|Springboards for Discussing Old-Style Racism
This page contains "springboards" for discussing the Racism Then section of Understanding Prejudice and Discrimination. Instructors using other textbooks or readings are welcome to edit and adapt these questions as they see fit. Printable versions of this page are also available in Word and pdf formats.
- The "one-drop rule," which defines anyone with one drop of African blood as Black, is unique to the United States. Why was this rule originally developed -- what purpose did it serve?
- Would Black Americans be better off with a different definition than the one-drop rule?
- Would you like to see racial classifications abandoned altogether? (Note: If so, society would have to eliminate race-based affirmative action programs as well as certain medical practices that use racial information for diagnostic and treatment purposes)
- If there is no precise dividing line between races, what does this tell us about the psychology of racism?
- What role did science play in the historical development of racial prejudice, and what role does it play today?
- What role, if any, has society's behavior toward animals played in setting the psychological stage for its treatment of racial minorities?
- Do you think the term "concentration camp" accurately describes the kind of facility in which the U.S. government confined Japanese Americans during World War II?
- Has the U.S. government used euphemistic language to cover up its internment of Japanese Americans? If so, what is the reason for using euphemisms? If not, why not?
- Why do American history textbooks rarely mention "Operation Wetback"? (Note: "Operation Wetback" was a 1950s anti-immigrant campaign in which the U.S. government deported Mexican-American citizens without allowing them a chance to assert their constitutional rights.)
- Do you support the idea of U.S. government compensation, or "reparations," for the enslavement of African Americans? If so, how should such reparations be made? If not, why not?
- If you had been an American college student in the 1960s, how involved would you have been in the civil rights movement? Would you have participated in lunch counter sit-ins? Freedom rides in the Deep South?
- Are college students today as committed to social justice as students were in the 1960s? Why or why not?