Race in the U.S. | A free public course at The New School

The 2016 U.S. Presidential election revealed the stubborn persistence of bigotry in the United States, and demonstrated that race continues to play a significant, if changing, role in how we define our communities, develop our public policy, and shape our democratic institutions. This course brings together scholars, experts, thought leaders and activists to examine such issues as racial stratification, implicit bias, and the complex, intersectional relationships between race, gender, and class. What is race and how do we understand it today? How are demographic shifts driving wedges between communities and/or fostering pluralism? How democratic is our pluralist society? What is the role of racial divides in fomenting political partisanship? What impact does racialized discourse have on such issues as the social safety net, immigration, criminal justice, technology, voting, and urban policy? “Race in the USA” is The New School’s second University course on post-election America, and is sponsored by the Provost’s Office and the 2017 Henry Cohen Lecture Series of The Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy.

Class is in session each Monday at 6 PM EST. If you can’t make it to our NYC campus, watch + engage live or on your own time with Livestream or Facebook. Follow the conversation on social media using #RaceInTheUS.

To reserve a seat for individual sessions, kindly email: postelection@newschool.edu.

New School alumni may reserve seats at individual sessions by emailing alumni@newschool.edu.


The objective of the course is to deepen the knowledge and understanding of participants on how “race” is constructed in US society, it’s implications for policies, outcomes and discourse and to develop greater critical analysis of race in the US.

At least one reading or film clip will be assigned for each class. Participants will either write a two page report or draft and submit for publication an opinion editorial.

WEEK 1 | 8/28 | Course Overview

Syllabus, topics and lectures and perhaps a formatted discussion on salience of race today. Why it matters and how to locate Blackness in the context of multi-racial and intersectional issues of racial extension, stratification and policy.

Read for Week 3:
Garner & Selod, The Racialization of Islam: Empirical Studies of Islamaphocia, Critical Sociology, Volume: 41 issue: 1, page(s): 9–19 (2015)

WEEK 3 | 9/11 | The Social Construction of Race and Islamophobia

Linda Sarsour, Organizer of the Women’s March, Former Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York

WEEK 4 | 9/18 | Why the ‘pull yourself up by your bootstrap’ rhetoric and accompanying neoliberal policies are making us sick

Professor Arjumand Siddiqi, Canada Research Chair in Population Health Equity and Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

WEEK 5 | 9/25 | Who Are You?: The Elusive Categories of Race

Michael Omi, Associate Professor, Department of Ethics Studies, University of California Berkley

WEEK 6 | 10/2 | The Movement for Black Lives: Uprising, Reclamation, Innovation

Deva Woodly, Assistant Professor of Politics at The New School’s Albert and Vera List Academic Center

Shanelle Matthews, Director of Communications for the Black Lives Matter Global Network and current Activist-in-Residence at The New School

10/4 at 5:30 p.m. EST | Discover what it’s like to be a student at The New School

Be part of an intimate half-hour conversation in which a small group of students discuss race — and why it matters today — with Professor Maya Wiley, The New School’s senior vice president for social justice. You can listen in or take part by asking questions and commenting on Facebook or Livestream. Share your thoughts using #raceintheus.

WEEK 7 | NO CLASS MONDAY, 10/9; INSTEAD, WEDNESDAY, 10/11, 6–7:30 PM | “Fraught Crossroads”

The terrible intersection where race, class, sex and violence keep colliding across American History (and who gets to address it) with special reference to the controversial cases of Ed Kienholz and Dana Schutz. Professor Weschler recommends reading the James Baldwin essay “Words from a Native Son” and “Ramiro Gomez’s Domestic Disturbances” from the New York Times Magazine (linked below) to prepare for the lecture:

Lawrence Weschler, former staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. Two-time winner of the George Polk Awards — for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992 — and recipient of the Lannan Literary Award (1998)

WEEK 8 | 10/16 | 400 Years of Inequality Curriculum Disruption

Mindy Fullilove, Professor of Urban Policy and Health at The New School

To prepare for the lecture, Professor Fullilove recommends the following readings:

1. Root Shock 
2. Serial Forced Displacement in the American City.

Both papers can be found at www.rootshock.org in the resources tab.

WEEK 9 | 10/23 | Race and Cognition

Rachel Godsil, Professor at Rutgers University School of Law and Director of Research, Perception Institute

To prepare for the lecture, the recommended readings are:

  1. Race and Poverty- Implicit Bias: A Forum
    2. Breaking the Cycle: Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat

WEEK 10 | 10/30 | Race and Lower Ed in the New Economy

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and faculty associate with Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Author of Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (2017, The New Press),The New York Times called Lower Ed the “best book yet on the complex lives and choices of for-profit college students”.

