Perspectives on Justice and Racism: The African-American Experience

Perspectives on Justice & Racism: The African-American Experience
AACS 155; 3 Credits

Analysis of racism in the formulation and implementation of the law, in the courts, in penal institutions and in the police department. Attention is also given to the historical and sociocultural problems associated with the attainment of social justice for African-Americans.



The course will:

  • clarify and analyze the nature of US racist attitudes and practices of contemporary society.
  • critically consider a variety of theoretical explanations for individual and institutional racism.
  • investigate those major legal documents which determine the “de jure” and the “de facto” status of black men and women in the Diaspora.
  • evaluate the impact of gender and race/ethnicity on the legal system in North America.
  • investigate several models for social change that seek to eliminate racism in North America.


Students will:

1. show knowledge of past and present racist practices and attitudes in the U.S. in an essay or exam.

2. explain several theoretical explanations for racism and will explain the difference between individual prejudices and institutional racism in an essay or exam.

3. discuss some of the legal and social realities that have determined the status of black men and women in the Diaspora in an essay or exam.

4.. demonstrate some solutions for ending the social problems caused by racism in a classroom

5. critically write about and discuss the issues addressed in this course in an essay or exam.

6. work cooperatively with others in small class discussion groups


Week One Introduction

Weeks Two, Three The Origins and Causes of Ethnic Inequality

Weeks Four, Five The American Revolution:

Independence Movement vs. Black Rights

Weeks Six, Seven Justice, Racism, and the Media

Weeks Eight, Nine Affirmative Action and Related Justice Issues

Weeks Ten, Eleven Justice, Racism, and the Black Family

Weeks Twelve, Thirteen Justice and the Caribbean-American

Weeks Fourteen, Fifteen Justice and White Ethnics

Week Sixteen Conclusion



Small group discussions

Plenary discussions


Guest speakers


Review questions


Research papers



Grades will be determined by evaluations of the course requirements. For example, journal entries could count for 20% of the grade; exams could count for 40% of the grade; review questions could count for 20% of the grade; and attendance and participation could count for 20% of the grade.



In the Matter of Color. Race and the Legal Process – The Colonial Period, by A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., American Philological Association, 1972.

Majority-Minority Relations , by John E. Farley, 4 th ed., Prentice Hall, 1999.

Solutions for the New Millennium – Race, Class, and Gender, by Vernon McClean, Kendall/Hunt, 1999.

Short readings:

  • The Origins and Causes of Ethnic Inequality
  • “Origins of Racial & Ethnic Inequality in the U.S.”, pp. 95 to 106 in Farley.
  • “The American Legal System and Majory-Minority Relations,” pp. 316 to 335 in Farley.
  • Vernon McClean, “The Kerner Commission: 30 Years Later,” The Urban News, June 6-12, 1998, p. 12.
  • Vernon McClean, “How Racism Hurts White Students,” The Urban News, September 18-24, 1998, p. 7.
  • “Police Violence has Heavy Impact on N.J. Blacks,” The Daily Challenge, September 9, 2002.
  • Jonathan Schuppe, “Memo Says Racism-Sexism Democralizes Force,” The Star Ledger, February l9, 2003, p. l.
  • G. George E. Curry, “Mandela Sees an ‘Element’ of Racism,’ Carib News, October l, 2002. BEA
  • The American Revolution: Independence Movement vs. Black Rights
  • “Declaration of Independence” (Higginbotham, Chapt. 11)
  • “Evolving Race-Based Laws in Colonial Virginia” (Higginbotham, Chapters 1 &2)
  • Vernon McClean, “Historial Examples of Black Conservatism,” The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 8, No. 3, . p. 148.
  • Vernon McClean, “Weapons of Newt Gingrich,” The Beacon, September 18, 1995.
  • Tom Hester, Group: Campaign System Hurts Minorities, Star Ledger, February 5, 2004

    Justice, Racism, and the Media
  • “The Media on ‘Parade,’” Daily Challenge, Vol. 27, No. 197, January 7, 1999.
  • Vernon McClean, “Parade” “A Brutal Play With A Brutal Message,” Cemotap Drum, Vol. 12, No. 1.
  • Vernon McClean, “Tupac Shakur and Black Masculinity,” The Activist Epizine, Vol. 1, No. 3.
  • “Media Giants,” FRONTLINE, June 26, 2004.
  • Kevin Merida, “Capital Scene: Linking Power to Political Contributions,” EMERGE MAGAZINE, February l999.
  • Vernon McClean, “Hollywood Mirros Societal Double Standard,” Irvington Herald, May 27, 2004.
  • Wiley A. Hall, 3 rd., “It Seems Like You’re Ready: R. Kelly,” Savoy Magazine, August 2002

    Affirmative Action and Related Justice Issues
  • Vernon McClean, “Real Life Lessons About Why Affirmative Action Matters,” New York Times, February 2, 1997, Section 13, p. 23 in the textbook.
  • “Legal Aspects of the Affirmative-Action Controversy,” p. 447-453 in the textbook by Farley.
  • “Affirmative Action,” pp. 438-446 in the textbook by Farley.
  • Paul Rockwell, John Russo, and Larry Hendel, “Angry White Guys for Affirmative Action,” p. 121 in the textbook by McClean.
  • Joy Anne Grune, “Pay Equity Is A Necessary Remedy For Wage Discrimination,” p. 103 in the textbook by McClean.
  • Craig Flournoy, “Federally Subsidized Housing In America,” p. 125 in the textbook by McClean.
  • Vernon McClean, “Sticks and Stones . . . But Names Do Hurt,” The Urban News, June 13-19, 1998, p. 12.

