W. E. B. Du Bois – The Souls of Black Folk- 1,2

Booker T. Washington – Up from Slavery_ An Autobiography- ch 4,5

Booker T. Washington – Up from Slavery_ An Autobiography-ch 1-3

Cornel West – Race Matters- 3,4

Cornel West – Race Matters-intro,1,2

Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 1-5

Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 6-10

MLK – Beyond Vietnam

MLK – The Other America

Morrison, Toni – Sula

Ta nehisi Coates – Donald Trump Is the First White President – The Atlantic

Ta-Nehisi Coates_ Kanye West in the Age of Donald Trump – The Atlantic

W. E. B. Du Bois – The Souls of Black Folk- 3.4,5


BLS 1003

The Evolution and Expressions of Racism (Undergrads)

3.0 Hours; 3.0 Credits

Instructor: Amir Ahmadi Arian


Mo Tue Thurs 5:30-7:35


Course Description

A multidimensional course approaching racism from a historical, political, literary, and sociological point of view. The nature of prejudice will be discussed with regard to effects of racism on Black people in the United States.

In this course, we will focus on texts that bore historical significance and played a considerable role in shaping the discourse around race. In the academia we are sometimes so caught up in theories and conceptual analysis that we forget the wellspring of such studies, the set of texts that made this discipline possible. So, instead of reading about W.E.B Du Bois, Toni Morrison, Martin Luther King and others, in this course we will go straight to the source and read their own texts with care and diligence they deserve. In our classes we analyze various aspects of those texts and discuss what makes them speak to multiple generations of people of all stripes, and why they stand out in the literary and intellectual history of the West.



Learning Goals


If you successfully complete this course,

  • You will have a sophisticated knowledge of several canonical texts by African-American authors and intellectuals.
  • You can trace the evolution of the intellectual preoccupations of major African American figures back to mid-nineteenth century.
  • You will learn a great deal about textual and literary analysis. You will develop skills for reading between the lines, and learn about the art of interpretation.
  • You will learn how to understand and analyze a text against its historical background, and understand how a canonical text embodies its time.


Course Material


During this course, we will read the following essays and book excerpts:



Washington T. Booker, Up From Slavery

E.B.W Du Bois, Soul of Black Folk

Two Speeches by Martin Luther King

Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Cornel West, Race Matters

Toni Morrison, Sula

Two essays by Ta nehisi Coates


I have been able to find PDFs of these texts. I will distribute them via email.



Assignments, Examinations, and Grading


Memos 40% we will dedicate two classes to each author and read excerpts from their work. As you see above, there are 7 authors on the list. You need to write 7 memos in the course of the semester, one memo for every two classes.

A memo is basically a short essay, 300 – 500 words, comprised of three paragraphs: in the first paragraph you give a summary of the book excerpt in your own words and from your angle. The second paragraph should be dedicated to your own reflections. Write about what stood out to you, what you found questionable, why you think this or that chapter was outstanding or disappointing.

In the last paragraph you raise questions for further reflection. Talk about the inspiration you got from the reading, if it instigated a topic you’d like to research or brought up an issue you want to explore further.

I need to have the memo by the noon on the day we have our first class on every writer. For example, our first class is on June 9th about B.T. Washington, and the deadline for your first memo on him is 12:00 pm on June 9th. Your second memo on DuBois should get to me by noon on June 15th, and so on.

Final Essay 40% The final essay is required to be about 2000 words. You have three options:

·      An interview. For this project, you need to go out and find someone whose politics on race differs significantly from yours. They might be more conservative or more progressive, to your left or to your right, your family members or the guy at the deli. You need to conduct a 20 to 30 minute interview with that person, in which you raise difficult questions about their take on race and racism in America, challenge them (politely), share your own opinion and ask them to respond. When you are done with the interview, transcribe it, then attach a 500 word essay to it. In the essay you reflect on the interview experience, lay out what you have learned, what you would do differently if you were to redo the interview, anything you consider worthy of writing down.

·      An essay on James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. In the course of this semester you’ll deal with quite a few texts.You’ll read them closely and learn a great deal about textual analysis. For final paper, you have the option of applying that acquired knowledge and conceptual toolbox on Baldwin’s important novel.

·      Your third option is a research paper on Harriet Tubman. Go to the library website and elsewhere online and read as much as you can about her. Write an essay on her life, her accomplishments, her legacy, her place in the history of anti-slavery struggle.

Attendance and Participation 20% This is an asynchronic online class, but that doesn’t exempt you from participation. Here is how you do it.

Our classes are held at 5:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. For every class I post a video on Baruch Blogs around 5:30, a short lecture about the reading of the day. After that, the forum on Blogs at Baruch will be open for discussions until 12:00 pm the day after. I want you to watch the video, then write comments and observations in the forum, respond to my lecture, give your take on the text, anything. I will participate in the discussion too.





Academic Integrity

If you are not sure what actions constitute cheating, plagiarism, unfair advantage, or other forms of academic dishonesty, ask me and I’ll be glad to help you out. These practices are all against Baruch’s Academic Honesty policy ( to which I and my department adhere. Your enrollment in this class presumes your knowledge and acceptance of this policy, so you should read the policy and know what it involves.


Know that I have filed charges of plagiarism in the past, and after an investigation, those students were found guilty and punished.  I am required to report cheating and plagiarism, and I do. I also give no credit for plagiarized writings or exams on which you cheat. (In cases of dishonesty I will not give out an F for the course because I will not allow the opportunity for you to erase that experience from your record. You may earn a D or Z instead.) Furthermore, plagiarism and other kinds of copyright infringement can bring serious negative consequences outside of the Baruch community if the creator or publisher of the stolen work finds out about it.

Support Services

First, seek help from the Professor: If you find yourself having problems in class come and talk to me right away, no matter what the problem is!  To most problems faced by conscientious students, there is a reasonable solution. I believe there are no stupid questions, and nothing to be learned in this course is “easy.”

Disability Accommodations: If you have a physical, psychological, or learning disability, Baruch College provides services through the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (OSSD), part of the Division of Student Development and Counseling. For more information contact Barbara Sirois, the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities,1 Baruch Way (Newman Vertical Campus), Room 2-271 (within Suite 2-255), (646) 312-4590.

Writing: All undergraduates who entered as freshmen beginning September 2002 should have copies of Ann Raimes, Keys for Writers  (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002), the writing handbook adopted by the Department of English. There are also many centers on campus with staff willing to help you – for example, the Baruch College Writing Center (VC 8-185) offers workshops and online tutoring to help you improve your writing.




Class Schedule


Here is the breakdown of your readings through the semester:


06/08  Introduction, Syllabus review, a brief history of slavery

06/09   Up from Slavery, ch. 1-3 (first memo)

06/11   Up from Slavery, ch. 4-6

06/15   Soul of Black Folk, ch.  1-3 (second memo)

06/16    Soul of Black Folk, ch.  4-6

06/18    Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam (third memo)

06/22    Martin Luther King, The Other America

06/23    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Ch. 1-5 (fourth memo)

06/25    I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Ch. 6-10

06/27    Sula, part 1 (fifth memo)

06/29    Sula, part 2

06/30    Race matters, ch. 1-3 (sixth memo)

07/02    Race Matters, ch. 4-6

07/06    Ta nehisi Coates, I’m not Black, I’m Kanye (seventh memo)

07/07    Ta nehisi Coates, The First White President

07/09    wrapping up


Syllabus Review: