Week of March 23: Class, Race, and Power [UPDATED]

Important announcements!


  • If you were able to complete it, please send it via email. (See the contact info on the right.)
  • For those unable to complete it because your assigned fieldwork spot is closed–hang on. There will be an alternate assignment instead
  • See the revised schedule on the syllabus page


  • CUNY just announced (March 24) a “Recalibration Period” for technology access and course design. Here’s what they say: “beginning this Friday, March 27. It will last through Wednesday, April 1. Programs and courses that were being taught online before March 12 will proceed, but for everyone else, distance learning will resume next Thursday, April 2.” AND “CUNY’s Spring Recess will now run from Wednesday, April 8, through Friday, April 10.”
  • That means no class for us next week, but we’ll no have class the week of April 14 instead


  • Lehman has a loaner program for computers/tablets if you don’t have a reliable one. Fill this form (link) out immediately to get on the list!

This week’s  presentation:

Student Presentation by Fatou, Leah, Alesha, and Irie

PDF download:

This week’s audio lecture:

It’s approximately 22 minutes long. Play it in your browser by pressing the arrow below. Try it in a different browser or on a laptop/desktop computer if it doesn’t play–especially on mobile devices–and please report any problems to me.

Comments on posts:

You’ll notice the “Leave a Comment” button is now active below. Here’s how it’ll work: you can use these to discuss points raised here.  A few points:

  • Your first comment will have to be approved by me: after that, you can comment without approval
  • Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
  • You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
  • Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates

To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either Wilson’s chapter, the presentation, or my lecture using some of the questions raised. conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have until next Wednesday to write those two comments for credit.


14 thoughts on “Week of March 23: Class, Race, and Power [UPDATED]

  1. Fatoumata Tunkara

    Hello Professor and Classmates,

    I think this was a very interesting chapter because Wilson brought up many good points in regards to social identity and the White elite power structure in the United States. One point that was mentioned in the text and in the lecture is when Wilson describes the African American population as a “diffuse tribal grouping”. This ties into his ideas that the Black population in America does not really have a strong sense of group cultural identity. I bring up this point because its one I agree with. I think that the white population in America show a very strong sense of group identity regardless of their different ethnic groups. This has allowed them to control all the power socially, politically and economically. But Wilson also goes on to state that the dominance of whites is what causes the lack of self identity and self awareness in the African American population. Other factors that contribute to the lack of group identity is the fact that African Americans are dependent economically on the white power structure.Many of the problems Wilson stated are very much so true in today’s Black community and in order for them to get power they must create a high level of group and class consciousness.

    1. Aprika T

      I like how you mentioned that the Afrikan American community is economically dependent upon the white power structure, in my response I spoke about something similar how even today Afrikan Americans even rather buying and supporting white owned businesses rather than support Afrikan American owned businesses. It even goes down to small businesses the smallest amount of finical support given back to the Afrikan American community from its own people will help out the community as a whole

      1. Nevia Cridlan

        Hi Aprika do you think that there will come a time when Afrikan Americans will start to support their own people business more whether big or small?

  2. Alesha Young

    Out all the chapters that we have read on Wilson, I would have to say that chapter 7 is my favorite chapter. The points on social class and its effects on Black people were dead on. Wilson touches on a couple points such as racial communities. Our communities are not resourceful or beneficial for us moving in a positive direction versus white communities. Wilson also touches on the power of the white power structure and its effects on the government. “The melting pot, all the pieces are not melted.” A great example that was used to support this, Obama needing to give up his birth certificate to prove that he is a U.S. citizen. People like Trump that are not even running of public office weighed in on this topic. No one ever stop to say that Hawaii is a U.S. State? I believe in Wilson when he says limited power. Meaning that even when Black people reach a “high power” outside of their “social class”, wealthy whites still have power over the government.

  3. Nevia Cridlan

    Good morning everyone,
    I believe that chapter seven was interesting and very informative because Amos Wilson gave us a good explanation about class, race and power in American. Having conflicts in these areas in our life is something that we faces on a daily basis. It is up to us has an individual to use these conflicts and turn them into something positive using the resources and the tools to make our lives better that will give us a brighter future. How long will the black population be inferior to the white population? The black population need to start having their own control economically, socially and politically. For the African American to overcome and get the power they have to change their way of thinking, come together in unity and fight for what belongs to them. All men are equal.

    1. Emma R

      I agree with you as well that chapter 7 has brought so much light to the ideology of class race and power in America. It is a lot of racism in America, but yet it is known as the land of the free, yet NOTHING is free. We are all living for a price.

