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Obama and his grandfather social construction of race

2 Aug

Below are two photos — one of Barack Obama as an adult and one of a young Obama and his Grandfather, Stanley Dunham (found here and here).  I tried a little experiment in class. I put up the photo of adult Obama and I had my students make a list of what characteristics made him identifiably Black, in their view. Every one of them put on their list his nose, lips, and hair, and several made comments about his ears or just that “the combination of all his facial features” was “clearly” Black.

People in Appalachia, OH choose which race with which they identify. It’s a 51 minute audio that challenges hegemonic ideas of race. People who “look white” are discriminated against because they are labeled Black.
In this episode Al Letson and guest producer Lu Olkowski visit a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where, for a century, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American despite the fact that they look white. Racial lines have been blurred to invisibility, and people inside the same family can vehemently disagree about whether they are black or white. It can be tense and confusing. As a result, everyone’s choosing: Am I black? Am I mixed race? Or, am I white? Adding to the confusion, there’s a movement afoot to recognize their Native-American heritage.


Breaking Norms

17 Sep

Nathan Palmer, a lecturer at Georgia Southern University and founder of the blog Sociology Source, recruited his entire class of 262 students to go into the world and do nothing (an idea he borrowed from Karen Bettez Halnon). It was sort of like a flash mob in which absolutely nothing happens.
Video of about 5 minutes, interesting to demonstrate norms, and perhaps try with your students. Another one is to have them all look up in the sky at nothing.

Great for Applying Theory

19 Aug

This is a small group activity. Have students in groups of 2-4 choose a theory, or assign a theory, and pass out this handout of questions. It is a good way for them to think about how each theorist would critically understand Wal-Mart’s place in society. Then come together as a class and discuss the questions.

Analyzing Everyday Life Wal Mart

deathbed regrets: analyze for sociology

29 Jul

These are interesting and I think it will be fun to ask students to read through this and pick out 3 sociological factors at play. For example, the first one: ” I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” may have a lot to do with peer, family, or media socialization and notions of success.
Also, #3, “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings” may come more from men since they are socialized to suppress non-aggressive emotion.
You could probably come up with some better ones…
This comes from a website, “The Next Web:
Technology news, business and culture” and looks like it is geared toward men.

EJ in pictures

21 Jul

Julie Sze’s 25 Stories Project comes with links to teaching tools for teachers on Environmental justice.

25 STORIES FROM THE CENTRAL VALLEY uses photos, stories and theater to paint a vivid picture of the environmental toxins that “the other California” lives with every day. Women leaders give us a window into the little-known lives of people who are making this region safer for everyone. Their stories are shocking, sad, and inspiring. Above all, they will broaden your understanding of the Central Valley, community change, and the necessity for civic engagement.

SI with objects

28 Jun

SI with objects is an article from Teaching Sociology on an activity you can do with shoes, jeans, a computer, and any other everyday object.

Covert and Overt Racism in a Reddit Post

9 Jun

I find this entire page very interesting. I think it would be a fruitful exercise for students to read the first part (before the edits) when discussing covert/overt racism in everyday happenings. Later on the page the question, “What is the subtle form of racism that Reddit promotes?” offers some more on covert/overt racism. Other issues around white privilege arise, and some points about Tyler Perry could be useful for class as well…In fact, a generally “fun” activity could be for students to pick apart this thread/page by noting where sociology applies to this casual, and very open, conversation.