Writing Commentaries on Race, Class and Gender

7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Thursdays | Fall 2018 | Credits: TBD

Mike Tucker, Instructor | 703-864-2025 | DoWriteMan@gmail.com

A course designed to propel Journalism, Communication and Public Relations students into the spotlight as columnists, broadcast commentators and spokespersons for news media, civic groups and government agencies that deal with race, class and gender issues. Participants will receive a thorough briefing of contemporary research and will be required to read several leading writers whose unique contributions have led to greater understanding of the issues. Finally, students will be required to write critical essays on the literature, and blog on race, class and gender issues for school or local media outlets.

Course Description:

Race may be America’s greatest paradox. A country founded upon liberty and the belief that all men are created equal interned thousands of Japanese-Americans shortly after Pearl Harbor; left thousands of Native Americans dead during a forced relocation known as the Trail of Tears, and enslaved blacks for two centuries, then denied them full citizenship for decades after the 13th Amendment was adopted. But color is just one measure of discrimination or distinction. Customs and social institutions help define our culture, while society crams us into perceived social and economic boxes to characterizes our class. And the glass ceiling, while cracked, is still intact, as women continue to fight for pay equity and against sexual harassment.

Course Objectives:

Students will:

  • Explore contemporary race, class, and gender issues through original research, journalism, readings, discussions, and visits by guest speakers
  • Incorporate personal experience and original reporting to hone their unique skills
  • Create compelling copy that sheds new light on relations between the races, and between class and gender groups
  • Create a public archive of stories and blogs, which means the highest standards in research, reporting, and writing is fostered

Required Materials

-Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study (10th Edition). Paula S. Rothenberg. ISBN: 978-1464178665.

The Art of Opinion Writing: Insider Secrets from Top Op-Ed Columnists. Suzette Martinez Strandring. 978-0989884860.

-Articles, audio/visual content as assigned by the instructor.

Expectations

  • Students should arrive on time, having reviewed assigned materials, and participate
  • Missing class is permitted (with prior approval from instructor) for illness, emergency or internship-related An absence for any other reason will be penalized.
  • Students are expected to do their own work and you are expected cite
  • Students should discuss in advance with the instructor any needed

Semester Grading Scale based on 1000 Points (TBD)

A: 930-to-1000 points. | A-: 900-to-929.

B+: 870-to-899 points. | B: 830-to-869. | B-: 800-to-829.

C+: 770-to-799 points. | C: 730-to-769. | C-: 700-to-729.

D+: 670-to-699 points. | D: 630-to-669. | F: 629 or below.

Assignment Grading Scale

Attention/Participation: 100 points.

Project Assignments: 500 points. | Midterm: 150 points. | Final: 250 points.

Project Assignments:

Project 1 (100 points) — Write a 1000-word profile of a private, public or government agency that grapples with race, class and gender issues as part of its mission or mandate. Be certain to include a brief history of its origins, its most celebrated moments and its blueprint for future action. An interview with an official would provide a contemporary feel to the piece. 

Project 2 (200 points) — Read The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. Summary: In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves. Write a 2000-word comparative essay on your family’s experience in or coming to America with. Feel free to compare events, figures or anything that helps readers clearly see the similarities and differences, including cultural and racial challenges. In addition to traditional sources, several interviews with family members would add an authentic tone.

Project 3 (200 points) — Read Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. Summary: From a former Marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing, passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never been written about (with searing detail) from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. Write a 2000-word persuasive essay juxtaposing several theories on white privilege with the family struggles detailed in Hillbilly Elegy. Your point of view may be based on social, economic and/or political grounds but should provide context for race, class and/or gender challenges encountered by the family and many Americans. Include statistics in your argument.

Weekly Class Schedule

Week 1:

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg textbook—Part I: The Social Construction of Difference: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality.

