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  • Acculturation - The learning of the ideas, values, conventions, and behavior that characterize a social group. (See socialization.) Acculturation is also used to describe the results of contact between two or more different cultures; a new, composite culture emerges, in which some existing cultural features are combined, some are lost, and new features are generated. Usually one culture is dominant (as in the case of colonization). Source:
  • Affirmative Action -NCSL Affirmative action in the United States is a set of laws, policies, guidelines, and administrative practices "intended to end and correct the effects of a specific form of discrimination." These include government-mandated, government-sanctioned, and voluntary private programs that tend to focus on access to education and employment, specifically granting special consideration to historically excluded groups such as racial minorities or women. The impetus toward affirmative action is redressing the disadvantages associated with past and present discrimination. Further impetus is a desire to ensure public institutions, such as universities, hospitals, and police forces, are more representative of the populations they serve.
  • African American - I rarely use this term. Since as my student put it, "some people use the term "African American" synonymously with "black." In some cases, people may use this phrase because they think its politically correct. Because of this, some people may incorrectly label all black people as African American when in fact, they may be neither African nor American."
  • Agency - In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, "Structure" refers to those factors (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, customs, etc) which seem to limit or influence the opportunities that individuals have. Source: Cultural studies: theory and practice

    A term referring to the role of the human actor as individual or group in directing or effectively intervening in the course of history. Liberal Humanism sees the individual or subject as unified and self-determining. It therefore ascribes agency to this subject as a more or less unrestricted actor in shaping her/his own life and a more general social destiny. Marxism and other theories recognizing the influence of social and economic determinations beyond the individual offer a more qualified and complex view. "Men make their own history," Karl Marx famously declared, but "do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves". For Marx, the working class was denied agency and would only assume its role as actor in the world through the revolutionary transformation of economic and social relations inspired by class consciousness. Source:  A Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory

  • The American Dream -  is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes the promise of prosperity and success. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.[1] The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The main point is that this dream is based on meritocracy and that we all have an equal opportunity at social and economic mobility and success if we work hard enough.
  • Assimilation - The process by which a person or persons acquire the social and psychological characteristics of a group: "Waves of immigrants have been assimilated into the American culture." Source: There is a negative view of assimilation in Ethnic Studies since it is usually forced on subordinate groups by the dominant group. Subordinate groups see assimilation into American and white society as a means of survival or success at the expense of their native culture. The loss of the native language in order to speak English, the loss of traditional holidays to celebrate American holidays etc. Assimilation contrasts with acculturation where the subordinate group learns and incorporates the dominant culture, but still retains their original culture.


  • Bamboo Ceiling - In 2009, Jane Hyun coined the term, "Bamboo Ceiling" in her book, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling to describe  a combination of individual, cultural, and organizational factors that impede Asian Americans’ career progress inside organizations.
  • Banking Model of Education - From Paulo Frere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
  • Biological Racist Discourse – The idea that certain races were inferior at a biological level and consequently did not deserve the rights and privileges of the dominant group. This discourse of biological inferiority justified African Slavery for centuries and is still with us today. This discourse shifted to a Cultural Racist Discourse during the Civil Rights Movement.


  • The Cable Act of 1922 effectively revoked the U.S. citizenship of any woman who married an Asian alien. At the time of the law's ratification, Asian aliens were not considered to be eligible for U.S. citizenship based on their race. 
  • Canon - Any comprehensive list of books within a field. Source: Canon has been understood as a list of 'great books' although this clearly implies a process of judgment and discrimination... These hierarchies are also joined by other exclusions of Class, Gender, Race, and Ethnicity. The canon therefore emerges as the embodiment not simply of aesthetic values but of a selective humanist ideology whose representatives are white, male, and European. Source:  A Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory.
  • Code Switching - This is a context based change in the style or vernacular of speaking. At work we may speak more formally, at church we may speak very politely using no profanity, with our friends we may use more slang and profanity, with our grandparents we may speak our ancestral language, or we may use a combination of English and our ancestral language. Obama Key and Peele
  • Colonialism - is a structured relationship of domination and subordination, where the dominant and subordinate groups are defined along ethnic and/or racial lines, and where the relationship is established and maintained to serve the interests of all or part of the dominant group. - Mario Barrera

    The economic, political, and cultural domination of one cultural-ethnic group by another. - Gail Omvedt

    The pervasiveness and reach of european colonization is staggering. Read over a short history of colonization on Wikipedia to get an idea.

