My independent study is very different from others in the sense that it starts off as an intensive college course and ends with my own research. The course is called “The Sociology of Race, Power and Inequality” and is taught by T. Mauricio Torres ‘08 who actually taught this course at Syracuse University last year.
There is nothing I love more than learning information about which I am very passionate from a teacher who is over the moon excited about this topic and working with me and the other two students in the class. In our first lesson he told us off-the-bat that he did not want to teach us the history of race and race relations in our country in a linear fashion, which is what many other history classes do. Instead, he told us that he wanted to teach us in a spiral fashion. Learning about this history linearly would give us the idea that we have made a lot of progress (not that we haven’t made progress, but it would give us the idea that we are in a “post-racial world”, which is completely untrue). Learning in a spiral fashion gives you a better understanding of our country’s status and what work still needs to be done. It was a very interesting concept to me.
Something that stood out to me in my first class which was themed “Theorizing Racial Inequality in the Post-Civil Rights Moment” was our interesting discussion on a comment made by Clarence Pendleton Jr. in 1985. Pendleton told President Ronald Reagan that the US Commission on Civil Rights was working to create a “colorblind society that has opportunities for all and guarantees success for none.” This excerpt came from Omi and Winant’s 1994 edition of Racial Formation in the United States.
After reading it I was struck by how ignorant Pendleton was and American society was at that time to reality! Colorblind? Isn’t that impossible? People will always have color and it is undeniable that others will not at least recognize it. How did they think that was going to happen? But this quote sparked a great conversation at the end of our class period where we discussed the following questions:
- How does this narrative sit with history?
- Do we want a colorblind society, is this something we should strive for?
- Is a colorblind society possible?
Race is a topic often discussed in my family dinner table conversations, in the classroom, and really everywhere that I go, so taking this class has been incredibly interesting so far! Most of my relationship with race has been personal experiences and a lot of anger as well, so I am excited to learn more factual and historical information, as well as dive deeper into the significance and effect of race in our country today.