• Summer 2015 : African American Studies 111 Race, Class and Gender in the United States

    • Tues, Thurs, 3.30-5.00pm
    • Small
    • B5 Hearst Annex
    • 3

    The goal of this course is to describe, interpret and explain the circumstances of African Americans, with regard to race, class and gender stratification in the United States at the present time. We begin with an overview of the facts of inequality and racial inequality today - how the rich got richer and the poor got poorer since the recession began in 2008. We continue with consideration of key concepts, including wealth, income and inequality; racialization, racism and ethnicity; sex, gender and the gender division of labor; feminism and Black feminism; and globalization and international migration. We also consider concepts of Black Nationalism, and Black leadership. We briefly explore the historical background to contemporary stratification by considering theories of ‘the declining significance of race’ (as argued by William Julius Wilson) and the move from plantation to ghetto, and then from ghetto to penitentiary as controlling institutions used against African Americans (as argued by Loic Wacquant). The debate around reparations – the demand for monetary and other forms of compensation to the descendants of Africans that were kidnapped, transported and enslaved in what became the United States - will form the connective tissue between the past and present.


    We consider how Black women and girls have been neglected in the larger debates on these issues (as argued by Nikki Jones), and how consideration of them complicates the analysis of Black people today. During this analysis we consider the role of economics, politics, demography, class relations, and racist ideologies in the prevalent patterns of stratification; and the role of Black leadership and cultural strategies in reducing inequality.  Particular attention is paid to the role of economics in shaping patterns of racialized stratification and inequality. We also consider the principles underlying federal policies for alleviating racial inequality and promoting equal opportunities. 


    Throughout the course we consider the impact of gender ideologies on these experiences, and we distinguish the experiences of men and women. We consider how the rich use their wealth to remain rich; and how a series of institutional obstacles continue to prevent success for poor people, especially African Americans. We will also examine the changing relationship of racist images and racialized structures in the age of Obama and the supposed ‘post-racial’ society; and assess how globalization impacts African Americans. As the course unfolds we will also consider the unique experiences of African Americans in California as compared with African Americans across the United States in general, to assess how common patterns across the United States compare with unique patterns and experiences in California. Most of the time we will focus on African Americans; but we will also consider how their experiences compare with those of other Blacks, especially West Indians and Africans born abroad, but whose children are born/raised in the United States.


    By the end of the semester, students should be able—in college-level writing and in oral expression—to describe and analyze the changing circumstances of African Americans in the United States today; the key dimensions of racial inequality and stratification; and to articulate the key concepts used to explain these patterns.

    AAS 111 LEC 001
    Instructor: Stephen Small
    Fall 2015
    Tues, Thurs, 3.30-5.00pm
    Location: B5 Hearst Annex
    3 Units

    For more information visit: bcourses.berkeley.edu or contact small@berkeley.edu