  • Colorblindness - The idea that we are blind to a person's race and consequently treat all people equally. The problem with this ideal is that since there is vast racial inequality, so called colorblindness will just perpetuate racial inequality by not recognizing and addressing any past or current oppression and inequality. Moreover, the first thing we notice about a person is their race and gender so colorblindness is not realistic.
  • Colorism - The idea that privilege is given to people who have lighter skin so those with darker skin within the same race and ethnicity will be discriminated against by not only people outside the group, but within the group as well. That lighter skin is thought of as more beautiful, that lighter skinned people are of higher class. Colorism can be an issue in the Black, Latino, Asian Indian, and Filipino families and communities. Spike Lee's School Daze explored Colorism.  

Straight Outta Compton Casting Call.
Colorism is also present in Hollywood casting decisions where black males are usually paired with a lighter skin black female or not a black female at all. Will Smith movies : Hitch, Hancock, I am Legend, I Robot. Eddie Murphy movies: Dr. Doolittle, Coming to America.

  • Context: The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.
  • Context of Reception - is defined as: The state policies towards the migrant group, the perception of the migrants by the dominant group, and the presence or absence of a group to receive the migrants determines the experience this group will have. We are racialized by the dominant group and inherit and are judged by any negative or positive racializations that the dominant group has of our racial group. Not just the dominant group, but other subordinate groups and our own group as well. When the first wave of Chinese immigrated, they were often equated with Blacks and Native Americans by law and in the American imaginary. Former ICS4 students explain their context of reception here in the US and in Europe.
  • Contextualize: To put in a context, esp. one that is characteristic or appropriate, as for purposes of study.
  • Cultural Racist Discourse - The idea that certain racial groups have a culture of poverty. An inferior and defective culture so if they are not socially, academically, or financially successful then it is due to their culture.
  • Demographics - From Wikipedia: Demographics or demographic data refers to selected population characteristics as used in government, marketing or opinion research, or the demographic profiles used in such research. Note the distinction from the term "demography" (see below.) Commonly-used demographics include race, age, income, disabilities, mobility (in terms of travel time to work or number of vehicles available), educational attainment, home ownership, employment status, and even location. Distributions of values within a demographic variable, and across households, are both of interest, as well as trends over time. Demographics are frequently used in economic and marketing research.


  • The term demographics as a noun is often used erroneously in place of demography, the study of human population, its structure and change.
  • Diaspora - A dispersion of a people from their original homeland and the community formed by such a people.
  • Dissonance - Lack of agreement, consistency, or harmony; conflict. Lack of consistency or compatibility between actions or beliefs.
  • Dual Domination theory - Racial exclusion or oppression and extraterritorial domination converge and interact in the Asian American community, establishing a permanent structure of dual domination and creating its own internal dynamics. The structure is therefore dynamic, constantly undergoing change, driving by the respective governments and specific politics and bilateral relations between the U.S. and the respective Asian country. This is why not even periodical changes in respective governments and specific policies can substantively alter their hegemonic roles in the Asian American community. The structure of domination is supported by two pillars: one is domestic and racial and the other is extraterritorial and racial as well. Ling-chi Wang


  • Epistemology a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature,methods, and limits of human knowledge.the theory of knowledge, esp the critical study of its validity,methods, and scope - The theory of knowledge. The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge.[1] It addresses the questions:
    • What is knowledge?
    • How is knowledge acquired?
    • What do people know?
    • How do we know what we know?

    Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims.

    In lectures and class discussion, I ask the question, How do I know I know what I know ? This helps us interrogate our sources of knowledge that we often don't ever question to see the built in human bias. The example I use in class is the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan. How would an American history professor in America position his lecture about this bombing? Justified to end the war. Saved American lives. Justified due to Pearl Harbor. We were attacked first. What about a history professor in Japan? A despicable human tragedy that killed over 200,000 innocent people and caused years of suffering. Who is right? Who has the correct version of history? The American history professor or the Japanese history professor? Neither? Both? It really isn't about who is right, since it depends on our epistemic position.  The point is that we are taught by our parents and professor's epistemic position and we need to be aware of that. Another example I use is to ask the class, "How many people died in the holocaust?" There are usually several answers, 6 million being the most common. But the point is, why do we learn one epistemic position? Why is it that one story is privileged over another? Are we taught in school how many Africans were enslaved here in the U.S.? How many Native Americans were genocided? How many Chinese were lynched or run out of town here in the U.S.? How many Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII losing their land, house, and other possessions? Is it due to how many people died or something else?