Constructing Race, Creating White Privilege

·      The Invention of Heterosexuality

·      Debunking the Pathology of Poverty

Standring textbook

·      Op-Ed, Then and Now

Classroom Activity

·      Course Overview

·      Syllabus Review

·      Discuss Reading Assignment

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg textbook—Part II: Understanding Racism, Sexism, Heterosexism, and Class Privilege.

·      Color-Blind Racism

·      Homophobia as a Weapon of Sexism

·      Class in America

Week 2

Project 1 Due

Standring textbook

·      The Personal is Political

Classroom Activity

·      Success Principles that develop leadership skills

·      Discuss Reading Assignment

·      The Writing Process—a general introduction.

Week 3

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg textbook—Part III: Complicating Questions of Identity: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration.

  • Illegal Aliens and the Making of America
  • For Many Latinos, Racial Identity is More Culture than Color
  • The Myth of the Model Minority

Standring textbook

  • Saying More in Less than 450 Words

Classroom Activity

  • Discuss Reading Assignment
  • Writing Exercise: Idea Formation—How to Avoid Censoring Yourself
  • Guest Speaker Pending

Week 4

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg—Part IV: Discrimination in Everyday Life.

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
  • Policing Gender, Policing Sex
  • Where “English Only” Falls Short

Standring

  • The Intersection of Race, Sports and World Events

Classroom Activity

  • Discuss Reading Assignment
  • Writing Exercise: Research – What’s Out There Can Help

Week 5

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg—Part IV: Discrimination in Everyday Life.

  • Women in the State Police: Trouble in the Ranks
  • Race and Family Income of Students Influence Guidance Counselor’s Advice
  • Pollution, Poverty and People of Color: A Michigan Tribe Battles a Global Corporation

Standring

  • Peace, Healing and Op-Ed

Classroom Activity

  • Discuss Reading Assignment
  • Writing Exercise: Reporting – Beyond the 5W & H

Week 6

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg—Part V: The Economics of Race, Class, and Gender.

  • Wealth Inequality Has Widened Along Racial, Ethnic Lines Since End of Great Recession
  • Immigration Enforcement as a Race-Making Institution
  • For Asian Americans, Wealth Stereotypes Don’t Fit Reality

Standring

  • The Best Opinion Writing Tells a Story

Classroom Activity

  • Discuss Reading Assignment
  • Writing Exercise: Organization – What Are You Trying to Say?
  • Guest Speaker Pending.

Week 7

Project 2 Due

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg—Part V: The Economics of Race, Class, and Gender.

  • Gender and the Black Jobs Crisis
  • The New Face of Hunger
  • Cause of Death: Inequality

Standring

  • Investigative Op-Ed and Higher Purpose

Classroom Activity

  • Discuss Reading Assignment

Writing Exercise: Draft – Get the First One Done, then Move On

Week 8

MIDTERM

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg—Part VI: Issues of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Everyday Life.

  • Civilize Them with a Stick
  • Crossing the Border Without Losing Your Past
  • Between the World and Me

Standring

  • Politics and Transformation Over Time

Classroom Activity

  • Discuss Reading Assignment
  • Writing Exercise: Editing – Check Grammar AND Content

Week 9

SPRING BREAK

No class meeting but keep up with the news.

Week 10

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg—Part VI: Issues of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Everyday Life.

  • This Person Doesn’t Sound White
  • My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK
  • The Unbearable (In)visibility of Being Trans

Standring

  • Rising Above Presumptions and Labels

Classroom Activity

  • Discuss Reading Assignment

Writing Exercise: Rewrite – The Ultimate Tweak

Week 11

Field Visit to public or private entity that deals with race, class or gender such as EEOC, NAACP, NOW, DOJ.

Week 12

Project 3 Due

Reading Assignment

Rothenberg—Part VII: How It Happened: Race and Gender Issues in U.S. Law.

  • Indian Tribes: A Continuing Quest for Survival
  • The “Three-Fifths Compromise”

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