Course Syllabus


Introduction to Ethnic Studies – Socio 14

Pasadena City College

Fall 2010



Jose R. Lopez


Class meeting times:               Tuesdays 6:00 p.m. – 9:10 p.m.

Section: 2062                         

Room: C335


Phone: 619-227-3943



“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line” W.E.B. DuBois


Course Description and Objective:


This course explores one of the most mystifying social phenomena; a phenomenon that has persisted and evolved throughout the history of this country. It is difficult to understand American life or global issues without the examinations of race and ethnic relations. Moreover, race and ethnic relations cannot be understood in a vacuum without understanding larger issues of culture, class and gender. The promise of a better future depends on how societies will grapple with this issue(s). Within the general framework of developing students’ analytical/critical thinking and writing skills, the goal of this course is to develop a deeper sociological comprehension of ethnic and race relations. The course reviews the major theoretical approaches that examine race relations as well as historical and contemporary issues. It also encompasses an analysis of culture, class, gender and global issues to further understand relations among different ethnic and racial groups. The subject of race and ethnic relations is often regarded as a “controversial” topic because it raises many questions that people are not always comfortable talking about. Why is that? Indeed, it touches the lives of many people who may have strong opinions and sentiments about it. Our own educational, social, and political institutions often spend little time if not completely ignore the topic. The challenge to the study of such a subject is to be able to stay away from stereotypical thinking and to develop a critical understanding of those relations based on theoretical and academic research. That does not necessarily mean that everybody will reach the same conclusion. In all of that, the course hopes to foster visions of a fair society through learning and open-minded discussions.


This course has the following objectives:

1. To equip students with theoretical background for the analysis of race and ethic relations in particular and social stratification/ inequality in general.

2. To introduce the students to the historical trajectories that led to the formation of race and ethnic relations as we experience them in the present.

3. To address the intersection of race, ethnic, social class, gender and global issues.

4. To challenge students to develop multicultural perspectives in their daily lives.



Course Attendance and Participation


Attendance is strongly recommended. Besides the readings, information from lectures and the videos may help you for your Exams. I also encourage you to ask questions and comment on the readings. Your participation in class strengthens the dynamics of the course. Each student is expected to participate in the class discussions on a regular basis. This can best be done by completing the reading assignments before lectures. By doing so, you are taking a pro-active part in your education. It also allows you to facilitate the comprehension of the material. You, as a student, are better equipped to ask relevant questions and engage successfully with your classmates and myself. I will also take attendance on a regular basis. Attendance is also a component of your final grade.


Lectures will include materials from the assigned readings in addition to outside sources.

Lectures are designed to complement the subject matter and facilitate class discussions.. While those PowerPoint presentations are for students to use, they do not replace class attendance nor are they developed enough to make sense of all the intricacies of the subject matter; therefore not sufficient to comprehend sociological jargon and pass the class.

You are strongly encouraged to take notes along your PowerPoint presentations.

Discussions: Students are expected to contribute to profitable discussions. We all have something valuable to share with others. While I expect discussions, I do NOT expect long drawn out discussions as well as irrelevance.

Please be aware of the following statement:


Please be aware of the following statement:

Students may be dropped from a semester- length class for continuous or cumulative absences which total the number of hours the class is scheduled to meet in a two-week period.

Under extenuating circumstances, a student may be reinstated by the instructor. I will take attendance at every class meeting for administrative purposes. However, I will treat you like adults and expect you to be in class. You will not be rewarded for being in class. It is your responsibility to come and participate.

Points will be deducted every time you miss a class meeting!

Cheating and plagiarism will NOT be tolerated in this class. If you are caught cheating or plagiarizing, you will receive a F in the class.


In higher education, it is critical to be able to decipher, explain and express your ideas and thoughts in a constructive and organized manner. This class will require students to thoroughly work on their writing skills in order to obtain higher grades.

Criteria will be applied to determine the level of achievement of each student for each writing assignment. Do NOT assume that because you have spent many hours on an assignment that it automatically deserves an “A”. Students will be graded on their level of understanding, analysis and application of theories, concepts studied in class but also from readings and discussion. While understanding the contents of the course is extremely important, it is as important for students to express themselves and write in an organized manner. Students are also expected to write in a grammatically error-free manner.


