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The Making of Race in America Reading Journal

The Making of Race in America Reading Journal


efore we start talking about Asian American history, we need to understand the society in which Asian immigrants entered the United States. Therefore you will watch a film that analyzes the construction of race as it pertains to African Americans and Native Americans. Read the film guideline, “Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race” and then watch Episode 2, “The Story We Tell,” from Race: The Power of An Illusion (see link in the Week 2 folder. Make sure you watch Episode TWO, THE STORY WE TELL. There are 3 episodes, so click Episode 2!)


You will respond to THREE of the 5 questions below.

You must answer questions #2 and #3.

You should CHOOSE to answer EITHER question #1 OR question #4.

Read and think about question #5 (no writing assignment for question #5).

For your written responses, incorporate concrete ideas, examples, or evidence from the documentary to substantiate your response. Please number your responses accordingly.


1) Think about points 1, 6, 7, and 8 on the film guideline. Then recall the lessons from the documentary. What are two concrete ways that race has been used to rationalize inequality? How has race been used to shift attention (and responsibility) away from oppressors and toward the targets of oppression? Write 3-5 sentences total.


2) Choose (A) or (B), and write 4-5 sentences total. (A) What is the connection of American slavery to prejudices against African-descended peoples? Why does race persist after abolition? (B) Why was it not slavery but freedom and the notion that “all men are created equal” that created a moral contradiction in colonial America? How did race help resolve that contradiction? Whether you choose (A) or (B), write 4-5 sentences total.


3) Contrast Thomas Jefferson’s policy to assimilate American Indians in the 1780s with Andrew Jackson’s policy of removing Cherokees to west of the Mississippi in the 1830s. What is common to both policies? What differentiates them? Answer with 2-3 bullet points for commonalities, and 2-3 bullet points for differences.


4) Think about points 2, 3, 4, and 5 on the film guideline. Then recall the lessons from the documentary. What did scientists such as Louis Agassiz, Samuel Morton, or Josiah Nott, argue in their publications? How did they substantiate their claims, and what was problematic about their methods? What was their impact on U.S. legal and social policy? Respond to at least two of the questions above. Write 3-5 sentences total.


5) What do you think of either point 9 or point 10 on the film guideline? What is one example from your own experience (or from someone you know) that relates to your chosen point? There are no right or wrong answers. Be prepared to discuss in class! (No writing assignment for question #5.)


Erika Lee, Introduction to The Making of Asian America (pages 1-11; if you’re using the electronic copy, its the entire Introduction)

You must respond to questions #1 and #2.

Read and think about question #3 (no writing assignment for question #3)

1) How does the author complicate common views of immigration history; in other words, what factors, events, or experiences does she consider that disrupts the simple “push and pull” idea? Write 3-5 bullet points, referring to concrete examples or evidence from the reading.


2) Lee writes, “There are two main ways in which this history of race has played out for Asian Americans.” According to the author, what are these two main ways? Briefly explain. Write 3-4 sentences.


3) Go back to page 3, and reread carefully the two full paragraphs (beginning at the page break, the paragraph starting with “Broadly speaking, Asian Americans are…“). The author identifies 6 ways in which Asian Americans are diverse, and also discusses how they are connected or are similar. How is the acknowledgement of Asian Americans’ diversity as well as their connections relevant to your response to question #2? No writing assignment for this question—just think! Be prepared to discuss in class. this is the link of the video

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