To prepare for the lecture, read “New Federal Data Show a Student Loan Crisis for African American Borrowers”.

WEEK 11 | 11/6 | Race and Reproduction: From slavery and genocide to genetically designed babies

Sujatha Jesudason, Professor, The Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy

Shanelle Matthews, Director of Communications for the Black Lives Matter Global Network | Activist-in-Residence at the New School

To prepare for the lecture, read from the book Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts:

Preface, XI — XXI
Introduction, pages 3–21
Chapter 7, pages 294–312

Chapter 2, pages 56–103 — The Dark Side of Birth Control
Chapter 6, pages 246–293 — Race and the New Reproduction

WEEK 12 | 11/13 | Race and the Environment

Michelle DePass, Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School

Carl Anthony, Architect, Author and Urban / Suburban / Regional Design Strategist and Co-Founder of the Breakthrough Communities Project

Mia White, Faculty at The New School

WEEK 13 | 11/20 | Indigenous Politics, History, and Questions of Race on Turtle Island

Jaskiran Dhillon, Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Anthropology at The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy and Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts

Melanie Yazzie, Assistant Professor, Gender & Sexuality Studies, University of California

Recommended Readings:
1. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: Introduction.
2. From Charlottesville to Santa Fe: Smash Racist Memorials, Smash White Supremacy

WEEK 14 | 11/27 | Race and Immigration

Steve Choi, Esq., The Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella advocacy and policy coalition of nearly 200 member groups representing New York State’s immigrant communities.

Recommended Reading: “Inclusive Immigrant Justice: Racial Animus and the Origins of Crime-Based Deportation,” by Alina Das

WEEK 15 | 12/4 | Race and Criminalization

Samuel Sinyangwe, member of the Movement for Black Lives and a co-founder of Mapping Police Violence, a database of police killings in the United States, and Campaign Zero, a policy platform to end police violence.

Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights

WEEK 16 | 12/11 | Race and Electoral Power

Ari Berman, Mother Jones reporter
Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at
Fordham University

Suggested readings:
Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump
Hiding in Plain Sight: White Women Vote Republican

We ask that we all agree to rules of engagement and conduct.

  1. Be a respectful collaborator and a participant: This means we agree to show up and be on time. We only meet for one hour and fifty minutes each week, and class will begin and end promptly.
  2. Own the work of the class as a joint exploration and assume everyone has something to teach all of us; Step up and step back — listen actively, as well as talk, when appropriate.Work toward understanding and assume the best of each other; Respect the classroom by silencing mobile devices.
  3. Many viewpoints and experiences are welcome. As a learning community, our job is not to agree, but to work to understand an analyze disagreement.
  4. Differences along race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexuality, class, religion are important to our learning community and a conscious respect for and exploration of difference is a core value. It is also a policy University-wide policy to refrain from discrimination. We are collectively responsible for ensuring the policies and values of the University are carried out in the classroom.
  5. Give credit where credit is due: Academic integrity is a core value we all must hold. Accurately cite the work of others. This is a University-wide policy and a core value in our classroom. If you are unclear about when and how to cite a source correctly, resources include The Modern Researcher. Also, find an online resource here.

Get to know the three New School faculty members who launched and curated the series, as well as faculty from around the University who will be featured in guest lectures throughout the course.

Michelle J. DePass

Michelle J. DePass is the Dean of the Milano School, Tishman Professor of Environmental Policy and Management, and Director of the Tishman Environment and Design Centerat The New School. Prior to joining Milano, DePass served as Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this presidentially appointed, senate-confirmed position, DePass had been responsible for all dimensions of environmental policy between the EPA and other nations, federally recognized tribal nations, and multilateral institutions and donors. A lawyer by training, DePass was also the Kunstler fellow for civil rights at the Center for Constitutional Rights here in New York City. She is a sought-after civil society leader and has served on dozens of boards and advisory committees to government, NGO’s and international organizations. DePass holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, a Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, where she was a National Urban Fellow. Follow @MichelleDePass

Darrick Hamilton

Darrick Hamilton is Director of the Doctoral Program in Public and Urban Policy, and jointly appointed as Associate Professor of Economics and Urban Policy at The Milano School and the Department of Economics at The New School for Social Research. Professor Hamilton is a stratification economist, whose work focuses on the causes, consequences and remedies of racial and ethnic inequality in economic and health outcomes, which includes an examination of the intersection of identity, racism, colorism, and socioeconomic outcomes. He has authored numerous scholarly articles on socioeconomic stratification in education, marriage, wealth, homeownership, health (including mental health), and labor market outcomes. Follow @DarrickHamilton

