Reading Race and Ethnicity


This Study Guide prepared by:

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.

Elaine Bontempi, M.Ed.

Catherine Kerley

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this unit, the learner will be able to

1.      Explain how determinations for race and ethnicity are made.

2.      Describe at least four case studies that involved "reading" race and ethnicity.

3.      Take a position and argue coherently that designations of race are culturally constructed.

4.      Explain the relationship between designations of race and social values and behaviors.

5.      Understand how issues of race and ethnicity contribute to one's definition of self, community, and interpersonal relations..




Tamar Lewin, "Growing Up, Growing Apart". The New York Times June 25, 2000Art Nauman, "Who Picks the Term 'Whites'?" The Quill, Nov-Dec 1993 v81 /n9p26(1).

Tamar Lewin joined The Times in 1982 as a financial reporter. In 1987, she became a national correspondent covering social policy issues. Before coming to The Times, Lewin was with The National Law Journal, where she was managing editor from 1980 to 1982 and Washington bureau chief from 1978 to 1980.

Multiple-Choice Questions

  1. According to Diane Hughes, what race of children was more likely to keep the same friendships throughout their middle and high school years?
    1. Biracial children.
    2. White Children.
    3. Black children.
    4. White children and Biracial Children.
    5. Black children and White children.


  1. At South Mountain Elementary School, friendships are based on
    1. Race.
    2. How much money their families have.
    3. Religion.
    4. What the children have in common with one another.
    5. None of the Above.


  1. Why does Aqeelah feel left out at school?
    1. Her parents are divorced.
    2. She does not know which groups she fits into.
    3. She is biracial.
    4. She does not play sports.
    5. Both b and c are reasons.


4.      At Columbia High School, honors classes are usually comprised as

    1. all white, while low level classes are all black.
    2. mainly white, while middle level classes are mainly black, and low level classes are almost entirely black.
    3. equally mixed, while lower level classes are entirely black.
    4. entirely white, while middle classes and lower level classes are equally mixed.
    5. all equally mixed.


  1. Kelly Regan is
    1. A teacher at Colombia High School.
    2. A tall white Irish Catholic girl.
    3. Best Friends with Aqeelah Mateen and Johanna Perez-Fox.
    4. A black basketball player.
    5. Both b and c.


  1. At the eighth grade sleepover at South Orange Middle School, what did the students write down about why they love their school?
    1. Skittles at lunch.
    2. Interracial Friendships.      
    3. Snow Days.
    4. Both a and b.
    5. All of the above.


  1. Why were the women, responding to the new ethnic names for the Sacramento Bee, upset?
    1. She did not like the term Latino.
    2. She wanted there to be a different term other than white or a color for Caucasians.
    3. Not all Africans are black.
    4. She wanted to make up a new term for Asian Americans.
    5. She noticed there was not a term for people who are biracial.


  1. Jordan Bar Am is
    1. The white student council president.
    2. The Black homecoming King.
    3. Planning to attend Harvard .
    4. On the basketball team.
    5. Both a and c.


  1. Who broke up with their boyfriend?
    1. Aqeelah Mateen.
    2. Johanna Perez-Fox.
    3. Kelly Regan.
    4. Sierre Monk.
    5. Marian Flaxman.


  1.   Why did the Sacramento Bee invent new terms for ethnic groups?
    1. So their readers would know what they are talking about.
    2. To update that paper’s language style rules.
    3. In order to not offend any more of their readers.
    4. To make up some new words for the dictionary.
    5. None of the above.



Before You Read

In the case of biracial individuals, do you tend to think of them as mono-racial, even though they are not?  How do you make that decision, and what are the unconscious cues that go into the process?

After You Read

Develop a strategy for helping students for friendships across racial lines in a multi-racial school.  Would you strive for a race-neutral “ideal school citizen” persona?  What would that be?


Web Links


Columbia High School’s Web page


An article about the benefits of a racially diverse student body


A list of articles that deal about people who are bi-racial


An article about a city wanting to get rid of the word minority

A web page dedicated to diversity and minorities

Georgia Students Plan Integrated Prom,1282,-1677315,00.html


Kwame J. McKenzie, "Race, Ethnicity, Culture, and Science: Researchers Should Understand and Justify Their Use of Ethnic Groups." British Medical Journal, April 27, 1996 v312 n7038 p1054(1).


Dr Kwame McKenzie is a psychiatrist at London's Maudsley Hospital, a former Commonwealth Fellow in the Department, and now a Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.  McKenzie has done critical work on psychosis among Afro-Caribbeans in the United Kingdom and public health strategies to prevent mental illness.

Multiple-Choice Questions


1.                  What is a social construct, which is characterized by the behavior and attitudes of a social group?

a.      Race.

b.      Human genome.

c.     Culture.

d.      Ethnic group.

e.      Genetics.


2.                  Of all the variables which is the most difficult to use?

a.     Ethnic group.

b.      Race.

c.       Culture.

d.      Ethnicity.

e.      Both a and b.


3.                  What determines one’s culture?

a.      Race.

b.      Upbringing.

c.       Choice.

d.      Ethnicity.

e.     Both b and c.


4.                  Modern definitions classify Asians as _____.

a.      Caucasian.

b.     Black.

c.       Non-Hispanic white.

d.      Afro-Caribbean.

e.      None of the above.


5.                  When did Bhopal and colleagues call for a wide debate?

a.      1990.

b.      1995.

c.       1992.

d.    1991.

e.      1989.


6.                  How many papers are indexed under the headings “ethnic groups” or “racial stocks” each year?

a.      1400.

b.      2400.

c.       1500.

d.    2500.

e.      3500.


7.                  The original Blumenbach classification classified Asians as _____.

a.     Caucasian.

b.      African American.

c.       Non-Hispanic.

d.      Other.

e.      American Indian.


8.                  Afro-Caribbean is used to characterize whom?

a.      People with Black ancestry.

b.      People with Hispanic Ancestry.

c.       People with Caribbean Ancestry.

d.      People with Asian ancestry.

e.     Both a and c.


9.                  Racial groups have what percent of genetic variation?

a.      6 percent.

b.      84 percent.

c.     10 percent.

d.      57 percent.

e.      12 percent.


10.              Within a local population what is the percentage of genetic variation?

a.      6 percent.

b.     84 percent.

c.       10 percent.

d.      57 percent.

e.      12 percent.


Before You Read

Do you believe that a person can reconstruct his or her identity and rise above racial and ethnic labels?  Why or why not?  When?  What are limiting factors?

