The Politics of Race Course Titles

Aptly titled courses and robust descriptions teach students a valuable lesson in speaking uncomfortable racial truths to white power, argues Ted Thornhill.

By Ted Thornhill – April 6, 2018 – Inside Higher Ed

Race and Ethnic Relations. Excited? Neither is anyone else. I certainly wasn’t when I took a course by this title as an undergraduate sociology major. And I don’t imagine my students were intrigued by Race Relations, the title of the first race course I taught as a graduate student about a decade ago.

Those courses have titles and descriptions that are about as compelling as particle board furniture instructions. They belie the complex and vital content we teach in them, and they contribute to promoting and buttressing inaccurate beliefs about racial matters. So why do so many of us continue to teach race courses with these types of names? It needn’t be this way.

Aptly titled race courses and robust course descriptions teach students a valuable first lesson in speaking uncomfortable racial truths to white power. They can also serve as powerful searchlights, drawing local, national and even international attention to the white supremacist nature of American society, and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, such courses are few and far between.  Continue reading “The Politics of Race Course Titles”


Why I teach a course called ‘White Racism’

Ted Thornhill – The Conversation

February 1, 2018

The need for students to learn about racism in American society existed long before I began teaching a course called “White Racism” at Florida Gulf Coast University earlier this year.

I chose to title my course “White Racism” because I thought it was scholarly and succinct, precise and powerful.

But others saw it differently. Many white Americans (and some people of color) became upset when they learned about this course.

Thousands took to social media and far right news sites and racist blogs to attack the course and me personally.

Some 150 of these individuals sent me hateful and threatening messages.

Continue reading “Why I teach a course called ‘White Racism’”