Maya Wiley

Maya Wiley is the Senior Vice President for Social Justice at The New School, as well as Henry Cohen Professor of Urban Policy and Management at the Milano School. Wiley is a nationally renowned expert on racial justice and equity. She has litigated, lobbied the U.S. Congress, and developed programs to transform structural racism in the U.S. and in South Africa. as the Chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) — the independent oversight agency for the City’s Police Department. Prior to her roles with The New School and the CCRB, Ms. Wiley served as Counsel to the Mayor of the City of New York from 2014–2016. As Mayor Bill de Blasio’s chief legal advisor and a member of his Senior Cabinet, Wiley was placed at the helm of the Mayor’s commitment to expanding affordable broadband access across New York City, advancing civil and human rights and gender equity, and increasing the effectiveness of the City’s support for Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises. During her tenure, she also served as the Mayor’s liaison to the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. Follow @mayawiley

Sujatha Jesudason

Sujatha Jesudason recently joined The New School as Professor of Professional Practice in Management at the Milano School. Jesudason joins The New School after five years of serving as Founder and Executive Director of CoreAlign, a reproductive justice organization that teaches innovation for social change to frontline activists. From examining fault lines to highlighting the need for long-term movement strategies, Jesudason has worked for the last 25 years to forge unlikely collaborations and look past forced simplifications at the intersection of issues too often considered separately: economic inequality, domestic violence, racial discrimination, and gender roles. Her previous work includes community organizing in Milwaukee, violence prevention in the South Asian American community, and policy advocacy on human genetics in her past role as founder and executive director of Generations Ahead. She is a leading voice on new practices for movement building, the ethics of human genetics, women’s rights, and racial justice. She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Follow @SujathaMusings

Mindy Fullilove

Mindy Fullilove is Professor of Urban Policy and Health at the Milano School. She is a board-certified psychiatrist who explores the ties between environment and mental health. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bryan Mawr College and her MS and MD degrees from Columbia University. Dedicated to the psychology of place, Mindy’s research started in 1986 when she linked the AIDS epidemic with place of residence and she continues to focus on the health problems caused by inequality. For the past 30 years, Mindy has been investigating how broken connections between different sections of cities harm public health and explores ways to reconnect them. She has published numerous articles and six books including Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted-Out Cities, Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It, and House of Joshua: Meditations on Family and Place. She has received many awards, including inclusion in many “Best Doctors” and two honorary doctorates (Chatham College, 1999, and Bank Street College of Education, 2002). Follow @mindphul

Mia White

Mia Charlene White is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at The New School, with a co-teaching appointment at the Milano School. She is a faculty-affiliate of the Tishman Environment and Design Center, as well as with the Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies. She has a bachelors degree in anthropology and political science from the State University of New York at Stonybrook, a Master of International Affairs in environmental policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a Ph.D in urban studies and planning (Housing and Environment) from MIT. Given the diversity of her training, White’s work is interdisciplinary and she situates herself among radical geographers (race geography) and applied anthropologists, planning/urban theorists (fugitive planning), radical sociologists/historians and those others seeking to link social science concepts of space and race, to the humanities via art and protest. Follow @MiaTuckerWhite

Deva Woodly

Deva Woodly is Assistant Professor of Politics at Eugene Lang College and the New School for Social Research. Woodly states, “I am interested in how democratic politics actually happens in the contemporary context. I approach this broad interest in a non-traditional way. Most American political science focuses inquiry on institutions, choice, and decision-making. By contrast, I focus my attention on the ways that public meanings define the problems that the polity understands itself to share as well as the range of choices that citizens perceive to be before them. Questions that focus on the way that public meanings shape our politics require a careful engagement with public discourse, like that found in newspapers, shared through social networks online, or spoken in the meeting houses of civic and social movement organizations. These discourses provide an empirical record of what members of the polity acknowledge as politically valuable as well as clues to the logics that people commonly use to associate their beliefs and values with the problems that they recognize in the world as they find it, imbricated as it is with all the structural, institutional, group-based and affective elements of life and politics.” Woodly holds a PhD from the University of Chicago.

Shanelle Matthews

Shanelle Matthews is Activist-in-Residence at The New School, a position hosted by The New School for Social Research. She states that while at The New School, “I’ll work on a suite of experiments: one part research, one part public programming, and one part writing — each a small piece toward my goal of significantly reducing anti-Black racism and bias through the media in the next generation. At the end of my residency, I’d like to more fully understand how to use what I’ve learned and what I’ve co-taught to: galvanize more people into social movement work; build strong relationships between academic professionals and movement leaders; use data and research to advance social movement communications; build more trust between the academy and organizers playing an integral role in building a world in which every person has equitable treatment under the law and a fair chance to live to their most desired potential; and work on projects that advance the narrative that Black organizers deserve to be experts in their own experience.” Follow @TheShanelleM