After You Read

What do you think is the future for ethnic, cultural, and racial labeling?  Do you think that the world will tend to be a melting pot of multiracial people, or do you think that people will tend to cling to groups and group identity, using them to feel exclusivity, or to outgroup individuals?  Use two examples to support your position.

Web Links

Charles Cantor, Ph.D. Inequalities and Individualized Medicine


Erick Heroux.  "Do Races Differ? Not Really, DNA Shows."


Surgeon General’s Report.  Mental Health: Culture, Race Ethnicity


Kristen Philipkoski. Gene Map presents race concerns,1286,41619,00.html


Ethnological Classifications.  Blumenbach’s Classification


“Black Men ‘Failed’ by Mental Health System” BBC


Michael Omi, "In Living Color: Race and American Culture" 

Michael Omi is associate professor of Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies.  He received an A.B. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D.  in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Along with Howard Winant, he is the author of Racial Formation in the United States (2nd edition, 1994) and numerous articles on racial theory and politics. He has also written about right-wing political movements (Shifting the Blame: Ideology and Politics in the Post-Civil Rights Era, Critical Sociology, Fall 1992); Asian Americans and race relations ("Out of the Melting Pot and Into the Fire: Race Relations Policy," in The State of Asian Pacific America:  Policy Issues to the Year 2020 (1993); and race and popular culture ("In Living Color: Race and Popular Culture," in Ian H. Angus and Sut Jhally, eds., Cultural Politics in Contemporary America (1989). He teaches courses on the history of Asians in America, on Asian American politics and political movements, and on racial theory and politics. In 1990, he was the recipient of Berkeley's Distinguished Teaching Award.

Multiple-Choice Questions


  1. Which television show won the “Platinum Pit Award”?
    1. In Living Color.
    2. Mad TV.
    3. Friends.
    4. Saturday Night Live.
    5. The Sopranos.


  1. How are Asians portrayed in films?
    1. They are not portrayed in films.
    2. As funny and goofy characters not to be taken seriously.
    3. As sly and sinister characters.
    4. As submissive characters.
    5. As romantically involved characters.


  1. Historically having dark skin in Hollywood does what for an actor?
    1. It makes them very popular.
    2. It allows them to play many different types of racial roles.
    3. It allows them to make more money.
    4. It allows them to always be the hero.
    5. None of the above.


  1. In western films, Hollywood made the Native American into what?
    1. One homogenized Indian, forgetting their tribal characteristics.
    2. Many different Indian tribes, often giving a lesson about each tribe.
    3. An Indian trying to act like an American or European.
    4. Native Americans were not depicted in films.
    5. A tribal chief, only chiefs were ever shown on film.


  1. Many racial minority actors complain about the fact that ­_____.
    1. They never get good food at lunch breaks.
    2. They are always get a role because of their race.
    3. White actors can play any role they want without regard to the race of the role.
    4. They never get to play the part of the romantic lead.
    5. Both b and c are true.


  1. What type of music is characterized as African American music?
    1. Country.
    2. Classical.
    3. R & B.
    4. Heavy metal.
    5. Disco.


  1. Aunt Jemima products are an example of what?
    1. Smart advertising.
    2. People who name their products after themselves.
    3. A racial image.
    4. A politically correct image.
    5. A breakthrough for minorities in the food business.


  1. What are anti-miscegenation laws?
    1. Laws that prohibit minorities from acting the part of white roles in the movies.
    2. The prohibition of sexual images to be seen in the movies.
    3. The prohibition of Asian Americans to be on the radio.
    4. The prohibition of white and non-white marital relations.
    5. Both c and d.


  1. Michael Omi is
    1. The author of the article.
    2. Feels that racism is a pervasive feature in our lives, one that is both overt and inferential.
    3. A professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
    4. He teaches comparative ethnic studies.
    5. All of the above.


  1. Who is Lena Horne?
    1. The star of Madame Butterfly.
    2. An actress who was always cast as a “dumpy, overweight mammy figure”.
    3. An actress who always played the exotic sex object, from which the word “horny” came into being.
    4. An actress famous for playing the role of a geisha girl.
    5. An actress who often played roles showing the tragedy of being of mixed blood.

Before You Read

Think of film representations of ethnicity and race.  Make a list of at least ten racial or ethnic stereotypes commonly found in film.  Provide examples.

After You Read

Do you think that there is evidence that Hollywood racial stereotypes are changing?  Make a list of multiracial or biracial movie stars and write down their roles.  Are these based on stereotypes, and if so, do they undermine or subvert them at all?

Web Links

Michael Omi. A page that has some information about the author


The official site of the NAACP – Fuelling Black Britain - An article about how UK media fuelled race prejudice


Tim Dirks. About the movie, The Birth of a Nation


A Bibliography of Ethnicity in American Film. Hollywood’s History and ethnicities in American Film


James P. Loewen, "'Gone with the Wind': The Absence of Racism in AmericanHistory Textbooks." Lies My Teacher Told Me. Touchstone Books, 1996.

James P. Loewen is a sociologist who spent two years at the Smithsonian Institution surveying twelve leading high school textbooks of American history only to find an embarrassing blend of bland optimism, blind nationalism, and plain misinformation, each that weigh in at an average of 888 pages and almost five pounds. Dr. Loewen is a best-selling author who wrote Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong.  He is an educator who attended Carleton College, earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University, and taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont.

Multiple-Choice Questions

  1.  When was the United States first settled?

            a. 1492.

            b. 1845.

            c. 1526.

            d. 1776.

            e. 1638.


2.  How many of the twelve textbooks portray slavery as an intolerable thing?

            a. 4.

            b. 6.

            c. 1.

            d. 8.

            e. None of the above.


3.  According to most of today’s history books, what was the primary cause of the Civil War?

            a. Blundering politicians.

            b. Slavery.

            c. Differences over tariffs.

            d. The conflict between the agricultural South and the Industrial North.

            e. Differences over internal improvements.


4.  What does racism stem from?

            a. Taking land from and destroying indigenous peoples.

            b. The fact that the George Washington and other politicians had slaves.

            c. The fact that people of different skin color can just not get along.

            d. The enslavement of Africans to work the land.

            e. Both b and d.


5.   What word is missing from most of today’s textbooks’ indexes?

            a. Slavery.

            b. Harriet Tubman.

            c. Civil War.

            d. Race.

            e. None of the above.