Grading (250 Points)


Course attendance: 30 points (12%)

Code of the Street Written Assignment: 40 points (16%)

Identity Paper: 40 points (16%)

Group Project: 40 points (16%)

Exam I: 50 points (20%)

Exam II: 50 points (20%)


Required Textbooks


  1. Desmond, Matthew & Mustafa Emirbayer. 2009. Racial Domination, Racial Progress. 1st Ed. McGraw Hill.


  1.  Elijah Anderson 1999. Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.


Examinations and Other Important Dates


There will be two exams in the class. Students must take the exams on the scheduled date.

October 19      Exam I

Dec 14             Exam II


November 5    Code of the Street Written Assignment Due

November 26  Identity Paper Written Assignment Due


September 11: Last day to drop the class without receiving a “W”.

November 12: Last day drop and receive and “W”.



Written Assignments             class i.d.: 3353502 password: sayno2racism


You will use to turn in both of your written assignments (Code of the Street and Identity paper)



Tentative schedule (subject to change):





Week 1: August 31


Introduction to the course


Discussion: The origins of Ethnic Studies” and the “social construction” of race




Week 2: September 7



Reading Assignment: “Preface” pg. V-X and Chapter 1 “Race in the Twenty-first Century” pg. 1-50 and Chapter 2 “The Invention of Race” pg. 51-101.




Week 3: September 14


Reading Assignment: Chapter 3 “Politics” pg. 103-148.

Video: Obedience




Week 4: September 21


Reading Assignment: Chapter 4 “Economics” pg. 150-199.



Week 5: September 28



Reading Assignment: Chapter 5 “Housing” pg. 202-246.



Week 6: October 5


Reading Assignment: Chapter 6 “Crime and Punishment” pg. 249-297.




Week 7: October 12



Reading Assignment: Chapter 7 ‘Education” pg. 299-347.


Video: Zoned for Slavery



Week 8: October 19




Exam I (Chapters 1-7)


Week 9: October 26



Reading Assignment: Chapter 8 “Aesthetics” pg. 349-396.


Week 10: November 2

Written Assignment Due


Reading Assignment: Chapter 9 “Associations” pg. 399-446.

Video: Hate Rock

Code of the Street Due November 5



Week 11: November 9



Reading Assignment: Chapter 10 “Intimate Life” pg. 449-495.



Week 12: November 16



Reading Assignment: Chapter 11 “Toward a Racial Justice” pg. 499-542.




Week 13: November 23

Identity Paper Due


Chapter 13: Politics and Economic Life

Video: A Nation of Law


Identity Paper Due November 26


Week 14: November 30



Chapter 14: Health, Illness, Sexuality, and Aging




Week 15: December 7



Chapter 15: Urbanization, Population, and the Environment



Week 16: December 14



Exam II: December 14

6:00-8:00 p.m.

(Chapters 8-11)



This first written assignment should be about 5 pages-long, 12-pt-font, 1-inch margin all around, double-spaced. You will be graded based on the articulation of your ideas and analysis!


This paper should NOT be a summary of your life but a critical explanation/ analysis/ assessment of meaning of your racial/ethnic identity in the context of your presence in the U.S.

Read pp. 475-495 (Racial Domination, Racial Progress) for concepts and ideas. Use those concepts to reflect on the meaning of your racial/ethnic identity.

This identity paper is about developing an introspective analysis of who you are and how you have become yourself. More precisely, I want you to think critically and reflect on the process by which you have developed your identity. There is NO RIGHT or WRONG! Knowing that race, ethnicity and other identification markers are socially defined, what are the meanings associated with who you are, about what you are trying to achieve and the struggles you face everyday?


 Do you identify yourself in racial/ethnic terms?


  • If yes, when have you started thinking about it? What does that precisely mean to you?
  • Is it something that you have proudly adopted or was it forced on you? Family members? Good or bad social interactions with others? Society? Images? Labels? Stereotypes? Etc…
    • Do you see yourself more in racial or ethnic terms?
    • How do you think others see you/ perceive you?
    • Discuss how whites and people of color see you/perceive you?
    • Does your gender impact the way you identity yourself? If yes, how so?
    • Is gender more important than racial/ethnic identity for you? Do they go hand-in-hand? Explain. Develop
    • What about your socio-economic status? What about your sexuality?