  4. Leah Haviland

    Hi everyone. Hope you are all staying safe.
    I found this chapter to be especially interesting because I was able to relate it to my observations of people in the community I was raised in. I grew up in Westchester County in a town with a very densely rich, white population. Around middle school and early high school, many of the wealthiest families sent their children off to private or boarding schools. A great majority of these peers then went off to the most elite private institutions, many of them following their parents and attending Ivy league schools as they had. After graduation, many of them were immediately working white collar jobs, often found through family connections, and living in the most expensive neighborhoods in NYC.
    The reality is that the white corporate elite class’s main goal is to maintain their power through social and economic means. In this week’s powerpoint I contributed the quote, “The founders of [American boarding schools] recognized that unless their sons and grandsons were willing to take up the struggle for the preservation of their class interests, privilege would slip from the hands of the elite and eventually power would pass to either a competing elite or to a rising underclass” (Wilson, 148). Here, Wilson is emphasizing the white elite’s intentions for the preservation of the white ruling-elite intergenerationally. This conditioning is seen in elite schools and begins as early as early childhood.

    1. Nevia Cridlan

      Hi Leah I am happy that you were able to relate to this chapter in a positive way. This is no surprise to you seeing this same thing happening now like when you were going up has a child.
      Do you think that life will always be this way?

  5. Aprika T

    When discussing Wilson’s work on page 144, I was immediately able to connect it to what is still to this day going on in this world. One quote which stood out to me most was when Wilson stated “Its relatively low-level of intragroup cooperatives, mutual support and self-sufficiency ….and stunts its enormous economic-political potential,” he is trying to get the Afrikan Americans to understand that although they are not aren’t given the same types of opportunities white people are given they should still strive for greatness as much as they possibly can. Now more than ever throughout the Afrikan American community many people are starting different types of businesses both small and big, and it is our duty to support our own people because that is the only way as a whole we will begin to reap the benefits and financial status of our oppressors. From this little excerpt one can tell that Wilson is trying to get the Afrikan American people to see that us not supporting our own people is hurting us as a whole, what black owned organizations and businesses need most is the support of their own people and in today’s world with social media being a huge influence it is much easier. Supporting people does not only include spending money to help a person’s brand it can also mean advertising it to other people or simply getting the word out to others so they can actually know it exists. We are stunting our own growth but not cooperating with one another and simply being there and aware of our people.

  6. Janette Daley

    Hello, Janette here. Hope you all are staying safe.
    Yes, I agree with Aprika, I continue to see African American keep supporting white own business rather than supporting their own. This is very sad because the Latinos , the Asians and the Indians all support each other in business and in employment. African American need to adapt and follow these other culture. This is one of the reason why A. A. is still struggling.

  7. Emma R

    I agree with all the points that have been stated in this discussion. I honestly believe that whites have a better status in society because we as an Africa American community support a lot of white own business, they make us work for the dollar, then we go and spent what we have on their business. If blacks supported each other more, I believe that we would have a better economic outcome. Not only do we support business, but we are also eager to get into the schools they are in or teaching in because we believe that white schools are “BETTER” if the state-funded public schools they way they do for private schools we would the same equal education. It’s an insult to many teachers because they all go to school to study and take the same teacher exams, to then feel as if your degree is not valid enough. Wilson brings up great points as well for Obama how he was the only POTUS to be asked to see his birth certificate, to see how white or how black he was.

    1. Bereket Mengistu

      I’m so glad you made so much emphasis on the business aspect of the opression.Like Wilson, I also believe in self-determination in all aspects including our economic fate. But the way the economic system is set up in this country is sadly one very hard to uncage from. It’s setup in a way, as you said it, to benefit white people. It’s almost like they put a food chain within our country and put their own people on top of it. And that makes it hard for Black owned business to rise.

  8. Jose Tejada

    Chapter 7 is without a doubt one of my favorite chapters. It touches on the topic of social class. A section of American life that has primarily affected Black people. Something Wilson touches on that I find interesting is the influence white power structure can have on the government and thus the chances of a community moving forward. This also ties to special interests in politics. Because, as the statistics show, black people are more likely to not get a business or personal loan from a bank. Black people are subject to discrimination and have to push to be in a better situation, under the scrutiny of the American political system. A system that even if you reach a high social status, you still fall under the same scrutiny to some extent. Barack Obama demonstrating his birth certificate because Donald Trump, a white rich man, kept saying that the President of the United States, a black man, wasn’t an American citizen. This clearly shows how the white power structure can influence politics and society. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has never shown his tax returns or school records.

  9. Bereket Mengistu

    On this chapter Wilson assured me that in the United States, it might never be a distinct division by race and class. It has been made clear in the administration and distribution of resources how race always had been a deciding factor. Race became a class thing and now the lines started to blur.
    I was glad to see the presentation on this chapter highlighted the economic hegemony in America. How your household income determines your value as a human. How white people count and matter more in every aspect of life because of a higher household income.

    The only thing I wish was that Wilson had lived till these days where Asian families have the highest household income now. I wonder what he’d have to say about that. He’d probably take us back to the same argument for the disproportion-slavery. I hate it so much when people say look at the Asians making more money than whites, if they can then what’s stopping the Black? Asians weren’t enslaved, beaten, dehumanized, lynched, lived under Jim Crowe and segregation and a continues systematic oppressions. (sorry went a little off-topic.)


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