Composition Reading Bank: Race & Ethnicity

An Open Educational Resource for Composition Courses

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Allen, Amaya. "50 Shades of Black: My Experience with Colorism" [TED Talk]  infoAllen discusses her experiences with Colorism. She provides an operational definition, historical context, and cultural analysis on Colorism. (First-Person Perspective; Expository; Argument; Research)

Beech, Peter. "What is Environmental Racism?" [YouTube Video]  infoBeech describes the term “environmental racism” and provides specific examples in the U.S. and globally. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository)

Bennett, Geoffrey. "Hip-Hop: A Roadblock or Pathway to Black Empowerment?"  info In this 2001 article, Bennett contrasts the legacy of social responsibility in hip-hop with its commercial success. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Crenshaw, Kimberle. "Race, Gender, Inequality and Intersectionality" [YouTube Video]  infoIn this lecture, Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw, a law professor, frames "Black Lives Matters" as a discourse of resistance. Explores notion of post-racialism and color-blindness in the law. (Third-Person Perspective; Argument; Analysis; Definition)

Crenshaw, Kimberle. "The Urgency of Intersectionality" [TED Talk] Warning: Explicit Content  infoDr. Kimberle Crenshaw, a law professor, introduces the concept of intersectionality as it relates to state-sanctioned violence against Black women. Crenshaw coined the term "intersectionality" to identify, or frame, simultaneous impacts of race, gender, and class. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Narrative; Exposition; Analysis; Analogy; Public Speaking)

Crosley-Corcoran, Gina. "Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person"  infoCrosley-Corcoran discusses her childhood poverty and her own dawning awareness that, regardless of her economic or social status, she benefitted from white privilege. She acknowledges the arguments poor whites would voice in response to that claim and argues that acknowledging privilege does not mean you must feel guilty or hated. (First- and Second-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Fombo, Mena. "No, You Can’t Touch My Hair" [TED Talk]  infoDr. Mena Fombo discusses a social experiment examining the phenomenon of black hair-touching. Fombo draws connections to historical treatment of Black women's bodies. The presentation explores the relationship between power, prejudice, racism, and microaggressions. (First-Person Perspective; Narrative; Expository; Research)

Glaude Jr., Eddie S. "George Floyd's Murder Shows Once More We Cannot Wait for White America to End Racism"  infoGlaude discusses the double bind of video surveillance: needed to convince white America about police brutality and systemic racism, but also an invitation to spectacle. He argues that change is needed now, and that the pandemic has only heightened inequalities in America. (Third-Person Perspective; Argument; Analysis)

Gray, Briahna Joy. "The Question of Cultural Appropriation"  infoGray provides a multi-faceted look at how identity and "ownership" relate to questions of cultural appropriation, borrowing, and exploitation. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Cultural Analysis; Persuasive)

Greene II, Robert. "We Are Living in a Red Spring"  infoGreene compares the Summer of 1919 and Spring of 2020: both had flu pandemics and widespread racist violence against African Americans. He draws further parallels between the portrayals of the violence from police and white vigilantes, the protests in response, and the impact of the pandemics on Black communities, showing a continuum of a racist hierarchy and social order. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

Gross, Kalie Nicole. "By Remembering Our Sisters, We Challenge Violence Against Women and Legacies that Eclipse These Injustices"  infoGross discusses the unjust deaths of Black women at the hands of police, the disproportionate rates of their incarceration, and the lack of prosecution for their assailants when they are victims of rape. Gross argues that the lives of Black women and girls are undervalued. (Third-Person Perspective; Analysis; Argument; Research)

Hannah-Jones, Nikole. "The Idea of America"  infoThis Pulitzer-prize winning essay by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones argues Black Americans have the greatest claim to upholding the ideals of American democracy. (Third-Person Perspective; Literacy Narrative; Analysis; Argument)

Hinton, Elizabeth. "The Minneapolis Uprising in Context"  infoHinton summarizes the uprising in Minneapolis and then places that uprising in the context of a longer struggle for justice in the face of significant disenfranchisement. Hinton analyzes the resistance to understanding events like this as legitimate and effective political action. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive; History)

Jones, Van. "The Economic Injustice of Plastic" [TED Talk]  infoJones, author and founder of several non-profit organizations, addresses the throwaway culture that affects people and their environments. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Speech)

Joseph, Alli. "With Disney’s 'Moana,' Hollywood Almost Gets It Right: Indigenous People Weigh In"  infoJoseph discusses both how the film Moana represents progress in how indigenous people are being portrayed in movies and how critics of the film were disappointed that Disney did not consult indigenous people when making their decisions. (Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive)

Kaufman, Scott. "When Whites Riot Over Pumpkins in NH and Twitter Turns it Into Epic Lesson About Ferguson"  infoKaufman explores the usage of Twitter to highlight the disparity between public perceptions of rioting in the black and white community. Kaufman highlights the tool of irony in tweets for a larger conversation on systemic racism. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository)

King, Martin Luther, Jr. "The Quest for Peace and Justice"  infoThis speech was delivered by Dr. King in 1964 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. King discusses the three main "evils" of society and provides examples of the cause and effect of each. He also discusses what he believes are the solutions to those evils. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Speech; Expository; Persuasive)

King, Sharese and Katherine D. Kinzler. "Op-Ed: Bias Against African American English Speakers is a Pillar of Systemic Racism"  infoKing and Kinzler discuss the cultural and psychological components of linguistic prejudice against African American Vernacular English. (Third-Person Perspective; Research; Persuasive)