6.  Which of the Founding Fathers owned slaves?

            a. Thomas Jefferson.

            b. Patrick Henry.

            c. George Washington.

            d. George Bush.

            e. All of the above, except d.


7.  After the war of the Alamo, all Anglos ordered what?

            a. That all free black people were now slaves.

            b. That all Mexicans were now slaves.

            c. That all free black people must leave Republic of Texas.

            d. That Slavery was abolished.

            e. That Davy Crockett was the president of the Republic of Texas.


8.  What was the key problem during Reconstruction?

            a. Black ignorance.

            b. White violence.

            c. Not enough regulations for blacks and whites.

            d. Many African Americans were still kept as slaves.

            e. African Americans were allowed to take over the Southern government.


9.  The Ku Klux Klan openly dominated which state government?

            a. Oklahoma.

            b. Georgia.

            c. South Carolina.

            d. Louisiana.

            e. Indiana.


10.  In most of today’s U.S. history textbooks, there are no pictures of which of the following?

            a. Slaves.

            b. Plantations.

            c. Lynching.

            d. Slave quarters.

            e. Ku Klux Klan members.

Before You Read

Did your high school textbook include mention of slavery?  If so, what was it and how was it presented?  What ideas did you form about slavery in the pre-Civil War United States?

After You Read

Do you think it would be useful for individuals in high school to read historical documents written by slaves or the descendents of slaves?  How would it help?  Could it do harm?  Does slavery still exist in the United States?  Would reading slave narratives help one identify when de facto slavery is going on today (for example, in the case of illegal aliens smuggled into the United States who have to pay their “coyote” or “snakehead”)?  Use examples to support your claims.

Web Links

The home page of the author, James W. Loewen


a review of the original film – by Tim Dirks About Gone with the Wind


Portal page with information about Thomas Jefferson’s slave ownership The Slave Children of Thomas Jefferson


Teaching Tolerance magazine.


Henry Hampton.  Everyone Feels Jeopardized



Handsome Lake, "How America Was Discovered" (public domain).


Handsome Lake, 1735?1815, Seneca religious prophet; half brother of Cornplanter. After a long illness he had a vision c. 1800, and began to preach new religious beliefs. His moral teachings showed a similarity to Christian ethics and had a profound effect among the Iroquois. He advocated giving up the nomadic Native American life in favor of agriculture, much to the disgust of Red Jacket. Though Christian missionaries opposed Handsome Lake's religion, it nevertheless persisted alongside Christianity.

Multiple-Choice Questions

1.  Who had killed the son of the Creator?

            a. The Chief Cornplanter.

            b. Handsome Lake.

            c. White men.

            d. The great queen.

            e. The young minister.


2.  Where did the young minister think he found the Lord?

            a. On a beautiful island with a castle made of gold.

            b. In America.

            c. On a ship in the middle of a mystical ocean.

            d. Underneath the river in a huge palace.

            e. On a bridge of gold.


3.  Why would one of the preachers not go to find Lord?

            a. He was actually the devil.

            b. He did not believe in the Lord.

            c. He was afraid to meet his Lord.

            d. He had committed many wrongdoings.

            e. None of the above are correct.


4.  What did the handsome man say the people of the land across the ocean were like?

            a. Rich and handsome.

            b. Evil.

            c.  Neurotic.

            d. Honest and single-minded.

            e. Both b and c.


5.  Why did the handsome man give the boy a fiddle?

            a. So he would teach the people across the ocean about music.

            b. He wanted to hear the boy play a song.

            c. He wanted to make the people dishonest.

            d. He wanted to make the men dance with women.

            e. He wanted to make them gamble away their goods.


6.  What happened when the minister stepped over the bridge?

            a. He lost the whiskey.

            b. He killed himself.

            c. The palace and island disappeared.

            d. The handsome man died.

            e. None of the above happened.


7.  Who was the man who appeared in the golden palace?

            a. The Lord.

            b. The Devil.

            c. Chief Cornplanter.

            d. Columbus.

e. The Creator.


  1. Why did the young man not tell the ministers about his bargain?
    1. He was afraid they might kill him.
    2. He wanted to break his bargain.
    3. He lost the cards.
    4. He was afraid the ministers might forestall him.
    5. None of the above is correct.


  1. What did the sailors threaten to do to Columbus if he did not turn back?
    1. Behead him.
    2. Torture him.
    3. Steal his goods.
    4. Desert him in the new land.
    5. Both b and c.


  1.  What would blood corruption do to the people of this new country?
    1. Start a huge epidemic.
    2. Eat their strength.
    3. Rot their bones.
    4. Both b and c.
    5. All of the above.

Before You Read

List the impressions you have of Native Americans prior to 1492.  How do you believe they were living, and how did they respond in the centuries following the arrival of settlers?  List examples.

After You Read

How did this selection change your ideas about the Seneca Indians and the aftermath of the arrival of settlers?

Web Links

Arther C. Parker.  1913. The Code of Handsome Lake:  The Seneca Prophet.


Thomas Jefferson: Indian Addresses.


Handsome Lake Religion


The Seneca Nation of Indians Home Page


“The Cornplanter” Chief of the Seneca Tribe and Principal Chief of the Six Nations from the Period of the Revolutionary War to the Time of His Death. 

Sovereign People



Amy Tan, "Mother Tongue" (+gender) .The Threepenny Review Fall 1990.


Amy Tan was born February 19, 1952 in Oakland, California. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduated from high school in Montreux, Switzerland, and received her master's degree in Linguistics from San Jose State University. Her work has been translated into twenty languages. For her first book, The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan won The National Book Award and the L.A. Times Book Award in 1989. She has been married for the past twenty-some years to Lou DeMattei. They live in San Francisco and New York with their cat, Sagwa, and their dog, Mr. Zo.

Multiple-Choice Questions

  1. What was her mother’s verdict concerning the quality of her novel?
    1. She thought it was boring.
    2. She thought it was hard to read.
    3. She thought it was easy to read.
    4. She thought it was very funny.
    5. She thought it was terrible.


  1. The author’s mother is
    1. Chinese.
    2. Japanese.
    3. Hispanic.
    4. From outer space.
    5. None of the above.


  1. The author’s mother reads
    1. The Forbes report.
    2. The Inquirer.
    3. World News.
    4. Shirley MacLaine’s books.
    5. Both a and d.


  1. During the videotaped conversation, the author’s mother talks about ____.
    1. Her cooking.
    2. Her daughter’s book.
    3. A political gangster in Shanghai.
    4. A famous singer in Shanghai.
    5. Her husband.