  • Epithet -  a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt, to express hostility, etc.
  • Essence - 1) The intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something. 2) The most important ingredient, the crucial element. 3) The inherent, unchanging nature of a thing or class of things.
  • Essentialism - A term describing the assumption that human beings, objects or texts possess underlying essences which define their 'true nature'. An 'essence' is fixed and unchanging, but has a double existence: as both the inherent or innate property of an individual object or being, and the abstract, external essence governing the type to which all examples conform...
  • Essentialist versus social constructionist arguments have characterized debates in feminism and discussions of gender and sexuality. Feminists have appealed to an essential 'female' nature or experience in the analysis of literary and cultural texts, in arguments about pornography and violence against women.
  • However, if essentialist arguments are thought to have little credibility in current academic life, they have a strong and vocal presence outside it: in popular notions of what is natural in boys and girls as well as men and women, in stereotypes of ethnic and racial types.
    The mid-1990's has also seen the use of uncompromisingly essentialist arguments in popular and public discourse - to categorize gay and lesbian sexuality as being 'unnatural'. -Peter Brooker (Not on ICS 4 final)
  • Ethics - a system of moral principles:(singular or plural verb) the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc. (plural verb) :
    Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior". The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology. -Wikipedia De Anza has Ethics classes in the Philosophy and Accounting departments. Phil 08: Ethics, and Acct 74 Accounting Ethics Note: This has nothing to do with Ethnic Studies though students often confuse the two.
  • Ethnicity - A concept often coupled and sometimes confused with the term race but which ought to be distinguished from it. While race is, in a basic definition, marked by phenotypical difference which are physical and visible like hair type and skin color, ethnicity describes different social and cultural identities which may or may not be accompanied by such physical differences.

    Ethnicity is therefore a broader and more flexible cultural description than the biologically based or inflected categorization by race. Chiefly, ethnic identity implies a sense of belonging, founded on an attachment to an actual or possible homeland, its cultural heritage, belief system, political history, language, characteristic myths, customs, manners, food, sports, literature, art or architectural style.
    Source:  A Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory

    The racial groups we discuss in class are Asian, Black, Latino, Native American, and White.Ethnic groups within these races would include but are not limited to Asian: Cambodian, Chinese, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. Black: Ethiopian, Cameroonian, Jamaican, Haitian, etc. Native American: Apache, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Comanche, Iroquois, Navajo, etc. White: Dutch, English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Polish, etc.
    Though in class we include Latinos as a racial group, they really aren't according the definition in the census. A Latino or Hispanic may be of any race.Hispanics or Latinos are those people who classified themselves in one of the specific Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino categories listed on the Census 2000 questionnaire -"Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano," "Puerto Rican", or "Cuban"-as well as those who indicate that they are "other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino." Persons who indicated that they are "other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino" include those whose origins are from Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America, the Dominican Republic or people identifying themselves generally as Spanish, Spanish-American, Hispanic, Hispano, Latino, and so on.Origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States.
    People who identify their origin as Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino may be of any race. Thus, the percent Hispanic should not be added to percentages for racial categories. Non Hispanic White persons are those who responded "No, not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino" and who reported "White" as their only entry in the race question. More complete tallies that show race categories for Hispanics and non-Hispanics separately are also available.

  • Ethnic Identity Model
  • Ethnic Studies - 1) An interdisciplinary voice for the continuing focused study of race and ethnicity. 2) The interdisciplinary and comparative study of racial and ethnic groups and their interrelations with an emphasis on groups that have historically been neglected.
  • Ethnocentrism - In general terms, this refers to the ways in which language, beliefs, or customs of a particular ethnic group group are reinforced, defended or promoted, whether in intellectual work, a political or military campaign, or a cultural or educational program. Source:  A Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory.
  • Eurocentrism - A term describing the way a particular cultural model, 'centered' upon European intellectual traditions and social-political systems, has been generalized so as to apply to the world at large. The bias in this geocultural and largely, white, male perspective upon human history and world affairs has been especially exposed in postcolonial studies. Source:  A Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory. Centered or focused on Europe or European peoples, especially in relation to historical or cultural influence. the practice of viewing the world from a European perspective and with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the preeminence of European culture. The term Eurocentrism was coined during the period of decolonization in the late 20th century.