Kinzler, Katherine. "Why Some Americans Seem More ‘American’ Than Others"  infoKinzler reviews several research studies that investigate how race, ethnicity, language, and nationality influence the perception of American citizenship. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Research; Analysis)

Louie, Sam. "‘I Don't See Color.’ Then You Don't See Me"  infoLouie discusses the effects of racism while living in a "post-racial" America. He explains that even though many aspects of discrimination have improved, there still exist “microaggressions” (seemingly innocuous racially loaded comments) and a level of stress at trying to "fit in" to white, mainstream culture. He details ways to be aware of how non-white subjects feel about such interactions and stressors and how to be more empathetic and understanding. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive; Narrative)

McClune, Jennifer. "Hip-Hop’s Betrayal of Black Women"  infoMcClune argues for the importance of recognizing and protesting the negative conception of women in hip hop music. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Persuasive)

McCoy, Austin C. "When Whites Riot, Humanity is a Given"  infoMcCoy analyzes a 2014 riot in Keene, NH, where young white people damaged property during the town’s Pumpkin Festival. McCoy illustrates how white privilege shaped public reaction to the Keene riot and to the protests in Ferguson, MO. (Third-Person Perspective; Analysis; Argument)

Morris, Monique. "Why Black Girls are Targeted for Punishment at School – and How to Change That" [TED Talk]  infoMorris argues that all too often, schools push Black girls away by subjecting them to disproportionate levels of discipline based on stereotypes and victim-blaming. She calls on all of us to engage in both the policy revisions and personal work necessary to help schools truly become sites for healing and learning. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Persuasive; Research; Narrative; Speech)

Okoro, Chika. "Confessions of a D Girl: Colorism and Global Standards of Beauty" [TED Talk]  infoOkoro discusses her experience acting as a dark-skinned woman and the colorism and discrimination she experienced. She then discusses colorism in a historical context and the influence of white supremacy on global standards of beauty. (First-Person Perspective; Narrative; Research; Expository; Analysis; Argument)

Ramachandran, Vignesh. "‘Words Matter’ As Asian American Leaders Urge Action Against Hate Crimes"  infoRamachandran explores the language, rhetoric, and historical context surrounding the uptick in hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. (Third-Person Perspective; Reporting; Interview; Analysis)

Reed, Justin Phillip. "Killing Like They Do in the Movies"  infoReed explores the politics of race in America through the lens of the modern horror film. He specifically focuses on how the portrayal of blackness (or the lack of portrayal) in Wes Craven slasher movies tells a story about the legacy of physical and psychological violence against blacks in America. (First-Person Perspective, Persuasive, Cultural Analysis)

Reid, Lauren. "Why Race Matters When We Talk About the Environment: An Interview with Dr. Robert Bullard"  infoReid interviews Robert Bullard for Greenpeace to discuss how race is a significant factor behind injustice and how the environmental movement is changing to address issues of race and class. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Interview; Expository)

Richardson, Allissa V. "Why Cellphone Videos of Black People's Deaths Should Be Considered Sacred, Like Lynching Photographs"  infoRichardson explores the impact of cellphone videos of of Black people's deaths and limitations to the medium. By paralleling these videos to early 20th century lynching photographs, Richardson proposes restraint in the circulation of these videos to avoid becoming exploitative. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository)

"Robert Bullard: How Environmental Racism Shapes the U.S." [Interview Video and Transcript]  infoWalter Isaacson, host on PBS's Amanpour & Co, interviews Robert Bullard, “father of environmental justice,” who shares his life’s work on environmental racism and climate justice. (First- and Third-Person Perspective; Interview; Expository)

Rogers, Melvin. "We Should Be Afraid, but Not of Protesters"  infoCommenting on the Minneapolis protests after George Floyd’s death, Rogers argues that multiple forms of state-sanctioned violence threaten American democracy. (Third-Person Perspective; Argument; Analysis)

Sipin, Melissa R. "‘Filipineza’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Servant’: Notes of Witness from an Immigrant Daughter"  infoSipin describes the history of colonialism, slavery, and human trafficking both in the Philippines and in America. She explains the cultural myth of the "Pilipino" globally and how the slavery that still plagues Filipinos today is different from other forms of slavery but is no less wrong. Sipin seeks to shine a light on these horrors and undo the erasure of the Filipino race, story, and identity by white American culture. (First-Person Perspective; Narrative; Descriptive; Expository)

Smith, Danez. "Dinosaurs in the Hood" [Poem]  infoSmith examines complex and problematic issues of race, stereotypes, and American identity seen in popular film. He imagines what the narrative of an African American boy might look like, set in the rollicking action of Jurassic Park, juxtaposed with the drama of The Pursuit of Happyness and the comedy of Friday, but free from racial film clichés. (First-Person Perspective; Descriptive)

Williams, Kidada E. "For Black Americans, Charleston is the Latest Example of a Hatred As Old As America Itself"  infoWilliams shows how white attacks on Black churches use terror to achieve the political objectives of white social, economic, and political supremacy. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository; Argument; History)

Zaru, Deena. "7 Hip Hop Artists Making America 'Woke' Again"  infoZaru discusses socially aware hip-hop artists and how they can help society when they use their platform. (Third-Person Perspective; Expository)


Except where otherwise indicated, the Composition Reading Bank by Rachel Brooks-Pannell, Shawn Casey, Rebecca Fleming, and Nick Lakostik at Columbus State Community College is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license does not extend to the contents of external web pages.


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