For my project I’m thinking about using several different primary sources. One of the books I was considering using was Invisible Man by Ellison. The book focuses on a man that is considered invisible because he is black. I would also like to use another book named Between The World and Me by Coats. The book by Coats combats the idea of invisibleness proposed years before by Ellison in 1952. The questions I’m trying to focus on is how race and racism works in the brain. Both these books will help to get to a more definite answer to how race effects whites as well as blacks. I hope that this project will lead to answer my primary question of how race distinctions only exist in the mind and or brain and are not a physical characteristic of humans.

My primary secondary source will be Desmond, Matthew and Mustafa Emirbayer. 2016. Race in America. New York: WW Norton. This is a sociology textbook discussing how race functions in America and advantages and disadvantages associated with race. It also talks about how racist behaviors and actions began in America and how it is a continued phenomenon in a country that claims to be “color blind.” My other secondary source will be Bonilla­Silva, Eduardo. 2010. Racism Without Racists: Color­Blind Racism & Racial Inequality in Contemporary America. Third Edition. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. This book poses questions related to race and racism in present day situations and offer real life answers by subjects from the study. With further research I hope to find sources that explain how conditioning works in the brain and brain-washing which will lead to a possible explanation of how racism works.

My motive for this project is to understand how racism is taught and not innate. My purpose is simple which is to add to the conservation of how racism is an ongoing phenomenon which needs to be removed in order to have true “equality.” There have been hundreds of books written in multiple styles to address the problem of how racism works in America, but I hope to add to the conversation by exploring how conditioned perspectives help to perpetuate racism in the twenty-first contrary.

3 Comments so far

  1.   Brandon Hernandez on November 22nd, 2016

    I can definitely see where you’re going with this and made me think of a great contributor to your proposal, Jane Elliot. She’s an American anti-racism activist, educator, public speaker, feminist, and LGBT activist. She goes as far as someone’s eye color. I highly suggest looking into her work.

  2.   Krystal Dillon on November 28th, 2016

    I think that as a general field of inquiry you have identified your aims well. From what I understand, you intend to research how racism works as a learned process (not innate) and how the two books you mentioned as primary sources, portray the effects of racism psychologically? I think that maybe through finding more secondary sources you can narrow your research question further. I think that because you are using two primary sources you should explain the connection you see between the two. For example, there are multiple books which tackle the topic of race and racism, why specifically have you chosen Ellison and Coates’ texts? What ways do these novels approach race and racism differently or similarly? Do they both represent the psychological effects of racism in the same way? I think you have already identified one connection in your first paragraph, where you state that Ellison creates a character who feels he is rendered invisible by his race, however Coates is preoccupied with the hypervisibility of the black body in our current moment. You can speak about the manifestations of each novel’s depiction of racial consciousness being affected by the author’s historical moment. Also can the differences within each book’s critique of racism be attributed to genre, given that Ellison’s work is fiction, while Coate’s memoir is non-fiction? Do you intend to use a specific theoretical framework to analyze the ways race/racism is portrayed in each text? Overall, I think that you have to identify what each novel says about race/racism that you find significant.

    P.S. I read a few chapters of Barbara and Karen Field’s book ‘Racecraft’ which might be useful to you in your research, given that they speak about a lot of the ideas you mention about racism.

  3.    on December 4th, 2016

    I think you have a good idea of what you’re interested in, but that it will need to be more narrowly defined for this project. Especially because of how you mentioned being worried about everything on this topic having been discussed already. I also have a wide topic and I worry about spending too much of the paper giving historical context and not enough on the primary texts.

    Following up on what Professor Tougaw mentioned in class last week, and Krystal’s suggestions, I think picking one manifestation of racism, that’s present in both books is good a place to start. I haven’t read Coates’ book, but it sounds likely the actions of the police against black bodies would be a part of it. That could tie in well with the issue of police brutality in Invisible Man. This might even relate to that Times article you mentioned in class?

    I liked how you were specific in saying how Coates’ book combats the idea of invisibility. Again, going off of Krystal’s suggestion about focusing on fiction versus memoir, ask questions about what the genre change implies. Maybe you’re interested in how fiction allows Ellison the ability to be invisible and hidden when he chooses, compared to the unavoidable visibility in Coates’ non-fiction book. And what it means that Ellison says at the end of the book that he knows he can’t stay that way forever. Also the more surreal elements of the book, like the way Ellison narrates a few chapters like dream sequences even when they’re not dreams (I don’t know if that relates to Coates’ book though).

    If you take the comparative approach, you can better know what other secondary sources you need, as in do you want to reconcile differences between Ellison and Coates’ views, or agree/disagree with something they both do the same? I don’t think there’s any lack of critique on the works you chose, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to contribute. I think the direction will be clearer once you decide which of the Gaipa strategies you’ll use to engage other work on the topic.

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