Fall 2023

Whitewashing Race

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-380  |  Black Studies, as BLST-380


Ron Lembo (Section 01)


(Offered as SOCI-380 and BLST-380)  This course examines the rise of colorblind discourse in the United States and the ways it has shaped views of race and racism from the civil rights era to the present day. Distinguishing between liberal and conservative versions of colorblindness, we will explore key ideas--of individualism, the market economy, merit, race and ethnicity, and affirmative action, among others—and situate them amidst more broad-based economic, political, and cultural transformations. We will assess the empirical evidence for the major assertions of colorblindness across key dimensions of racial inequality in American social life: the market economy, employment, housing, education, criminal justice, and health care, including effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Colorblind accounts and their critics place particular emphasis on the fate of Black communities and lives, and this will figure importantly in our assessment of their work. The course concludes with a discussion of contemporary social movements regarding race, both colorblind and race-conscious varieties, considering the aims and outcomes of their activism, including the impact on mainstream policymaking and communities of color.

Limited to 20 students. Admission with consent of instructor. Fall semester. Professor Lembo.

Pending Faculty Approval

How to handle overenrollment: First priority given to senior and junior sociology majors, then senior & junior black studies majors, then seniors & juniors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: written work, readings, and independent research.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023