  • Generation - The adults who migrate to America are known as first generation immigrants, their kids born in the US are the second generation, and their grandchildren are the third generation. There are also 1.5 generation immigrants. These are immigrants who come here as young children. So not adults, but not born in the US either. They are in-between the 1st and 2nd generation and generally have better language skills and can navigate both communities better than the 1st or 2nd generation.
  • Genotype - The genetic makeup of an individual.
  • Glass Ceiling - From The Dept of Labor, "Artificial barriers based on attitudinal or organizational bias that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management and executive positions."
    Deborah Woo's book, Glass Ceilings and Asian Americans"A major thesis of this book is that the majority of glass ceiling barriers involve subtle bases, sometimes imperceptible or ineffable, quietly or unconsciously reproduced. Some are are embedded into the routines and practices of institutions, others reflected in attitudinal orientations, which over time chisel racially contoured outcomes into the workplace experience, even when there is no discriminatory intent." 

    In 2009, Jane Hyun coined the term, "Bamboo Ceiling" in her book, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling to describe  a combination of individual, cultural, and organizational factors that impede Asian Americans’ career progress inside organizations.


  • Hegemony - The conditions necessary in a given society for the achievement and consolidation of rule. In order to consolidate their hegemony, ruling groups must elaborate and maintain a popular system of ideas and practices through education, the media, religion, folk wisdom, which Antonio Gramsci called common sense. It is through its production and adherence to this common sense ideology that a society gives its consent to the way in which it is ruled.

    -Michael Omi

    A Greek term meaning rule or leadership whose influence in cultural theory is derived from its use in the writings of Italian communist activist and philosopher Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) to describe the operation of ideology in modern capitalist societies.The way a ruling class maintains itself in power, or secures and sustains its hegemony. It does this not simply through a direct expression of its economic authority, but by actively exercising its intellectual, moral and ideological influence in the realm of civil society.For a ruling class to maintain its hegemonic position, the institutions, hierarchies, ideas and allied social practices which serve its fundamental economic interests must be accepted spontaneously as the natural order of things. Hegemony therefore seeks to articulate and renew the prevailing common sense mentality in society as a whole.

    Hegemony: A mastery over society by a dominant class, alliance of classes or ruling bloc, including its primary economic processes, ways of life, mores and even its very form and level of culture and civilization (p. 85). Key to resurgent ideological perspectives in communication theory has been, according to Stuart Hall, the perspective that hegemony isn't secured by compulsion but by cultural leadership, a leadership that determines a level of consent of those classes subordinated by the hegemony. This concept of leadership is credited to Gramsci, who with it made the point that hegemony is accomplished and not compelled (p. 85).

    -Brian Carroll

    Hegemony - Gramsci's term for a ruling ideology; ruling ideology is not imposed but rather seems to exist by virtue of an unquestioned consensus that often considers opposition to the status quo as deviant. The media do not define reality, but offer preferential treatment to the opinions of those in authority.

    -Pam Laucella

    "Hegemony" has been conceptualized in several ways over the last century, and thus has accumulated several possible meanings. The term was used in the writings of Karl Marx, and therefore can be dated to as early as the mid-nineteenth century. By some accounts, the term hegemony (gegemoniya) was later used as part of one of the slogans of the Russian Social-Democratic movement from 1890 to 1917. Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Communist Party central committee member in the 1920s, is credited with developing the concept of hegemony from the work of Marx and Lenin, and adding his own understandings of ideological structures in society. Virtually all his writing on hegemony come from thirty-three notebooks written during eleven years of imprisonment under Mussolini. Gramsci introduced to Marx's argument that the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas of society, the notion that the ruling class act as ideological leaders which members of the working class (for the most part) willingly follow. Hegemony for Gramsci also involved the application of certain means by which the ruling class seeks to develop social consent.

    Later theorists focused on the importance of these means, which Lou is Althusser called the ideological state apparatus. Incorporated into the apparatus are media companies and their messages which serve to disseminate the dominant ideology to a relatively passive populous. This conceptualization of hegemony is more powerful, leaving little room for alternative readings and resistance against dominant significations.

    Recent uses of hegemony are more tempered: it is the control of certain ideological apparatuses within a society by a dominant group. Hall's example from the reading is that of American mass communication researchers in the early and mid twentieth century. Here, this dominant group utilized conferences, journals, funding resources and other 'ideological apparatuses' to control and frame the possible opinions and knowledge sources available for society's understandings of how mass communication works.

    -Jonathan Lillie

    It is possible to establish rule over a people through coercion, but it is inefficient if not impossible to maintain without hegemony, without the subordinated group giving their consent to being ruled.

