When it comes to race and ethnicity, everybody has a story to tell. Everyone talks about race. They might talk about it privately, but they talk about it. Race is no doubt a common ingredient in conversations. I'm going to try a new assignment in my Race & Ethnicity course this semester, and most likely will tie the assignment to presentations at the end of the semester.
The assignment: Write a diary to keep track of the things you say and hear about race. Are there themes in your conversations about race? What do you overhear people saying about race? In addition to conversations about race that you're privy to, use the diary to keep track of your own thoughts and reflections about race and ethnicity. For example, use the diary to record your observations about race in public places. Write at least one entry per week throughout the semester. Plan to turn your diary in at the midpoint of the semester so that the entries can be checked for appropriate progress. Plan to turn your final diary into a five page paper in which you reflect upon and discuss your thoughts, observations, and conversations about race and ethnicity during the semester.
Note: I think I'll have students do brief presentations (approximately 10 minutes) in which they summarize their diaries, which will hopefully produce some follow-up Q & A from their peers.
Any feedback on this idea? Suggestions for making it an effective assignment? I welcome comments.
Click here for a collection of resources for teaching and learning about race and ethnicity.