  1. The author got better grades in ________ than she did in English.
    1. Reading.
    2. Gym.
    3. Recess.
    4. Math.
    5. Art.


  1. When did the author begin to write fiction?
    1. 1986.
    2. 1997.
    3. 1985.
    4. 1924.
    5. 1915.


  1.  What happened when the author’s mother went to pick up her CAT scan?
    1. She had come at the wrong time.
    2. The doctor gave her the wrong one.
    3. The hospital had lost her CAT scan.
    4. The taxi took her to the wrong hospital.
    5. None of the above happened.


  1. What did the mother do when she needed to speak proper English to someone?
    1. She hired a translator.
    2. She had her daughter do it.
    3. She had her neighbor do it.
    4. She did it herself.
    5. She never talked to anyone.


  1. The author has described her mother’s English as
    1. Broken.
    2. Fractured.
    3. Limited English.
    4. Simple.
    5. All 0f the above.


  1. What book did the author write?
    1. Being Chinese.
    2. The Joy Luck Club.
    3. Romeo and Juliet.
    4. The Cat in the Hat.
    5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.


Before You Read

List the impressions you have of the way that Chinese-American mothers interact with their daughters.  What are your impressions based on?  Do you think that Amy Tan’s descriptions of her mother’s “language challenges” are common to many immigrants? Describe any experiences you have had and how they shaped your perceptions.

After You Read

How did this reading change your perception of Asian-Americans?  List five ways, and explain your thoughts, rationale, and previous beliefs.

Web Links

Orville Schell. Your Mother is in Your Bones


An introduction and historical information about The Joy Luck Club


Amy Tan’s Page


A book review of The Joy Luck Club


An Amy Tan biography


“Sites About the Joy Luck Club” The Internet Public Library.



Jim Mahfood, "True Tales of Amerikkkan History Part II: The True Thanksgiving"

Tempe, Arizona artist, Jim Mahfood is one of these fortunate few. Not only is he a comic book artist and a damn good one, but at the tender age of twenty-three, he has already published several independent comics, written and illustrated his own book for Marvel's Gen X series, and recently illustrated the original Clerks comic. Clerks is based upon the characters created in Kevin Smith's breakout movie of the same title. Although stores were wary about stocking a black and white product, the Clerks comic book was an instant success and the first printing flew off the shelves. In less than a year, the book has gone to fourth printing with over seventy thousand copies in circulation worldwide. Now Smith and Mahfood have collaborated on the new Clerks: The Holiday Special comic, that will be released the second week of December in comic stores nationwide.

Multiple-Choice Questions


  1. What is this reading?
    1. A comic.
    2. A humorous short story.
    3. A novel.
    4. An Cosmopolitan article.
    5. A children’s story.


  1. How many different shirts does Billy wear?
    1. He does not wear a shirt.
    2. 2.
    3. 6.
    4. 9.
    5. 23.


  1. What is Micah's racial heritage?
    1. Japanese.
    2. Caucasian.
    3. Hispanic.
    4. Native American.
    5. African American.


  1. What holiday are the two boys discussing?
    1. Easter.
    2. Christmas.
    3. Labor Day.
    4. Thanksgiving.
    5. Valentine’s Day.


  1. Why does Micah’s family not celebrate Thanksgiving?
    1. They are vegetarian.
    2. It is against their religion.
    3. Micah’s dad says Thanksgiving never happened.
    4. They actually do celebrate Thanksgiving.
    5. Micah’s dad died while trying to shoot a turkey for Thanksgiving.


  1. What does Tonto mean?
    1. Happy-go-lucky.
    2. Crazy.
    3. Smart.
    4. Wise one.
    5. Fool.


  1. What does Micah’s dad say the white man did to his people?
    1. Served them turkey.
    2. Destroyed his people.
    3. Killed their animals.
    4. Gave them shelter.
    5. Taught them to swim.


  1. What does Billy think his dad could do to Micah’s dad?
    1. Kill him.
    2. Teach him to love Thanksgiving.
    3. Beat him up.
    4. Teach him how to properly kill a turkey.
    5. None of the above.


  1. According to Micah, who sent the pilgrims to his people?
    1. Pocahontas.
    2. God.
    3. The Devil.
    4. The Spanish king.
    5. Columbus.


  1. What brand of T-shirt does Billy not wear?
    1. Tommy.
    2. Nike.
    3. Nintendo.
    4. Adidas.
    5. Marlboro.

Before You Read

How do most Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?  Is it a favorite holiday of Native American tribes? Why or why not?  Explain your reasoning.

After You Read

What visual elements in this reading did you find most compelling, and which most illustrated the point of the reading (the irony of Thanksgiving, etc.)?  Explain your reasoning.

Web Links

An interview with Jim Mahfood  NewsAskew Featured Story.


 The Jim Mahfood official website 40oz Comics.


Dennis Ruppert. An article about the holiday of Thanksgiving


Native American Accohannock Living Village 


“National Day of Mourning” Pilgrim Hall Museum. A site about how Native Americans today remember Thanksgiving



Malcolm Gladwell, "The Sports Taboo" The New Yorker May 19, 1997.


In recent years, perhaps no magazine writer has been as reliably unpredictable in his choice of subject matter as The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell has taken on such topics as risk theory; the precipitous drop in New York City's crime rate during the past decade; a grandmother in Chicago who seems to know everybody; hair dye and the world of advertising; the potential demise of blockbuster books; and revisionist theories of early childhood development. Now Gladwell has tied many of these apparently disparate topics together in his first book, The Tipping Point, the subtitle of which -- "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" -- concisely sums up what seems to motivate him as a writer.

Multiple-Choice Questions

1.      The article compares black and whites and their sports ability to

    1. Asians and American Indians and their dance ability.
    2. Boys and girls and their math ability.
    3. Children and adults and their television ability.
    4. Puppets and humans and their social ability.
    5. Both b and c.


  1. The author of the story played in what sport?
    1. Baseball.
    2. Basketball.
    3. Horseshoes.
    4. Track.
    5. Soccer.


  1. Blacks are like _____ and whites are like _______.
    1. Basketball players; hockey players.
    2. African Americans; Caucasians.
    3. Boys; Girls.
    4. Girls; Boys.
    5. None of the above apply.


  1. The author is of what heritage?
    1. African.
    2. Caribbean.
    3. Canadian.
    4. Irish.
    5. West Indian.


  1. According to medical evidence, African-Americans have greater and higher _____ than do white Americans.
    1. Bone mass.
    2. Circulating levels of testosterone.
    3. Human-growth hormone.
    4. Muscle mass.
    5. Characteristics that include all of the above.


