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2 - Saint Leo - Building A Multi-Racial Society

Assignment 2 - 020 points - Take Home Mid-Term Exam

This assignment must be typed and turned in as a hard copy by 9:15 AM on Thursday, September. We will be going over all of the questions carefully in class on Tuesday, September 13 and you can contact me anytime via text, phone or email or come to my Office Hours if you have any specific questions about this assignment. I will return your graded assignments in class on Tuesday, September 20 and you will then have the option of re-writing and re-submitting your assignment for more points by class time (i.e., 8 AM) on Thursday, September 20.

Answer each one of the following ten questions using between 45 and 90 words of good, clear prose without any glaring spelling, grammatical or typographical errors. For each question you will receive up to one point for engaging the question directly and showing an understanding of the question and up to one point for discussing all of the instructional materials and/or reader/textbook selections referenced for a maximum score of ten points.


01. How does Eddie Murphy's comedic skit White Like Me reference some of the narrative conventions of a classic American The Minstrel Show? You can access the skit here. In order to receive the full points on this question you must reference Murphy's skit specifically - again it is here - and at least two of the examples of a class American Minstrel Show archived here. Be sure to explain and defend your response. *Just as a little note, Murphy's skit was written in response to John Howard Griffin's 1961 book "Black Like Me," which is generally considered as a work of investigation more than a journalistic version of The Minstrel Show.

02. Marisa Meltzer argues that the early 21st century pop cultural phenomena of very thin actors performing in prosthetic fat suits is simply another incarnation (or extension of) the late 19th, early 20th century pop cultural phenomena of White actors performing in Black face. You can read her theory in more detail here. Now, does the little scene below - wherein comedian Eddie Murphy performs all the characters, except for the little boy at the table - support or refute Meltzer's argument? The key here to your answer is recognizing that a thin, African-American man is the one performing both fatness and Blackness or African-Americanness in this clip. You can see what Eddie looks like in real life in the clip provided in Question 01 or click here.

03. What is the difference between performing fatness - like Eddie Murphy does in The Nutty Professor (1996) above - or performing Blackness (like White performers did in The Minstrel Show) versus really being fat or really being African-American? Create your answer by referencing this little clip from the film Precious (2009) and speculating on what it might be like to be Clarice Precious Jones. Your answer will be pure speculation here, based simply on the evidence you can glean from this little clip of film, this little clip of a story. If you want some more to go on you can access an excerpt from the novel that Precious was based on here. But you don't have to. All you need in terms of answering this question for your points, is watching the clip below closely and speculating.

04. How, according to Mueller, Dirks and Picca can the American ritual of Halloween be racist and based on their research, do you think some of the ways people celebrate Halloween is as racist as any one of the examples you can find here of The Minstrel Show. Below is where you can find the selection by Mueller, Dirks and Picca.
  • Higginbotham and Anderson, Race and Ethnicity in Society, The Changing Landscape - Part I, Section III, Chapter 15, "Unmasking Racism: Costuming and Engagement of the Racial Other," by Mueller, Dirks and Picca, pp. 110-118
05. Read the following selections from your Higginbotham + Anderson textbook Race + Ethnicity in Society, The Changing Landscape (2008) and simply compare and contrast how each author defines race, selecting the one you think is best. Be sure to explain why you chose the definition you chose over the others - i.e., show me that you carefully read all of the selections - and be sure to defend your response. Just as a little hint: The editors of your textbook, Higgenbotham and Andersen offer a nice summation of these selections on pp. 3-5 to help you formulate your answer.





4. How was the concept of color-blindness dramatized in the 1965 film A Patch of Blue and is this dramatization what Eduardo Bonilla-Silva means by the term color-blind racism? Explain and defend your response. I screened clips from A Patch of Blue (1965) in class on Tuesday, August 30, but a reproduced a few scenes below for your reference. There is also a nice summary of the film here. Bonilla-Silva's definition for the term color-blind racism can be found in Chapter 1 of his book Racism Without Racists (2014).

5. Learn about the story of Emmett Till below. Would Eduardo Bonilla-Silva call this story an example of what he would call Old Racism or New Racism and why? In order to get your full points on this question you must reference the documentary about Emmett below, as well as Chapter 2 of Bonilla-Silva's book Racism Without Racists (2014) specifically. Need a hint on how to focus your answer? Look for Bonilla-Silva's reference to the story of Trayvon Martin as a strong point of comparison to the story of Emmett Till. This is just a suggestion. There are many ways to answer this question.