Whites and Won. For Black Politicians, It’s a Riskier Strategy.”  The New York Times.  June 20, 2000.

·         Harmon, A.  “Seeking Ancestry, and Privilege, in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests.” The New York Times.  April 12, 2006. 

·         Lee, S. 1993.  "Racial Classifications in the US Census: 1890-1990" Journal of Race and Ethnic Studies. 16(1): 75-94.

·         Lewin, T.  “Growing Up, Growing Apart.”  The New York Times.  June 25, 2000.

·         Orenstein, P.  “Mixed Messenger.”  The New York Times.  March 23, 2008. 

·         Weaver, H. N. 2001. “Indigenous Identity: What Is It and Who Really Has It?” The American Indian Quarterly25(2), 240-255.

·         Census materials

Week 2: What is Justice?

 September 8:

·         No Class (Designation Day)

 September 10:

·         Crenshaw, K.  1989.  “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.”  U. Chi. Legal F. 139

·         Kivisto and Croll. 2012. “Dynamics of Inequality” in Race and Ethnicity: The Basics. New York: Routledge.  

·         Soja, E. 2009. “The city and spatial justice.” Justice Spatiale, Spatial Justice, (1), 31-39.

·         Young, I. M. 2001. “Equality of whom? Social groups and judgments of injustice”. Journal of Political Philosophy9(1), 1-18.

Supplemental: Fraser, N. and Honneth, A.  2003.  Redistribution or Recognition?: A Political-Philosophical Exchange.  New York: Verso Books.

 Week 3: What is Power? On Exclusion and Inclusion

 September 15:

·         Klinkner. P. and Smith, R. “Chapter 1” in The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America. 2002. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

·         King, D.  2005.  “Making Americans: Immigration Meets Race.” in E Pluribus Unum? Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Immigrant Political Incorporation. 2005.  Gerstle, G. and Mollenkompf, J., Eds.  New York: Russell Sage Foundation. 

·         Young, Iris.  “The Five Faces of Oppression” in Oppression, Privilege, and Resistance.  2004.  Heldke, L. and O’Connor, P., Eds.  Boston: McGraw-Hill. 

 September 17:

·         Lee, E. 2002. “The Chinese exclusion example: Race, immigration, and American gatekeeping, 1882-1924.” Journal of American Ethnic History, 36-62.

·         Wacquant, L. 2005. “Race as civic felony*”. International Social Science Journal57(183), 127-142.

Week 4: ‘The Personal is Political’: Theories and Modes of Racial and Ethnic Politics

 September 22:  

·         Martinez, L.  2005.  “Yes We Can: Latino Participation in Unconventional Politics.”  Social Forces.  84(1): 135-155. 

·         King, D. S., & Smith, R. M. 2005. “Racial orders in American political development.” American Political Science Review99(01), 75-92.

·         Leighley, J. E., & Vedlitz, A. (1999). “Race, ethnicity, and political participation: Competing models and contrasting explanations.” The Journal of Politics61(04), 1092-1114.

·         Mansbridge (Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women?),

·         Smith, R. 1990. Recent Elections and Black Politics: The Maturation or Death of Black Politics?. PS: Political Science & Politics, 23, pp 160-162.

 September 24:

·         Coates, T.  June 2014.  “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic.

·         McAdam, D., Sampson, R., Weffer, S., & MacIndoe, H. 2005. " There will be fighting in the streets": The distorting lens of social movement theory. Mobilization: an international quarterly10(1), 1-18.

·         Smith, R. C. (1981). Black Power and the Transformation from Protest to Policies. Political Science Quarterly, 431-443.

·         Terry, B.  2015.  “After Ferguson.” The Point Magazine.

 Supplemental: Reparations folder and Gay, C. 2002.  “Spirals of Trust: The Effect of Descriptive Representation on the Relationship between Citizens and Their Government.”  American Journal of Political Science.  46(4): 717-733.

 Part II: The Politics of Assimilation/Integration Policy

 Week 5: Political Citizenship: Voting and Voting Rights

 September 29:

·         McClain, P. and Stewart, J.  2013.  “Chapter 3” in “Can We All Get Along?”: Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics.  Westview Press, 6th Ed.

·         Lien, P.  “What Ties that Bind?: Comparing Political Attitudes and Behavior Across Major Asian American Groups.” in Making Of Asian America: Through Political Participation. 2001. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

·         Guinier, L. 1994. “[E]RACING DEMOCRACY: THE VOTING RIGHTS CASES.” Harvard Law Review, 108(1), 109.

·         Reed, A. 2015. “The Strange Career of the Voting Rights Act: Selma in Fact and Fiction.” New Labor Forum (Sage Publications Inc.), 24(2), 32-41)

 Supplemental: Kaufmann, K. 2003.  “Black and Latino Voters in Denver: Responses to Each Other’s Political Leadership” Political Science Quarterly.  118(1): 107-125.

 October 1:

·         Coates, T. October 2015. “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” The Atlantic.

·         Weaver, V. M., & Lerman, A. E. 2010. “Political consequences of the carceral state.” American Political Science Review, 104(04), 817-833.

·         Woodard, S. (2014, 07). THE MISSING NATIVE VOTE. In these Times, 38, 18-21,23-25,27,4. Retrieved from


·         Behrens, A., Uggen, C., & Manza, J. 2003. “Ballot Manipulation and the “Menace of Negro Domination”: Racial Threat and Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 1850–20021. AJS, 109(3), 559-605.

