Race and American Democracy

Government 340

Professor Philip Klinkner

MW 2:30-3:45


Course Description:

Although founded on a belief in human equality, racial inequalities have been persistent and fundamental to American politics. Since before the creation of the republic and continuing to this day, notions of race and the resulting racial hierarchies have powerfully shaped conceptions of American national identity, the development of American political institutions, the formulation of political attitudes and behavior, and the operation and impact of nearly every aspect of public policy. Consequently, any full understanding of American politics requires knowledge of these issues. This course will examine the role of race in the historical development of American politics, contemporary American racial attitudes, and the relationships between race and various important policy topics.



The following books are required for the course and available at the College Bookstore. To save money, you may also look into buying these books online. Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com are the best known, but also look at Bestbookbuys.com to search for the cheapest prices.


Philip A. Klinkner with Rogers Smith, The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America

Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race

Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible

Donald R. Kinder and Lynn M. Sanders, Divided By Color: Racial Politics and Democratic Ideals

Paul Frymer, Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America

Keith Reeves, Voting Hopes or Fears: White Voters, Black Candidates, and Racial Politics in America

Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass

Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro, Black Wealth, White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality

Michael Tonry, Malign Neglect: Race, Crime, and Punishment in America

Derek Bok and William Bowen, The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions

Additional readings will be placed on reserve in library or distributed in class.





Research Paper






The bulk of your grade will come from weekly quizzes on the readings. Quizzes will take place each Monday at the beginning of class and will cover the readings assigned for that week. Each quiz will consist of 4 short answer questions (50% of the quiz grade) along with one brief essay question (50% of the quiz grade). Thirteen quizzes will be given, but your grade will be based on your 10 best scores.


Paper Assignments:

The writing assignment for this class is to produce a research paper of approximately 15 pages on any topic of your choosing. Possible topics include: examining a particularly important event in the history of American race relations; an analysis of the portrayal of blacks and whites in television news; a study of residential segregation in a particular community; or any other topic that will yield insights into the role of race in American democracy. Topics must be approved by me and you are encouraged to discuss potential topics with me as early and frequently as possible.

Whatever topic you choose, your research papers must provide a comprehensive survey of the important literature on the topic along with a clear and cogent analysis of the relevant issues.

The papers will be handed in on the following schedule:

February 14: Paper Topics: This should briefly (1-2 pages) describe the topic you have chosen and offer a preliminary thesis statement on which you will base your research

March 27: Rough Drafts: A complete version of the paper for me to review.

May 3: Final Drafts: The final draft of your paper to be submitted for a grade


Office Hours:

My office is in KJ 217. My office hours are MW 1-2:30 and by appointment. I can be reached at x4344 or by email at pklinkne.


Course Schedule:

The topics and readings for each week are as follows. Please do the readings for that week in the order listed.




Jan. 17

Race and American Democracy

Jacobson, Introduction
Begley, "Three is Not Enough"
Bonilla-Silva, "Rethinking Racism"

Jan. 24

Race and American Democracy

Tocqueville, "Equality of Condition"
Hartz, "The Concept of A Liberal Society"
Smith, "Beyond Tocqueville, Myrdal, and Hartz"
Klinkner with Smith (KWS), Introduction

Jan. 31

Race and American History

KWS, Chs.1-4
Jacobson, Chs. 1-2
West, Vindicating the Founders, Ch. 1
Bell, "The Real Status of Blacks Today"

Feb. 7

Race and American History

KWS, Chs. 5-9
Jacobson, Ch. 3
Thernstrom and Thernstrom (T&T), Introduction and Part 1

Feb. 14

Public Opinion

T&T, Ch. 17
Kinder and Sanders
Sniderman and Carmines, "The Moral Basis of a Color-Blind Politics"
Wolfe, One Nation After All (Excerpts)

Feb. 21

Party Politics

T&T, Ch. 11

Feb. 28


T&T, Ch. 16
Valelly, "Voting Rights in Jeopardy"

March 6


T&T, Ch. 8
Massey and Denton

March 27

Wealth and Income

T&T, Ch. 7
Oliver and Shapiro
Conley, "Getting Into the Black: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy"

April 3


Williams, "The Great Family Fraud of Postwar America"
Brown, "Race in the American Welfare State"
T&T, Ch. 9
Gilens, "The Invisible and Visible Black Poor"
Gilens, "With Friends Like These"
Gilens, "Media Misrepresentations

April 10


T&T, Ch. 10

April 17


T&T, Chs. 12-13
Orfield and Yun, "Resegregation in American Schools"
Darling-Hammond, "Race, Education, and Equal Opportunity"
Jencks and Phillips, "The Black-White Test Score Gap"
Steele, "Thin Ice: 'Stereotype Threat' and Black College Students"

April 24

Affirmative Action

T&T, Ch. 14
Bok and Bowen Chs. 1-4, 9-10
T&T, "Reflections on The Shape of the River"
One America Report, Ch. 4

May 3


T&T, Conclusion
KWS, Conclusion