Ideas for a Civic Issues blog on Race

Affirmative Action: What are the ideological values that cause people to defend or reject affirmative action policies? What beliefs or values are located in the rhetoric of the phrase “affirmative action”? Are there certain geographical places (i.e., where there is a more homogeneous population) or certain professions where affirmative action policies are particularly necessary or unnecessary? Are affirmative action policies useful in promoting long-term and sustainable structural equality? Perhaps consequently, are there hidden costs to its benefits? Is race the only (or most appropriate) consideration for affirmative action policies?

Diversity: Every college admissions pamphlet in the country touts its campus’s “commitment to diversity.” What does a commitment to diversity entail? What are the effects such a commitment is designed to produce? What have claims that “we’re committed to diversity” overlooked? If one lives or works somewhere without diversity, what are the consequences? How can diversity be fostered where it doesn’t naturally exist? What versions of diversity do Americans often take issue with, and why?

Multiculturalism: A rhetorical commonplace in the U.S. is to utilize the metaphor of a “melting pot” to describe its confluence of cultures. Is this still a useful metaphor?  What does it imply about assimilation, acculturation, and what happens to the cultural identities of people of other nationalities when they emigrate to the U.S.?  What other metaphors might pertain?  To what extent are immigrants expected to assimilate (culturally, linguistically, socially)?  To what extent should they be expected to?  How have questions of immigration and American identity played out in the past?  Is there anything such as an “authentic” American culture? If so, what makes a culture authentic? How does membership get constituted in a “subculture”? What does it mean when subcultures move into the “mainstream,” and how should we evaluate these shifts?

Post-racial America?: Another more recent rhetorical commonplace in the U.S., coinciding with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, is that the country has become “post-race.” What does it mean to be “post-race,” either as an individual, a community, a culture, or a country?  How does this notion of being “post-race” relate to the similar notion of colorblindness?  What effects does this have at the level of identity, in the workforce, or legislatively? Even if becoming “post-race” is an impossibility, does it represent an ethical framework we should promote? Or are there hidden consequences to thinking “post-racially” we should be wary of?