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ETHS 342 Contemporary Issues in Black America

Using contemporary research, first person narratives, and data, students will examine the state of Black America while addressing complex economic, social, political, and environmental issues that Black communities and Black people across the United States continue to face. Students can expect to engage with a range of interdisciplinary texts and sources in order to contextualize Black achievement and progress alongside ongoing resistance movements and demands for social justice. Materials focused on the legacy of enslavement, the impact of centuries of anti-black policies and practices, and the depth of state violence will be covered in order to illuminate contemporary issues related to housing, education, policing, health, work, and everyday life and their impact on Black communities. Significant focus is given to issues of race and racism.

Learning outcomes


  • Survey and analyze a plethora of ongoing and new social, political, cultural, economic, and environmental issues impacting Black Americans today.
  • Identify and define various oppressive structures, racist policies and practices, and systems of violence that frame the state of Black America, produce demands for equity and social justice, and respond to expressions of Black agency and resistance.
  • Articulate multiple systems of interlocking oppression "race, gender, class, etcetera" and examine their impact on Black education, wealth, health, families, housing, and overall well-being.
  • Effectively communicate their understanding of current events and cultural phenomena in Black America by critically engaging historical, theoretical and conceptual texts, literature, and multimedia resources.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Employ the methods and data that historians and social and behavioral scientists use to investigate the human condition.
  • Examine social institutions and processes across a range of historical periods and cultures.
  • Use and critique alternative explanatory systems or theories.
  • Develop and communicate alternative explanations or solutions for contemporary social issues.

Goal 7: Human Diversity

  • Understand the development of and the changing meanings of group identities in the United States' history and culture.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the individual and institutional dynamics of unequal power relations between groups in contemporary society.
  • Analyze their own attitudes, behaviors, concepts and beliefs regarding diversity, racism, and bigotry.
  • Describe and discuss the experience and contributions (political, social, economic, etc.) of the many groups that shape American society and culture, in particular those groups that have suffered discrimination and exclusion.
  • Demonstrate communication skills necessary for living and working effectively in a society with great population diversity.