  1. In the study at Yale, Kenneth Kidd took samples from what type of people and compared their DNA with DNA from all over the world?
    1. African Pygmy tribes in Nigeria.
    2. African Pygmy tribes in Zaire.
    3. African Pygmy tribes in the Central African Republic.
    4. African Pygmy tribes in Ethiopia.
    5. Both b and c.


  1. In the fifty-six year history of the Putnam mathematical competition, how many of the winners were female?
    1. three.
    2. one.
    3. five.
    4. zero.
    5. three.


  1. The article suggests that due to its findings, Africa was most likely the homeland of
    1. Basketball Players.
    2. Math studies.
    3. Giraffes.
    4. Homo sapiens.
    5. None of the above.


  1. Yale anthropologist Jonathan Marks said that until recently there has been no _____ Michael Jordan either.
    1. White.
    2. American Indian.
    3. Black.
    4. Asian.
    5. Hispanic.


  1.  A boy, who is not doing well in math, usually blames it on
    1. His own lack of motivation.
    2. His teacher.
    3. His parents.
    4. Anything but his ability.
    5. All of the above, except C.


Before You Read

List medical “facts” associated with racial stereotypes. How many of them are based on truth, and how many are outgrowths of cultural beliefs?  Please describe.

After You Read

Do you find this article offensive?  Do you think it accurately depicts a situation and helps to correct stereotypes, or does it reinforce existing racial ones and even perpetuate additional ones, such as gender stereotypes?  How would you rewrite this article? 

Web Links – an archive of my articles A website with articles by the author


African-Americans in the sports arena


African Americans in Sports Quiz


The rise of popular sports among blacks


Why black will beat whites at the Olympics --



Beverly Tatum, "Why Are All the Blacks Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"

Appointed to the Mount Holyoke faculty in 1989, Tatum focuses her work on race relations in America—particularly black families in white America, racial identity in teens, and race in the classroom. She has toured extensively, leading workshops on racial identity development and its impact in the classroom, and has published numerous works on race and educational issues. She earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University in psychology and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prior to joining the Mount Holyoke College faculty, Tatum was an associate professor and assistant professor at Westfield State College and a lecturer at the University of California at Santa Barbara's Department of Black Studies.

Multiple-Choice Questions

      1.  What is the name of the author’s son?

            a. Daniel.

            b. David.

            c.  Samuel.

            d.  William.

            e. Michael.


      2.  How old is the author’s son?

            a. eight-years-old.

            b. fourteen-years-old.

            c. eighteen-years-old.

            d. ten-years-old.

            e. nine-years-old.


      3.   William Cross is a _______.

            a. Sociologist.

            b. Zoologist.

            c. Hypochondriac.

            d.  Pediatrician.

            e. Psychologist.


     4.   In the first stage of Cross’s model, the black child absorbs the beliefs of what culture?

            a. Their mother’s.

            b. African American.

            c. Their friend’s.

            d. White.

            e. Eurocentric.


    5.    The encounter stage forces a young person to acknowledge the personal impact of _____.

            a. Racism.

            b. Height.

            c. Money.

            d. Education.

            e. Both a and b.


6.   The parties of elementary school children are separated by ______.

            a. Race.

            b. Gender.

            c. Money.

            d. Intelligence.

            e. Allergies to chocolate cake.


7.  When David meets adults one of the first questions they ask is?

            a. Are you Cablinasian?

            b. What is your race?

            c. How old are you?

            d. What is your I.Q. level?

            e. How tall are you?


8.  Children begin to explore the question, “Who am I?” at ______.

            a. Birth.

            b. Puberty.

            c. The library.

            d. Adulthood.

            e. Age ten.


9.  Racial grouping begins by _______.

            a. Fifth grade.

            b. Sixth grade.

            c. Third grade.

            d. Seventh grade.

            e. Both b and d.


10.  Racial grouping is a _______ process.

            a.   Developmental.

            b.   Damaging.

            c.   Vital.

d.      Life threatening.

e.      Hilarious.

Before You Read

When you were in grade school, junior high, and high school, did you feel comfortable with a particular group?  Could the group be defined in terms of race?  How much did race matter to you in developing friends and friendships?

After You Read

Can you think of strategies to break the habit of racial grouping?  What would you do, step-by-step?

Web Links

Children and the Media


Helping Children Deal with Differences


Raising Our Children Free of Prejudice,1120,20-1530,00.html?wtlAC=featured,Lnhome


Helping Children Develop a Sense of Identity


Racial and Ethnic Trends in Children’s and Adolescent’s Behavior and Development



Jeffry Scott, "Race, Labels, and Identity" The Atlanta Journal and Constitution May 6, 1997.


Jeffry Scoot is a staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer.

Multiple-Choice Questions

1.  Tiger Woods has been on the following television shows to discuss his race:

            a. Oprah Winfrey.

            b. Sesame Street.

            c. Talkback Live.

            d. Meet the Press.

            e. All but B.


2.  About how many Americans have mixed parentage?

            a. 7 million.

            b. 1 billion.

            c.  2 million.

            d. 5 thousand.

            e. 3 million.


3.  The National Council of La Raza is

            a. The Latino activist group.

            b. The Salsa council.

            c. The Caribbean Activist group.

            d. Tiger wood’s fan club.

            e. None of the above.


4.  Who is head of the Roswell based Project Race?

            a. Tiger Woods.

            b. Jeffrey Scott.

            c. Susan R. Graham.

            d.  Candy Mills.

            e. Lee D. Baker.


5.  According to Candy Mills, who has no business segregating the population by race?

            a. Tiger Woods.

            b. The FBI.

            c. The government.

            d. Oprah Winfrey.

            e. The NAACP.


6.  How many choices did the 1990 U.S. Census offer for race?

            a. 4.

            b. 7.

            c. 8.

            d. 5.

            e. 2.


7.  How many married couples are of different races?

            a. 1 million.

            b. 3 million.

            c. 9 thousand.

            d. 6 billion.

            e. 3 billion.


8.  Many blacks may check what racial category to avoid the stigma of being black?

            a.  Multiracial.

            b.  Culturally diverse.

            c. Ethnically Special.

            d. Biracial.

            e. Other.


9.  The Morancies will celebrate both Christmas and

            a. Passover.

            b. Easter.

            c. Kwanzaa.

            d. Hanukkah.

            e.  Navidad.