    A person born into slavery will give his consent to pick cotton since that is all he has ever known. He believes his location in life is to serve the white slave master. It is just common sense, "I am black, I am a slave, I go pick cotton and do whatever the master tells me." He may hate his location in life, but he gives his consent. Hegemony is how this slave is controlled. He believes this is his place in life. This doesn't mean there weren't slave uprisings and revolts, there were. But slave owners wouldn't have slaves as a labor supply if it wasn't efficient and cost effective for them

    Ask a fish about water and what will he tell you? It is all he has ever known. Hegemonic forces are around us in every aspect of our lives: TV, movies, web pages, music, magazines, newspapers, schools, books, church, religion, video games, comics, everywhere.

    -Ethan Lee

    Useful links regarding hegemony and Gramsci:

    Immigrant - A person who voluntarily migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence and to better their standard of living.

  • Immigrant Analogy - The idea that America is a nation of immigrants who all have an equal opportunity at social and economic mobility. Blacks, Native Americans, Vietnamese refugees all subvert this analogy since they are not immigrants. Moreover, this analogy homogenizes the immigrant experience as equitable and just when the history of the U.S. is a history of racial oppression, dictatorship, and inequity. The three main points about this analogy are 1) it is inaccurate since it excludes the groups mentioned above. 2) More importantly, it creates the idea that Americans are all equal, we all started out with nothing and all had an equal opportunity for socioeconomic, political, and cultural mobility. This ignores both passed and current racial oppression and inequality. 3) It defines who is American since this analogy applies to European immigrants, and excludes non-European immigrants.

    This analogy has several sources including two popular and influential books: The Uprooted by Oscar Handlin, and A Nation of Immigrants by John F. Kennedy.

  • Intergenerational conflict - Think Ben Mercado and his dad. What is the root of their conflict? 
  • Intergenerational transmission of wealth - The transferring of wealth through the generations. Wealth includes tangible assets such as money, property, cars, houses, businesses and intangible assets such as education, networks, expectations, etc. This wealth is passed down through the generations ultimately shaping opportunity for future generations.

  • Internal Colonialism - is a theory of Racial Inequality. Specifically, Internal Colonialism is a form of colonialism where the dominant and subordinate populations are intermingled, so that there is no geographically distinct metropolis separate from the colony. - Mario Barrera Internal Colonialism corresponds to a structure of social relations based on domination and exploitation among culturally heterogeneous, distinct groups - Gonzalez Casanova

  • Internalized racism - This is racism directed at one's own race and can be very problematic. Reality shows have good examples of internalized racism, internalized oppression, and self-hate including: Last Comic Standing 2008 and America's Next Top Model Gina Choe.
  • Intersectionality - is a way of understanding and analyzing the complexity in the world, in people, and in human experiences. The events and conditions of social and political life and the self can seldom be understood as shaped by one factor. They are generally shaped by many factors in diverse and mutually influencing ways. When it comes to social inequality, peoples's lives and the organization of power in a given society are better understood as being shipped not by a single axis of social division, be it race or gender or class, but by many axes that work together and influence each other. Intersectionality as an analytic tool gives people better access to the complexity of the world and of themselves...(p-2) Intersectionality's core insight that major axes of social division in a given society at a given time, for example, race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, and age operate not as discrete and mutually exclusive entities, but build on each other and work together. - Intersectionality, pg-2, Patricia Hill Collins & Sirma Bilge.
  • ism - a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement.


  • Marronage - The concept of "marronage" refers to groups of fugitives from slavery ("maroons"). Often escaping within the first generation of their arrival from Africa in the West Indies and the Americas, they banded together and formed their own independent societies that survived for centuries. Source:Bates

    A Maroon is a runaway slave, or, nowadays, one born from runaway stock. Marronage refers to the varying states involved in flight and survival. The name comes from the Spanish cimarron and was originally used of the cattle which escaped into the hills of the island of Hispaniola. Later the meaning transferred to slaves who escaped into the interior of Hispaniola. The first of these runaways was recorded in 1502, when an African-American slave escaped successfully. The vicious system of slavery, based on coercion, saved its fiercest punishments for runaway slaves; these punishments, encapsulated in law, included castration and roasting alive. Such treatment varied from country to country. Slaves were not docile, defeated and resigned to a state of submissive obedience. They could co-operate, assimilating those features which they found profitable, or they could reject slavery; the Maroons belonged to this latter tradition of evasion or escape. Source:blackwellreference

  • Master Narrative of American History - This is what Prof. Takaki referred to when speaking about how American History is told from a eurocentric viewpoint. How important facts, stories, people, battles, places, culture are all centric around white people. Where their view, opinions, suffering, labor, triumphs, and tribulations are privileged in not only the historical record, but in the American Imaginary itself. This narrative defines "American" as white and this just becomes common sense. This narrative either excludes all people of color, constructs them as the enemy, as foreigners, as aliens ineligible for citizenship, or not "real" Americans, just American citizens at best.

