Week 11: Reparations and Reconciliation

Week 11 (11/15): Reparations and Reconciliation

Week 10: Mass Incarceration

Week 10 (11/8): Mass incarceration  

  • Book: Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. The New Press. Available for purchase: http://newjimcrow.com/about/buy 

Two of our incredible students at Brown, Emma Storbeck and Kristen Iemma, put together an extensive lesson plan and resource list for our class on campus, and gave me permission to share on the blog. The google doc version can be found here. Please credit them if you use these materials!

Militarization of the Police:

The Marshall Project’s data on DoD contributions to local police departments

The Crisis of Police Militarization, from the New Yorker

  • What is the relationship between the “war on drugs” and the militarization of the police?
  • What kind of effect has this “war” rhetoric had on the way police departments function?
  • Compare the DoD contributions to Providence and the hometown of one or two people in your group. Are these statistics surprising to you?

Precedent and Intentionality of the War on Drugs

The Opium Exclusion Act of 1909

Reasons we started the War on Drugs: https://www.attn.com/stories/1503/war-on-drugs-real-reason

John Erlichman, aid to Richard Nixon: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

  • How have our conceptions of criminality been historically linked to drug use, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism?
  • What is your reaction to the quote from John Erlichman?
  • How is this quote in dialogue with The New Jim Crow? What are some ways that Michelle Alexander identifies as strategies that the Nixon administration (and the presidents that followed) employed in order to criminalize being Black and being a leftist?


Disproportionate Criminalization of Additional Communities:

LGBTQ People and Mass Incarceration

Additional information on transgender people and incarceration

Quartz article on Native Americans in the carceral system

  • How do we create conceptions of “criminals”?
  • Which communities are visibly absent from The New Jim Crow?
  • In what ways are these communities differently impacted by issues of mass incarceration?

Monetization of Prisons and Prison Labor:

Watch minute 1:06:00 through 1:09:30 in Netflix’s 13th

List of companies that utilize prison labor

  • How does force fit into the conversation about mass incarceration and monetization of prisons and prison labor?
  • How does the monetization of the prison system incentivize incarceration? Who are some of the beneficiaries of this system?
  • Conversations about capitalism and mass incarceration can sometimes serve to focus solely on the evils of private prisons, but less on the other, many ways that the government, law enforcement, and corporations financially benefit from the prison industrial complex. How can we problematize private prisons while simultaneously challenging the very existence of prisons themselves?

More Information

Further Reading


Teaching Resources

  • Teaching The New Jim Crow -great set of resources for those teaching this text to high school students (from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the SPLC)

Ways to get involved

  • NYPL Correctional Services -The NYPL runs one of the largest reference letter services for incarcerated people in the country. People incarcerated in the US do not have access to the internet, and are therefore reliant upon library reference requests for many of their information needs. The NYPL is always in need of volunteers to help answer these reference questions.
  • Black & Pink, which is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other

Documentaries and films

  • 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay
  • The House I Live In, by Eugene Jarecki


Week 9: CRT in Education

Student walk out in Boston, March 2016

How is Critical Race Theory a useful frame for understanding the field of education and the existing racial disparities in education? Does CRT force us to question some of our biggest civil rights “wins” in education? How have scholars used CRT as a theoretical frame for educational research that challenges the centrality of whiteness and deficit frames in research?

Week 9 (11/1): CRT in Education


Week 8: Counterstorytelling, CRT Methodologies

Honouring My Spirit Helpers (Collection of the Seventh Generation Midwives (Toronto), http://christibelcourt.com/)

What are the ways CRT is both theory and method? How can CRT inform research? What is counter-storytelling and how can it be used to further the goals of CRT?

Week 8 (10/25): Counterstorytelling, CRT Methodologies

  • Delgado Bernal, D. (2002). Critical Race Theory, Latino Critical Theory, and Critical Raced‐Gendered epistemologies: Recognizing students of color as holders and creators of knowledge. Qualitative Inquiry, 8(1), 105‐126. Delgado Bernal 2002
  • Duncan, G.A. (2006). Critical Race Ethnography in Education: Narrative, Inequality and the Problem of Epistemology. In A.D. Dixson and C.K. Rousseau (Eds.) Critical Race Theory in Education: All God’s Children Got a Song. (191-212). New York: Routledge. ftp://ftp.uwc.ac.za/users/DMS/DMS%20vidComplete/CSI%20WEBSITE/CSI_SANPAD/16295807.pdf
  • Solórzano, D. G. & Yosso, T. J. (2002). Critical Race Methodology: Counter-Storytelling as an analytical framework for education research. Qualitative Inquiry, 8(1), 23-44. Critical Race Methodology–Solorzano and Yosso
  • Bell, D. (1992). The space traders. Faces at the bottom of the well: The permanence of racism, 175-76. http://whgbetc.com/the-space-traders.pdf

Week 7: Offshoots

What are CRT “offshoots”? Where and why did they emerge? How do different communities take up their “Crits”? Are there potential limitations of offshoots?