10.  Where were Craig’s parents born?

            a. The U.S.A.

            b.  Mexico.

            c.  Africa.

            d. Trinidad.

            e.  Jamaica.


Before You Read

When do you believe individuals are most likely to consider themselves multiracial?  Do you know anyone who had a Native American or Hispanic great-grandparent, but who does not mention that they have a racially mixed background?  Why do you think this is?  Offer possible explanations.

After You Read

Is there any way to overcome the problems of labeling and stereotyping?  Suggest three for schools, three for work, and/or three for recreational places.  Do you think that fashion, church, and commercial products are ways that people attempt to be identified by their clothes, beliefs, and activities rather than by their race?  Provide specific examples.

Web Links

Check One—For students concerned with issues of mixed heritage


The Multiracial Activist Project RACE


Multiracial children


Multi-racial adolescences, Single counterparts, few differences


Leonard Pitts Jr., "Is There Room In This Sweet Land Of Liberty For Such A Thing As A 'Cablinasian'?; Face It, Tiger: If They Say You're Black, Then You're Black" The Baltimore Sun  April 29, 1997.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is the author of Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood.

Multiple-Choice Questions

  1. Who called themselves a Cablinasian?
    1. Oprah Winfrey.
    2. Fuzzy Zoeller.
    3. Homer Plessy.
    4. Tiger Woods.
    5. Gregory H. Williams.


  1. Mr. Zoeller made a joke at Tiger Wood’s expense because Tiger is
    1. Asian.
    2. American Indian.
    3. Black.
    4. Caucasian.
    5. Hispanic.


  1. The phrase the author used to describe himself when he was as a kid was
    1. Bi-racial.
    2. Cablinasian.
    3. Multi-racial.
    4. Black Japtalians.
    5. Both a and d.


  1. What happened when the author tried to hail a cab in New York City?
    1. It took him 20 minutes.
    2. He never got a cab.
    3. He had a white man call a cab for him.
    4. It took him 1 hour.
    5. He had a hotel doorman hail a cab for him.


  1. The word Cablinasian includes what ethnicities?
    1. Caucasian, black, American Indian, Asian.
    2. Caucasian, Asian, Black.
    3. Black, Hispanic, American Indian.
    4. Asian, Hispanic, Caucasian.
    5. Black, Caucasian.


  1. Mr. Zoeller said that he was afraid Tiger Woods might have ____, which was served for dinner at the Champion’s Dinner.
    1. Pizza.
    2. Fried Chicken.
    3. Hamburgers.
    4. Potatoes.
    5. Worms.


  1. Homer Plessy was ____ black.
    1. One fourth.
    2. One fifth.
    3. Three eighths.
    4. One eighth.
    5. Two thirds.


  1. Who does the author want on his side?
    1. Franklin Roosevelt.
    2. Tiger Woods.
    3. Sherman Williams.
    4. Homer Plessy.
    5. Oprah Winfrey.


  1. What types of people want Franklin Roosevelt on their side?
    1. Disabled.
    2. Poor.
    3. Political.
    4. African-American.
    5. Hispanic.


  1. Who in Gregory Williams family was half black
    1. his mother.
    2. his step mother.
    3. his father.
    4. his pet parrot.
    5. None of the above.


Before You Read

What are some of the consequences of judging people in terms of race?  List them, and provide historical examples to support your argument.

After You Read

If we destroy race categories, what are the consequences?  Will individuals persist in breaking down unity and fragmenting into groups?  Why?  What are the consequences?  Discuss and use examples.

Web Links

A short biography and links about Homer Plessy

Biography of Gregory H. Williams

An article about Tiger Woods and Cablinasian

Articles about Tiger Woods

Tiger finally takes a public stand—the wrong one



George F. Will, "Melding In America" The Washington Post October 05, 1997.

Columnist, television personality and author George F. Will won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1977.

Multiple-Choice Questions

  1. Which of these people did not have a white parent?
    1. Booker T. Washington.
    2. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    3. Jesse Owens.
    4. Frederick Douglas.
    5. Roy Campanella.


  1. Which of these men has some Caucasian ancestry?
    1. W.E.B Du Bois.
    2. Malcolm X.
    3. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    4. Nelson Mandela.
    5. All of the above.


  1. In 1790, the census classified the Americans in how many categories?
    1. four.
    2. eight.
    3. three.
    4. zero.
    5. two2.


  1. Today, how many categories are there?
    1. five.
    2. seven.
    3. three.
    4. nine.
    5. one.


  1. What additional category is the OMB considering?
    1. Mulatto.
    2. Multiracial.
    3. Cablinasian.
    4. Descendent of Charlemagne.
    5. All but d.


  1. What category is considered unsatisfactory?
    1. Caucasian.
    2. African-American.
    3. Other.
    4. Native Alaskan.
    5. Multiracial.


  1. By what percentage did interracial marriages increase between 1960 and 1990?
    1. 325 percent.
    2. 189 percent.
    3. 67 percent.
    4. 550 percent.
    5. 29 percent.


  1. What percentage of blacks would check a multiracial box?
    1. 8 percent.
    2. 25 percent.
    3. 10 percent.
    4. 15 percent.
    5. None of the above.


  1. The law once regarded the Irish race as what?
    1. Evil.
    2. Nonwhite.
    3. European.
    4. Immigrants for life.
    5. Illegal immigrants.


  1. Creoles are considered to be ____.
    1. French-Spanish migrants to the Americas.
    2. Americans of Mayan descent.
    3. Americans of African descent.
    4. Americans of Italian descent.
    5. Americans of Irish descent.

Before You Read

Who decides what is “white”?  How does one get categorized as “white”?  Is it color or ethnic origin or both?

After You Read

Do you think it is wrong to allow people to label each other or themselves in terms of race?  What would happen if all labels were eliminated, and there were no more race designations?  Could our society operate at all?  Explain why or why not, and provide examples.

Web Links

Roy Campanella’s website

Not an “OTHER”

Project RACE

Racial and Ethnic Classifications used in U.S. census 2000 and beyond

Interracial Voice



Teja Arboleda, "Race Is A Four-Letter Word" in The Shadow Of Race: Growing Up As A Multiethnic, Multicultural, And 'Multiracial' American. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc, 1998.

Teja Arboleda is an Emmy award winning television professional, as well as a writer, actor/comedian and public speaker.  His unique, well-researched diversity awareness and critical thinking programs have positively affected thousands around the United States.  He has been awarded numerous standing ovations from audiences nationwide.  Arboleda performed his popular Ethnic Man program at Brookhaven College in 1998.

