Race, Reparation & Identity

Racial and ethnic identity are variously and divergently interpreted and understood in the United States and elsewhere, frequently in ways that perpetuate pre-existing norms of power and privilege. As such, many well-intentioned people in American society are uncomfortable talking about race, ethnicity, class, religion, or level of education with people outside of their own perceived groups. A primary goal of this course is to enhance our inner selves by opening the doors leading to analytic and honest discussion about these intersecting aspects of our contemporary identities. We strive to discuss aspects of race and racial identity that often get overlooked in conversations around equality, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In this course we read theoretical and ethnographic writings about the ways in which these identity elements operate. Readings from W.E.B. DuBois, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Mica Pollock frame our discussion. We add the human, existential, and visceral dimensions that have afflicted racialized slaves of the Americas as well the more recent descendants of those racialized slaves. For example, we ask in this course:

Why are Black and brown people in the United States still lagging behind others in home ownership, skilled labor-readiness, and access to ancestral wealth?

In what ways do non-Black people benefit from the history of mass racialized enslavement of Black people in America?

Where do notions of God, religion, and brother/sister-hood fit into this discourse, in regards to how we understand struggle, sacrifice, and salvation?

This is a course of exploration, self-exploration, and spiritual nurture. Students are encouraged to re-imagine some aspects of history and of themselves, to acknowledge overlooked realities of economics and politics, and to consider some new and some old insights into race, reparation, and healing.

Min-Max Credit Hours: 1.0-1.0