  • If not, then what is your primary identification marker? And why?
  • Is it because it does not mean anything to you or is it because you refuse to be categorized in one group?
    • Why doesn’t it mean anything to you?
    • Why do you think it might be a problem for you to be categorized?
  • What does it mean for you to think of yourself as a “non-racial/ethnic” person?
  • Do you think people see you as a “non-racial/ethnic” person? Develop
    • Thinking about it critically, don’t you think that your “non-racial/ethnic identity” actually carries some racial/ethnic meaning?
    • Discuss how whites and people of color see you/perceive you?
    • Can everybody really do away from his or her racial/ethnic identity?
  • Does your gender impact the way you identify yourself?
    • If yes, how so?
    • Is gender more important than racial/ethnic identity for you? Develop
  • What about your socio-economic status? What about your sexuality?


  • Reflect on one aspect of your identity which is “privileged.” How do you benefit from this privilege? How does this privilege coincide with your racial/ethnic identity?



               Students will demonstrate through original written and/or oral analysis their ability to identify

                sociological perspectives (conflict, structural functionalist, interactionist) and apply the

                                sociological perspectives to social event  and occurrences.


Inadequate              Student cannot successfully identify theoretical perspectives, and analyze cause and effects of events in the social world.


Developing              Student shows limited understanding of theoretical perspectives and demonstrates marginal capacity to link them to the social world


Adequate                 Student can identify some of the theoretical perspectives and can connect them in an adequate manner to the social world.


Accomplished         Student has a good understanding of theoretical perspectives. A competent student can explain thoroughly the relationship between theoretical perspectives and the social world.


Mastery                   Student clearly and elegantly demonstrates great understanding of different theoretical perspectives, and draws critical connection between these perspectives and the social world.



                                Students will identify, understand and analyze social institutions, issues and social problems

                                utilizing the three major sociological perspectives


Inadequate              Student cannot identify social institutions, issues and social problems through theory.


Developing              Student demonstrates some awareness of social institutions, issues and social problems through a theoretical lens.


Adequate                 Student can critique/argue theoretically the value of some social institutions, issues and social problems.


Accomplished         Student demonstrates finely tuned awareness of social institutions, issues and social problems using different theoretical perspectives.


Mastery                   Student demonstrates a superior awareness and critique of social institutions, issues and social problems using advanced theoretical arguments.



                                Information competency

                               Students will demonstrate the ability to locate, retrieve and evaluate sociological articles,

                journals, books and other sociologically related materials.


Inadequate              Student cannot identify and evaluate sociological articles and other sociologically related materials.


Developing              Student is able to locate some sociological materials without demonstrating providing extensive evaluation of the material.


Adequate                 Student demonstrates an understanding of where to find some of the sociological relevant information and can present some general understanding of different points of view.


Accomplished         Student has been able to locate most of the relevant information and is able to demonstrate knowledge of the diversity of sociological opinions.


Mastery                   Student can identify most of the important sociological information and demonstrates a superior understanding of different points of view.



               Social responsibility

              Students will compare and contrast the experiences and issues impacting minority groups with

               that of mainstream groups in power, including issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation,

               deviance, culture, poverty, and global inequality, and social stratification.


Inadequate              Student lacks understanding of marginalized groups in relation to the dominant power structure. Student cannot explain the relevant issues of race, class and gender and their importance in sociological analysis. Student shows lacks of interest and motivation for the course material.


Developing              Student exhibits minimal understanding of marginalized groups in relation to the dominant power structure. Student understands the relevance of race, class and gender in sociological analysis. Student shows some effort but is not always prepared for class.


Adequate                 Student exhibits some understanding of the experiences of marginalized groups and can compare them through a race, class and gender sociological approach.


Accomplished         Student can compare and contrast most important issues relating to marginalized groups and can

                explain how the power structure contributes to these particular experiences.


Mastery                   Student demonstrates superior sociological understanding of minority perspectives. Student can        compare and contrast the experiences of marginalized groups using a comprehensive sociological approach to race, class, and gender.