Multiple-Choice Questions


1.      The author of the story calls himself

    1. Afghanistani.
    2. Filipino-German.
    3. Jap-Turk.
    4. Iraqi.
    5. Hapahaoli.


  1. The author has been mistaken for being what nationalities?
    1. Turkish.
    2. Iranian.
    3. Cuban.
    4. Asian.
    5. All of the above.


  1. The author has also been mistakenly identified as which famous person(s)?
    1. Julio Iglesias.
    2. Michael Jackson.
    3. Samuel L. Jackson.
    4. Billy Crystal.
    5. Both b and d.


  1. Even with his U.S. passport the author has been escorted to what line at Kennedy International Airport?
    1. Hispanics only.
    2. Whites only.
    3. Immigrants only.
    4. Aliens only.
    5. Blacks only.


  1. Who is Miguel?
    1. The author’s father.
    2. The author’s brother.
    3. The author’s cousin.
    4. The author’s snake.
    5. Both a and b.


  1. Who is Opa?
    1. The author’s grandmother.
    2. The author’s grandfather.
    3. The author’s best friend.
    4. The author’s godfather.
    5. The author’s aunt.


  1. How does the author describe his sister-in-law as looking?
    1. Stereotypically Japanese.
    2. German.
    3. Asian.
    4. Brazilian.
    5. Italian.


  1. What did the author’s mother say, upon finding out her father was not her biological father, when she was asked about her own nationality?
    1. I am German-Italian.
    2. I am German-Russian.
    3. I am German because my biological father was German.
    4. I am German because I was raised German.
    5. Both c and d.


  1. In what year did Time magazine produce their issue entitled “The New Face of America”?
    1. 1993.
    2. 1995.
    3. 1992.
    4. 1990.
    5. 1996.


  1. What words does the author have a problem with from the cover of the Time’s issue?
    1. Races, multicultural, citizenship.
    2. Races, culture, first.
    3. Races, first, nationalities.
    4. Diversity, multicultural, first.
    5. Culture, mainstream society, races.

Before You Read

In what ways are you troubled by racial designations?  Have you ever been mistaken for a person of a different race?  Describe the incident and how you felt.  If you could relive the experience, what would you have done differently?

After You Read

Have you ever had the desire to “engineer” your race?  Have you ever behaved or dressed in a way that would deliberately confuse or mislead people?  If you were required to reinvent your race, what would you do and how?  How do you think it would affect how you make meaning of situations and life?

Web Links

Ethnic Man

Gene Therapy

Choosing Many: Cultural Hybridity and Multiracial Experiences in Canada

A list of sites and book about multiethnic Americans

Association of Multiethnic Americans


Denene Millner,  “In Creating a Word To Describe His Racial Make-up, Golfer Tiger Woods Has Also Stirred up a Round of Controversy Among Blacks”.

Millner has written for Honey, VIBE, Essence, TV Guide, Interview, Heart and Soul, BET Weekend, American Visions, and Black Elegance. She was the recipient of the 1997 New York Association of Black Journalists’ Arts and Entertainment Writing Award. Millner got her start in journalism with The Associated Press, with whom she began working shortly after graduating from Hofstra University with a BA in Print Journalism and Graphic Arts in 1990. With the AP, Millner worked as a general assignment reporter in both the Newark, N.J., and Albany, N.Y., bureaus before becoming a political reporter in the AP’s New York capital bureau.

Multiple-Choice Questions


1.  According to Shani Saxon, Tiger Woods feels like his home is in

a.  China.

            b.  Africa.

            c. A golf course.

            d. Thailand.

            e. California.


2.   Where is Monique Sankey from?

            a.  Los Angeles.

            b.  Rome.

            c. Manhattan.

            d. Chicago.    

            e. Taiwan.


3.  How many types of racial classification were there in 1970?

            a. five.

            b. four.

            c. two.

            d. six.

            e. three.


4.  What does it mean to “pass”?

            a. Make a grade of C or better in class.

            b. To be tall enough to ride a roller coaster.

            c. To have light enough skin to be white.

            d. To be a mulatto.

            e. To be multiracial.


5.  Who are some famous celebrities that have passed?

            a. Bill Cosby.

            b. Helen Hunt.

            c. Mariah Carey.

            d. Paula Abdul.

            e.Both c and d.


6.  Where does Manning Marable work?

            a. Oklahoma University.

            b. Harvard University.

            c. Colombia University.

            d. Berkley.

            e. Yale.


7. What is a quadroon?

            a. A person with one white grandparent.

            b. A female with two white male great grandparents.

            c. A person with more than one white grandparent.

            d. A type of cracker.

            e. None of the above.


8.  Who is Jesse Washington?

            a. A twenty-eight-year-old male.

            b. A product of a biracial marriage.

            c. Managing editor of Vibe magazine.

            d. Tiger Woods best friend

            e. All but d.


9.  In what commercial did Woods say that he would have been barred from some golf courses for his skin?

            a. Mazda.

            b. Adidas.

            c.  Ping.

            d. McDonald’s.

            e. None of the above.


10.  Christopher White is bi-racial, which racial category did he identify with?

            a. White.

            b. Black.

            c. Hispanic.

            d. Asian.

            e. None of the above.

Before You Read

When you saw Tiger Woods for the first time, what race did you think he was? Why? What made you think of that race?  Was it the color of his skin, the language he spoke, or his favorite sport?

After You Read


How did this article change the ways that you look at Tiger Woods and people in his situation.  How do you explain his attitudes, emotions, or behaviors?  How do you justify them?


Web Links


Multiracial Tiger Woods

Are Cablinasians genetically superior?

An end to counting by race?

Searching for Pieces to the Puzzle

Opinions on Race


Ellis Cose,  “Census and the Complex Issue of Race”

Ellis Cose is a contributing editor (since 1993) for Newsweek magazine. Cose is a former chairman of the editorial board of the New York Daily News and began his journalism career as a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. At the age of 19 he was the youngest editorial page columnist ever employed by a major Chicago daily. He is the author of several books including the best selling, The Rage of a Privileged Class, A Man's World, A Nation of Strangers, and Color-Blind. A Chicago native, Cose is a graduate of the University of Illinois (Chicago) and holds a master's degree in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from George Washington University.

Multiple-Choice Questions


  1. “Aliens being free white persons” was restricted to
    1. Slavery.
    2. Naturalization.
    3. Hispanics.
    4. Asians.
    5. None of the above.