Week 7 (10/18): Offshoots

You will choose four articles from the list below; you will be responsible for reporting the key tenets of your “offshoots” back to the class. Facilitators for this week will be responsible for facilitating conversations between and among the groups, while also asking broader questions of “dilution” of CRT, specificity, black-white binaries, etc.


  • Misawa, Mitsunori (2012). “Social Justice Narrative Inquiry: A Queer Crit Perspective,” Adult Education Research Conferencehttp://newprairiepress.org/aerc/2012/papers/34
  •  Johnson, E. P. (2001). ” Quare” studies, or (almost) everything I know about queer studies I learned from my grandmother. Text and Performance Quarterly21(1), 1-25.Quare studies–Johnson 2001


  • Salis Reyes, Nicole Alia. 2017. A Space for Survivance: Locating Kānaka Maoli through the Resonance and Dissonance of Critical Race Theory. Race Ethnicity and Education, (In Press). Since this text is in press, I’m unfortunately unable to share. It will be coming out in the next issue, and I’ll post then. It’s really great! 


  • Annamma, S. A., Connor, D., & Ferri, B. (2013). Dis/ability critical race studies (DisCrit): Theorizing at the intersections of race and dis/ability. Race Ethnicity and Education16(1), 1-31. DisCrit




Week 6: Racism without Racists (Colorblind Racism)


This week we explore the concept of “colorblind racism” and the concept of a “postracial” society introduced after the election of President Obama. What rhetorical strategies do white folks use to distance themselves from structural racism?

Week 6 (10/11): Colorblind Racism, Myths of “postracial”

  • Book: Bonilla-Silva, E. (2017). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. Rowman & Littlefield.

Week 5: Whiteness

This week we examine whiteness, white privilege, white fragility, and the role of white educators and activists in Critical Race Theory scholarship. As we come to terms with the horror of the Las Vegas shooting, how do we have real conversations about the protections of whiteness?

Week 5 (10/4): Whiteness


Week 4: Settler Colonialism and TribalCrit

Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock, September 2016

This week we start to engage ideas around settler colonialism, and the ways the racialization of Indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans emerged with and through the process of colonization in (what is now known as) the United States. Often conversations about race and racism ignore indigenous peoples, or fail to address the role of ongoing settler colonialism in creating racial stratification. The readings offer theoretical foundations into understanding just what settler colonialism is (and what it shares and how it differs from other forms of colonialism), as well as two Indigenous scholars approaches to CRT and indigeneity. Native identity is both racialized and also political/legal (Native peoples in the US are considered a racial group as well as citizens of sovereign nations), which we will work to unpack and put in conversations about racial formations and the tenets of CRT.

Questions to ask yourself this week: Whose land are you on? Which tribal nation(s) specifically? How are the Native people in your community represented (or not)? For non-Native people: in what ways have you benefitted and continue to benefit from settler colonialism?

Week 4 (9/27): Settler Colonialism and Tribal Crit


  • Castagno, A. E. (2005). Extending the bounds of race and racism: Indigenous women and the persistence of the Black-White paradigm of race. Urban Review, 37(5), 447-468. (Link)
  • Coulthard, G. S. (2014). Red skin, white masks: Rejecting the colonial politics of recognition.
  • Grande, S. (2015). Red pedagogy: Native American social and political thought. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2014). An indigenous peoples’ history of the United States. Beacon Press.
  • The Standing Rock Syllabus: https://nycstandswithstandingrock.wordpress.com/standingrocksyllabus/ 

Week 3: CRT tenets


This week we read Critical race theory: An introduction, which can be purchased here, or Brown users can access for free through the library. There is also a pdf linked, but if you are able I encourage you to purchase the text and support the authors and their work. We will learn about the history, origins, central tenets, and debates surrounding CRT, and delve more deeply into intersectionality. Intersectionality has become a buzzword as of late, but what does it actually mean?