    Justice, Racism, and the Black Family
  • Vernon McClean, “What if Clinton Were Black?” The Urban News, October 2-8, 1998, p. 7.
  • Vernon McClean, “‘Take Our Daughters?’ Always Have,” The New York Times, April 21, 1996, Section 13, p. 79 in the textbook.
  • Vernon McClean, “Repercussions of Sexual Assault In The Black Community,” The Urban News, April 11, 1998, p. 12.
  • Ed Wiley, III and Jacqueline Conclatore, “Solutions to Black Male Prison Crisis,” p. 155 in the textbook by McClean.
  • Vernon McClean, “Blacks, Women, and Gays,” The American Psychological Association, Vol. 3., #3.
  • Hillary Clinton, “Adults Can Combat Juvenile Crime,” p. 275 in the text book by McClean.
  • Lynette Clemetson, “Links Beteen Prison and AIDS Affecting Blacks Inside and Out,” The New York Times, August 9, 2004.

    Justice and the Caribbean-American
  • Vernon McClean, “Common Ground: Between African-Americans and African-Caribbean,” The Westchester County Press, Vol. 60, No. 34.
  • Vernon McClean, “The Caribbean Hurricane and the Looters,” The City Sun, Vol. 11, No. 42.
  • Vernon McClean, “Racism and the Hurricane,” The Connection, Vol. 7, No. 36.
  • Vernon McClean, “One Love: Caribbean Immigrants in New Jersey,” The Urban News, April 25-May 1, 1998.
  • Vernon McClean, “Disney’s Haiti,” The Urban News, September 25-October 1, 1998, p. 7.
  • Ana Class-Rivera, “Through Boricua Eyes,” p. 271 in the text book by McClean.
  • “ Jamaica: Gay-Bashing Institutionalized,” Amnesty Now Magazine, Summer 2004.

    Justice and White Ethnics
  • Vernon McClean, “Irish and Blacks,” The Irvington Herald Vol. 83, No. 19, p. 151 in the textbook.
  • “Civil Rights Issues Facing Asian Americans In The 1990’s,” p. 283 in the textbook by McClean.
  • James Baldwin, “Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White,” New York Times Magazine, April 9, 1967. Reprinted in The New York Amsterdam News, April 2, 1994.
  • Vernon McClean, “MLK on Khalid Muhammad, Urban News, September 11-17, 1998, p. 7.
  • Desmond Tutu, “Apartheid in the Holy Land,” The Guardian, April 29, 2002.
  • Octavio de la Suaree, “Cubans In The United States,” p. 117 in the textbook by McClean
  • John E. Farley, “Cross-cultural Studies of Majority-Minority Relations,” pp. 191-194 & 204-206.
  • “John Kerry and Middle East: A Work in Progress?” Editorial, The Jewish Press, July l6, 2004, p. 6l.
  • Matthew E. Berger, “Dozens of Democrats Refuse to Condemn Ruling on Security Fence,” The Jewish Press, July 23, 2004, p. 3.
  • Michael Bobrow, “Ex-Terrorist Supporter of PLO About to Become President of South Africa,” The Jewish Press, February 25, l994, p. 58.
  • Donald Kaul, “How our War Leaders Dodged the Army,” Liberal Opinion Week, September 29, 2003., p. 21


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Bernal, M. (1987). Black Athena: The Afroasiatic roots of classical civilization, Volume I: The fabrication of ancient Greece 1785-1985. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

_________ (1991). Black Athena: The Afroasiatic roots of classical civilization, Volume II: The archeological and documentary evidence. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Chileya, F. (1995). Don’t believe the hype: Fighting cultural misinformation about African-Americans. New York: Penguin.

Collins, P.H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Boston: Urwin Hyman.

Cyrus, V. (1999). Experiencing Race, Class and Gender in the United States, 3 rd ed., New York: McGraw-Hill.

Feagin, J. R. and H. Vera. (1995). White racism. New York: Routledge.

Ford, C. W. (1994). We can all get along: 50 steps you can take to help end racism. New York: Dell Publishing.

Gooding-Williams, R. (Ed.). (1993). Reading Rodney King: Reading urban uprising. New York: Routledge.

Hooks, b. Black looks: Race and representation. Boston: South End Press.

McClean, V. (1999). Solutions for the New Millennium: Race, Class, and Gender, edited by Vernon McClean, Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt.

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Takaki, R. (1993). A different mirror: A history of multicultural America. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Tatum, B. D. (1999). “Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?” And other conversations about race. New York: Basic Books.

West, C. (1993). Race matters. Boston: Beacon Press.

PREPARER'S NAME AND DATE: Dr. Vernon McClean, August 2000


REVISER'S NAME AND DATE: Dr. Vernon McClean, June 2001