  1. Which questions come from the “multiracial movement”?
    1. What’s the point in forcing people into red, yellow, black, white boxes?
    2. Why must a person with any degree of black heritage be forced to ignore all their other heritages?
    3. Isn’t it time to dismantle or rethink the racial categorization system?
    4. All of the above.
    5. None of the above.


  1. In what state court was a woman made to accept a legal designation of black?
    1. Oklahoma.
    2. Mississippi.
    3. Louisiana.
    4. Arkansas.
    5. Georgia.


  1. Some spokespeople have requested that Hawaiians be grouped with
    1. Asians.
    2. Whites.
    3. Hispanics.
    4. Blacks.
    5. Native Americans.


  1. Susan Graham was unhappy with census bureaucrats because they said biracial children should be assigned the ______ race.
    1. Mother’s.
    2. Father’s.
    3. Grandmother’s.
    4. Paternal Grandfather’s.
    5. Stepfather.


  1. How many people put themselves in the other category in the 1990 census?
    1. 2 million.
    2. 8 billion.
    3. 10 million.
    4. 10 billion.
    5. 8 million.


  1. In the 1991 poll, what percentage of whites was opposed to a relative marrying a black person?
    1. 45 percent.
    2. 46 percent.
    3. 64 percent.
    4. 66 percent.
    5. 78 percent.


  1. In the 1990 census, most Latinos described themselves as ______.
    1. Black.
    2. White.
    3. Asian.
    4. Other.
    5. American Indian.


  1. What magazine does Lawrence Wright write for?
    1. Time.
    2. New Yorker.
    3. Newsweek.
    4. People.
    5. Both a and b.


  1. In what grade did Adrian Piper’s teacher wonder if Adrian knew she was black?
    1. eighth grade.
    2. sixth grade.
    3. third grade.
    4. fifth grade.
    5. tenth grade.


Before You Read

Why are census responses important?  What are the numbers used for?  Please list five ways race numbers on census reports are used and provide an illustrative example.

After You Read


Does the article make you feel skeptical, confident, or unsure of census reporting?  Why? What are the implications?  How does this affect how a community might define itself?


Multiracial and Intermarried celebrities


Interracial married couples


Love in Black and White


Black, White, Cuban, and Asian

New Census Raises Questions on Future of Race in America


Visual Analysis

Based on the links provided, answer the following essay questions.

Rosa Parks sitting on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, 1956.

Essay Questions

1.  What does the photograph tell you about race relations?  Given the fact that this was taken in 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama, what are the various implications?

2.  Consider the idea that the meanings of race and race relations have to do with the symbolism of activities and attitudes surrounding race.  In the segregated South, name ways that apartheid behavior created its own symbolism and generated meanings and false beliefs about certain races.

Mississippi Masala

Mississippi Masala, 1992.

Mississippi Masala barely scratches the surface of racial conflict.

Essay Questions:

1.  Check out the movie, Mississippi Masala and watch it.  How are the people of Indian descent depicted?  How do the blacks of the American South unconsciously awaken the memories of how blacks in Uganda seized the property of people of Indian descent and forced them to leave the country?

2.  Look closely at the box cover.  How do you know that the individuals are from different cultures?

Keanu Reeves, born in Lebanon. Chinese-Hawaiian father, Anglo mother. biography

Essay Questions

1.  List the movies that Keanu Reeves has played in, and the roles he played.  How does he help make his characters race neutral?  Describe specific roles.

2.  Who are other multiracial actors and actresses?  What races do they play in their roles?  Is it always the same race?










Maxine Hong Kingston

Asian-American Literary “Authenticity”: Frank Chin’s 1991 Criticism of Maxine Hong Kingston in 1975.

Essay Questions

1. Maxine Hong Kingston has been accused by Chinese-American critics such as Frank Chin of perpetuating damaging stereotypes about Chinese American women.  Is there any way for the person who is not an expert to know?  What are telltale signs of race stereotyping?

2.  In what ways does the woman in the photograph move across cultures, so that she is a blend, and not simply of one or another?


“Cooking With Fresh Verbs.”

National Geographic Flashback to Language Lessons to Facilitate Assimilation

Essay Questions

1.  What are some of the messages contained in the photograph?  Discuss the way the photograph depicts  women’s roles, immigrant status and work considered fitting an immigrant, the importance of English, and the type of English considered appropriate for immigrant women.

2.  Is this woman wearing anything that would identify her as a member of a particular race or ethnic group?  What does this say about what is considered necessary for assimilation in America?

Ellen and baby

Other Colors: Being Multiracial in America.

African-American father, white mother, now happily married to Korean man, and they have a young daughter

Essay Questions

1.  If you look at the photograph of the woman, what do you think? Do you think of her race, or do you look for cues that would indicate social and/or economic class? Why?

2.  What do you think might be some of the difficulties, challenges, and special opportunities that the multiracial child will face in the future?  List them, and describe a possible scenario.

Read and Respond

Donna Lamb.  Institutional Racism: This Nation Was Built On It!
Part Two.”  The Multiracial Activist.  April /May 2002.

Donna Lamb.  A Tribute to the Ancestors of the Middle Passage”  June/July 2000.

Karl Hess, “Gypsies and the Difficulties of Diversity” Diversity Central

Sasha Polakow-Suransky.  “Le Pen’s Sword:  The French Election was a lot like our own.” The American Prospect Online. April 24, 2002.

Essay Question

How do you account for resurgences in racism, ethnic difference, and groupism?  Posit five explanations, with supporting examples.


Other Colors: Being Multiracial in America. KQED, Inc., 2601 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Awareness Activities. Multicultural Pavilion.

Dream in Color:  Online Literary Journal.


Charles C. Mann.  “1491” The Atlantic Monthly. 
Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.


Barbara Ferry and Debbie Nathan.  “Mistaken Identity?  The Case of New Mexico’s ‘Hidden Jews’” The Atlantic Monthly.

Imagine descendants of Jews pursued by the Spanish Inquisition, still tending the dying embers of their faith among peasant Latinos in the American Southwest. The story has obvious resonance, and it has garnered considerable publicity. The truth of the matter may turn out to be vastly different, and nearly as improbable.

Joel Rogers and Ruy Teixeira  “America’s Forgotten Majority” The Atlantic Monthly

Ian Frazier.  “On the Rez” The Atlantic Monthly.

Leonard J. Leff. “Gone With the Wind and Hollywood’s Racial Politics”  The Atlantic Monthly.