Race, Class, & Immigration

American Popular Culture

This course is a survey of American cultural history since the mid- 19th century with an emphasis on the consistent interplay between white and black culture that ultimately produces a set of specifically American cultural forms. We will also examine the historical development of the commodification of an urban, consumer-oriented American mass culture that enveloped diverse groups of Americans as producers and consumers. We will examine the minstrel impulse as it plays out over time and in an ever-changing set of political, economic, and social circumstances. We will study key elements of the culture such as theatrical entertainment, music, cinema, television, and sports – all through the lens of race and commodification. Learn more here.

The Ideology of Black Liberation: 1948-1975

This class is focused on the ideas that that underpinned Black liberation movements from the end of World War Two until the mid-1970s. Much time is spent in academic settings exploring the classical (or the “good”) phase of the civil rights movement – peaceful demonstrations, church centered protests, sits ins, etc.  Black Nationalism and other Black liberation movements such as the Black Power movement are taught largely as a reaction to the failure of the earlier phase of the civil rights movement to make good on its promises.  While there is some truth in this claim it is important to understand that even before the passive resistance phase of the civil rights movement began a parallel far more radical strand of Black politics existed.  The Black Panther Party did not spring suddenly from the brains of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.  The ideas of armed struggle, Pan-Africanism, and anti-colonial revolution…

Teaching the Next Generation to Keep a Low Profile: The Chilling Consequences of the #MuslimBan

By Shayna Plaut, Human Rights Contributing Editor

Six summers ago, I made a new friend. She was 7 years old. I was a guest at what I assumed would be a stodgy and staid academic picnic, when the unmistakable sound of a child’s glee made me stop in my tracks. I looked over to see who was laughing with such genuine abandon. A little girl was literally in the air, being swung around by her arms. I knew I needed to meet this little person, as well as the big person who had raised such a live and open spirit.

Donald Trump’s refugee ban, explained

https://youtu.be/sAwFLtbc7_c Trump signed an executive order Friday afternoon that bans all immigrants and visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days, and opens the door to more country-based bans in future. It also bans all refugee admissions for 120 days — and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. It slashes the US’s refugee quota for 2017 to less than half of the level set by President Obama, directs the US to prioritize “religious minorities” for the remaining slots, and bars all refugees from countries that aren’t specifically approved by the US government. And it tasks the federal government with coming up with a new process to screen everyone hoping to immigrate to the US, one that requires each individual immigrant to prove she or he would be a “positively contributing member of society.” Legal challenges to the order have already begun, and the Trump Administration and Department of…

Luke Cage: An Exploration of Black Identity

By Marquise Griffin

“Man, it is what it is.
You can’t understand a man
if you ain’t live what he lived.”
            -Method Man “Bulletproof Love”

I have a vivid memory of being in the Chicago Union Amtrak station in 2014, waiting for my next train, while CNN footage of Eric Garner being choked to death by New York’s finest played on a loop on the TV screens. Until that point, I had managed to avoid seeing the video since part of me dies each time I see my brethren unjustly killed. I felt disgusted seeing the video, not only because I was not prepared to view it, but also because of the (non)reactions of the people around me. The ones staring at the screen looked impassive, unbothered by the repeated display of Garner surrounded by several officers, as the caption stated that Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who grabbed Garner by the neck, would not be indicted. It occurred to me that while video footage has provided undeniable proof of police violence against Black and Brown people, the public is nevertheless largely unsympathetic to our lived experiences. Repeatedly showing footage of police killing Black people seems to normalize police violence rather than challenging it. This demonstrates that it’s not enough to show that Black and Brown people are killed by police. Critical Race Theory emphasizes that racism has been invisibly normalized in society and asserts the importance of storytelling in order to provide a counter narrative to the dominant hegemony of White supremacy. It is in this context that Luke Cage, a Marvel Netflix original released last year, truly matters and excels.


https://youtu.be/jlPwTMMhGGI Black people are rarely featured in sci-fi and fantasy films — that is, unless that black person is Will Smith. How do black people get to exist in the future? Afrofuturism, a scholarly and artistic movement that imagines the future through black people’s experiences is one answer. The term was coined in 1994 by culture critic Mark Dery in his “Black to the Future” essay.

Facing Stereotypes Through Graffiti

Repost from Teaching Tolerance Classroom Resources: Media Literacy Anti-Bias Domain: Justice Grade Level: Grades 9 to 12 Subject: Reading and Language Arts Overview: This activity deconstructs and assesses how stereotypes affect us unconsciously through the media. Number 44: Summer 2013 In this activity, students assess how stereotypes spread, how we believe some stereotypes unconsciously, and how we can become more aware of the effects of stereotypes on others and ourselves. Because this exercise places students in a vulnerable position, it’s imperative that students trust their peers and feel safe in the classroom. Actions At first, don’t tell students the purpose of the activity. Give students photographs of celebrities and a variety of permanent markers. Tell them to graffiti the photos with stereotypes that could be ascribed to each celebrity. Encourage them to use words and images from their arsenal of slang and symbols. Tell them to be as free with their…

The Black Radical Tradition

Repost from libcom A massive PDF compilation of writings about black radical and revolutionary movements in the US in the 20th century Contents Black Reconstruction – W.E.B. Du Bois What Socialism Means to Us – Hubert Harrison An Appeal to the Conscience of the Black Race to See Itself – Marcus Garvey Program of the African Blood Brotherhood – The African Blood Brotherhood Report on the Negro Question – Claude McKay Application for Membership in the Communist Party – W.E.B. Du Bois The Negro Nation – Harry Haywood An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman! – Claudia Jones The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in US – C.L.R. James Revolutionary Nationalism and the Afro-American – Harold Cruse Is the Black Bourgeoisie the Leader of the Black Liberation Movement? – Harry Haywood with Gwendolyn Midlo Hall The American Revolution – James Boggs Message to Grassroots…

River of Resistance

By Cheryl Johnson-Odim

“Little by little the raindrops swell the river.” (African Proverb)

All over this country, and the world, women (and some male allies) marched on Saturday, January 21st, 2017. Each woman who marched was a rain drop in a river of resistance to an increasing turn by demagogic leaning world leaders toward policies that trample on human rights. For us in the United States those world leaders are Donald Trump and Mike Pence and their allies in the Republican led Congress: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and others.