·         Uggen, C., & Manza, J. 2002. “Democratic contraction? Political consequences of felon disenfranchisement in the United States”. American Sociological Review, 777-803.

 Week 6: Social Citizenship: The Battle for Public and Private Goods

 October 6:

·         King, M.L. 1954. “Desegregation and the Future” Transcript.   

·         Piven, F.F. and Cloward, R. January 1967.  “The Case Against Urban Desegregation.”  Social Work.  12-21.

·         Cashin, S.  “Introduction.” In The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class Undermine the American Dream.  2005.  Public Affairs.

·         Holme, J., Wells, A. and Revilla, A. 2005 “Learning Through Experience: What Graduates Gained by Attending Desegregated High Schools.” Equity & Excellence in Education, 38(1):14-24

 October 8:

·         In-Class Documentary & Discussion: Occupy Alcatraz (see: Occupy Alcatraz folder for supplemental resources)

 Week 7: Economic Citizenship: Labor, Race, and Ethnicity

 October 13:  

·         Feagin, J. 2013. “ Whiteness as a Managerial System.” Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine, 64(8), 53.

·         Honey, M. 2000. “Anti-Racism, Black Workers, and Southern Labor Organizing: Historical Notes on a Continuing Struggle.”  Labor Studies Journal, 25(1), 10.

·         “A Future for Workers: Contributions from Black Labor” July 2015. 

 October 15:

·         Kang, M. 1997. “Manicuring Race, Gender and Class: Service Interactions in New York City Korean-owned Nail Salons.” Race, Gender & Class, (3). 143

·         NY Times Series on Nail Salons (2015)

·         Ruiz, Vickie.  1984. “Working for Wages: Mexican Women in the Southwest, 1930-1980.” Working Paper No. 19.

Part III: Radical and Intersectional Politics

 Week 8: Self Determination and Radical “Politics”

 October 20:

·         “The Gary Declaration: Black Politics at a Crossroads” – from the National Black Political Convention in Gary, IN. 

·         Johnson, C. 2003. “From popular anti-imperialism to sectarianism: the african liberation support committee and black power radicals.” New Political Science, 25(4), 477-507

·         Ogbar, J.  Summer 2001.  "Yellow power: the formation of Asian-American nationalism in the age of black power, 1966-1975." Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. 29-38

·         Student National (Nonviolent) Coordinating Committee. “The Basis of Black Power.”  Position Paper.

·         Ture, K.1967. “Black Power and the Third World” Address to the Organization of Latin American Solidarity, Havana, Cuba.

 October 22:

·         In-Class Documentary & Discussion: Attica Prison Rebellion documentary (see: Attica Prison Rebellion folder for supplemental resources)

 Week 9: Black Feminist Politics and Life at the Intersections; Midterm

 October 27:

·         Garza, A.  2015. “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”  The Feminist Wire.

·         Cohen, C. J. 1997. “PUNKS, BULLDAGGERS, AND WELFARE QUEENS.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies, 3(4), 437.

·         “Combahee River Collective Statement” by the Combahee River Collective

·         Lee, K. 2012. “Rethinking with Patricia Hill Collins: A Note Toward Intersectionality as Interlocutory Interstitiality.” The Journal Of Speculative Philosophy, (2), 466.

·         Payne, C. 1989. “Ella Baker and Models of Social Change.” Signs, (4). 885.

·         Prindeville, D. 2004. “Feminist Nations? A Study of Native American Women in Southwestern Tribal Politics.” Political Research Quarterly, (1). 101.

·         Ramirez, C. 2002. “Crimes of fashion: the pachuca and Chicana style politics.” Meridians, 2(2), 1-35.

·         Schalk, S. 2013. “Coming to Claim Crip: Disidentification with/in Disability Studies.” Disability Studies Quarterly, 33(2), 2.

Supplemental: Htun.  2004.  “Is Gender Like Ethnicity? The Political Representation of Identity Groups.”  Perspectives on Politics.  2(3): 439-458


 Part IV: Obama and Multiculturalism

 Weeks 10 & 11: The Age of Obama: Black Leadership and Postracial America

 November 3:

·         Jeffries, Chapters 1-2

 November 5:

·         Jeffries Chapter 3

 November 10:

·         Jeffries Chapter 4

 November 12:

·         Jeffries Chapters 5-6

 Week 12: The Politics of Immigration (Not Quite Postracial)

 November 17:

·         Guest Speaker: Professor Mara Sidney

·         See Immigration Folder (Week 12) for assigned readings to discuss with Professor Sidney

 Upload Final Essay Outline to Blackboard

 November 19:

·         Virtual Peer Review of Essay Outline Due on Blackboard


 November 24:

·         Research Day

 November 26:

·         No Class – University-wide Break


Part V: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion

 Week 14: Politics and Religion

 December 1:

·         Butler, A. D. (2014). The Black Church: From Prophecy to Prosperity. Dissent, (1), 38.

·         “Black Liberation Theology, In Its Founder’s Words: An Interview with James H. Cone.” NPR (Recording and Transcript).

·         Harris, F. “Religious Institutions and African American Political Mobilization” in Religious Institutions. 

 December 3:

·         Nordlund, C., Djupe, P., & Owens, M. L. 2013. “Variation Within?: Exploring Intra-Congregational Differences in a Black Political Church.” Journal of Political Science, 41.

·          In-Class Documentary

 Week 15: Final Week

 December 8: Free topic! You Decide!

 December 10: Final Class, wr