Learning goals for the week:

  • identify the central tenets of CRT
  • learn the history and origins of CRT
  • discuss intersectionality and the ways it is used/misused in popular culture
  • discuss debates surrounding CRT

Selected discussion questions (from the book–each chapter ends with discussion questions):

1. Is critical race theory pessimistic? Consider that it holds that racism is ordinary, normal, and embedded in society, and, moreover, that changes in relationships among the races (which include both improvements and turns for the worse) reflect the interest of dominant groups, rather than idealism, altruism, or the rule of law. Or is it optimistic, because it believes that race is a social construction? (As such, it should be subject to ready change.) And if CRT does have a dark side, what follows from that? Is medicine pessimistic because it focuses on diseases and traumas?

2. Most people of color believe that the world contains much more racism than white folks do. What accounts for this difference?

3. If society agreed to think only the kindest of thoughts about people of color, would their condition improve very much? How much, and in the short or the long run?

4. If society agreed to treat everyone, including people of color, exactly the same, would the condition of communities of color improve very much? Again, in the short or the long run?

5. Are stories based on firsthand experience, for example, racial discrimination at a department store, irrefutable (because only the author was there), and, if so, how can other scholars build on or criticize them? Are they power moves? Exclusionary? Useful, raw experience or data?

6. Would it not be logical for blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans to unite in one powerful coalition to confront the power system that is oppressing them all? If so, what prevents them from doing so?


Week 3 (9/20): CRT Foundations and Tenets


Permanence of racism:

  • Bell, D. (1987). And we are not saved: The elusive quest for racial justice. New York: Basic Books.
  • Bell, D. (1993). Faces at the bottom of the well: The permanence of racism. New York: Basic Books.
  • Bell, D. (2000). Wanted: A White leader able to free Whites of racism. UC Davis Law Review, 33(3), 527-544. http://lawreview.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/33/3/Barrett/DavisVol33No3_Bell.pdf


  • Hancock, A.-M. (2007). When multiplication doesn’t equal quick addition: Examining intersectionality as a research paradigm. Perspectives in Politics, 5(1), 63-79. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20446350
  • Han, C.-s. (2008). No fats, femmes, or Asians: The utility of critical race theory in examining the role of gay stock stories in the marginalization of Asian men. Contemporary Justice Review, 11(1), 11-12.
  • Patton, L. D., & Simmons, S. L. (2008). Exploring complexities of multiple identities of lesbians in a Black college environment. The Negro Educational Review, 59(3), 197-215. Link (EBSCO)
  • Hancock, A.-M. (2005). W.E.B. DuBois: Intellectual forefather of intersectionality? Souls, 7(3), 74-84. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10999940500265508

Interest Convergence:

  • Bell, D. A. (1979). Brown v. Board of Education and other interest convergence dilemma. Harvard Law Review, 93(3), 518-534. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1340546
  • Donnor, J. K. (2005). Towards an interest-convergence in the education of African American student athletes in major college sports. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 45-67.
  • Dudziak, M. L. (1988). Desegregation as a cold war imperative. Stanford Law Review, 41(1), 61-120. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1228836
  • Harper, S. R. (2009). Race, interest convergence, and transfer outcomes for Black male student athletes. In L. S. Hagedorn & D. Horton (Eds.), Student athletes and athletics. New Directions for Community Colleges (No. 147, Fall 2009, pp. 29-37). https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d627/5bf0d607b84a60509f0c6616da9ece0491bc.pdf
  • Milner, H. R. (2008). Critical Race Theory and interest convergence as analytical tools in teacher education policies and practices. Journal of Teacher Education, 59(4), 332-346. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0022487108321884
  • Taylor, E. (2000). Critical Race Theory and interest convergence in the backlash against affirmative action: Washington State and Initiative 200. Teachers College Record,102(3), 539-560.

Week 2: Racial Formations

This week we delve into the ideas of race as a social construction. What does that actually mean, and in what ways has race been “made real” as well as malleable through law, policy, and history in the United States?

Week 2 (9/13): Racial Formations


Take two Harvard Implicit Assumption Tests (IAT): https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html (“Race IAT” and “Native IAT”)

AFTER you take the tests, read this article.


Positionality Paper : This short paper (1-2pgs) asks you to understand your own relationship to the topic of the course, and help the instructor to better shape the content and direction of the course. What is your prior experience with CRT? What experiences in your life have shaped your relationships to the course topic? How do your various identities intersect and inform your relationship to CRT?

Tweet out thoughts, questions, and reflections using #IntroCRT17 #Week2