1) Length of the paper: 4-5 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman, font 12
The prerequisite for approaching this topic is your familiarity with the current situation with the protests for racial justice around the country and the world
Use at least 5 substantial sources on the problem of race and social justice, such as the readings from your textbook or the ones posted on the course website. You can use other sources as well, but if you are not sure about the appropriateness of the source, consult with your instructor. All articles that you relied on should be cited at the end of your paper.
Pasting from sources without quoting them counts as plagiarizing and will automatically merit zero points.
3) Your paper should address the following 5 major themes. Though you do not need to address all the questions listed below, use them as a guideline for your reflections. Optimally, dedicate one page to each theme.
3.1. Racial identity
Describe your personal experience as a person belonging to a certain race. How important is racial identity for your sense of self and your cultural identity? Can you imagine yourself having a different racial identity? Do you have close friends of a different race? How often are you in communication with members of races different from yours? Have you ever been in a context where you were a sole representative of your race and how did it make you feel? If you noticed people socializing and segregating based on the racial criteria, how does it make you feel and why do you think they do this? Do you think it is possible to be race or color blind, i.e. to not pay attention at all to someone’s racial identity?
3.2 Racial stereotypes, racial insensitivity
Do you believe you rely on racial or even racist stereotypes when thinking about members of other races, or your own race? Do you think qualifying different races by attributing positive features could be described as racist? Were you ever on the receiving end of such stereotyping and insensitive remarks? How did it make you feel? Why do you think people resort to using racial stereotypes? Do you think the so called ‘political correctness’ succeeded in reducing our racial insensitivity or has it made people more hypocritical and possibly had other effects? Do you think we can avoid using such stereotypes and how? Can one make jokes using racial stereotypes?
3.3. Discrimination, racist behavior
Most people agree that discriminating based on race, using hate speech, or insulting and attacking someone based on their race is wrong. Still, we witness a lot of examples of racist behavior, racial profiling and discrimination based on race. Currently, our nation has been awoken by the death of George Floyd and is seeing protests against racism in the police force and racial injustice in general. Describe or refer to one example of discrimination or racism that has impacted you personally the most. Why do you think people discriminate against other races and become racists? How do you think their attitude could be changed? How can we raise the level of empathy with the minorities that have been harmed and discriminated against for so long? (I recommend reading George Yancy: Dear White America, the letter to white Americans that still provoked a lot of backlash.)
3.4 Institutional/systemic racism
Read the article by Peggy McIntosh: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
Which of the privileges listed resonate with you, confirm your experience, or, in case you are white, are the ones you have never thought about before? To what extent were you aware of the institutional racism before the current protests started? How do you think becoming aware of such privileges can change one’s treatment of the discriminated minorities? Do you think current protests are succeeding in changing people’s minds? To what degree are racial inequalities intertwined with other inequalities, such as gender or class inequalities? Why do you think there hasn’t historically been much solidarity between the white poor and the poor minorities? How do you think we can restructure our society to avoid social inequalities and injustices? Should the question about race be removed from the census questionnaire, job applications, college applications, etc. or should we stick to racial categories for historical and cultural reasons or reasons of social policy?
3.5. Rethinking history
To what degree is the history of the US officially taught in schools racially biased and in which way do you think we need to rethink it? Give me one concrete example of the change that you think would be needed. What do you think is the right policy regarding the monuments and symbols that celebrate racist historical figures and institutions? Is there any way we can atone for or reduce the harms done in the past? Do you think renewed calls for reparations are justified? How do you think the United States should think of itself moving into the future?
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