    US History. But who's version? Is there just one version?

    The Uprooted - The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People by Oscar Handlin. First published in 1951, 1973, and 2002. 

    THE TEXT STANDS AS WRITTEN (xi) Even in 2002, the preface to the second edition shows some common email technique to hear some text loud and clear. A response to critics. Handlin goes on to say, "It made no effort to distinguish among the various groups involved in the migration, but focused on the common human elements evident in them all." 

    The title is misleading. The Epic Story of the Great European Migrations That Made White Americans. This would be more accurate and reflective of the content of the book. 1951 was a very different historical moment in US history. This is pre Brown v. Board of Education. Pre Civil Rights Movement. Still, we see how hegemony works by reading this book. American was constructed from European immigrants and America by European immigrants. No other groups are important enough to be mentioned except peripherally.

  • Meritocracy – a system that rewards an individual based on their own talent and ability.
  • Microaggression -  “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group” (Sue, Capodilupo, et al., 2007, p. 273).
  • Migrate - to go from one country, region, or place to another.
  • Model Minority Myth- The successful minority in terms of high education, income, family stability and low crime rate that sets an example that other minorities should follow. Generally applies to Asian Americans but is problematic and a myth for several reasons. It is used as a tool of oppression for other BIPOC. It seeks to erase past racial oppression of BIPOC by valorizing Asian Americans that meet this standard, "if they can do it, why can't you?" concurrently never acknowledging any current racial inequality produced by past racial oppression. Is used as a tool to dismantle Affirmative Action programs. Homogenizes Asian Americans into a monolithic homogenous group. This ignores the Asian Americans that struggle with academics, poverty, English language skills. Removes or reduces individual achievement and hard work since AsAm are seen as a monolith of success. Generation is also ignored conflating recent immigrants or refugees coming here with no English language or education with 3rd or 4th generation acculturated Asian Americans with extensive community. The Glass Ceiling that Asian Americans encounter is also disregarded while valorizing their success.  See the Model Minority page for more info.


  • One Drop Rule - a single drop of "black blood" makes a person a black. Further info from PBS.
  • Oppression - is the prolonged, unjust treatment or control of people by others. Social oppression is the socially supported mistreatment and exploitation of a group of individuals.[5] Social oppression is based on power dynamics and an individual's social location in society. Social location, as defined by Lynn Weber, is "an individual's or a group's social 'place' in the race, class, gender and sexuality hierarchies, as well as in other critical social hierarchies such as age, ethnicity, and nation."[6][page needed] An individual's social location determines how one will be perceived by others in the whole of society. It maintains three faces of power: the power to design or manipulate the rules, to win the game through force or competition, and the ability to write history.[7]

    To delve into the first social hierarchy, “racial oppression is burdening a specific race with unjust or cruel restraints or impositions. Racial oppression may be social, systematic, institutionalized, or internalized. Social forms of racial oppression include exploitation and mistreatment that is socially supported.


  • Palpable - 1. Capable of being handled, touched, or felt; tangible: "Anger rushed out in a palpable wave through his arms and legs" (Herman Wouk). 2. Easily perceived; obvious: "There was a palpable sense of expectation in the court" (Nelson DeMille). See Synonyms at perceptible. Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
  • Phenotype is the appearance of an organism resulting from the interaction of the genotype and the environment.
  • Prejudice - a preconceived judgment or opinion, usually based on limited information. Page 5 Cafeteria book.
  • Power - The ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
  • Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they've done or failed to do. -Peggy McIntosh We most often discuss white privilege, male privilege, and heterosexual privilege in this class.
  • Problematic - Posing a problem; difficult to solve, Open to doubt; debatable, Not settled; unresolved or dubious


  • Race - A social classification and grouping of people based on how they look. This classification has significant social, economic, legal, and political meaning. Being placed into a racial group will impact a person's entire life experience, their rights and experiences with immigration, imprisonment, detainment by law enforcement, health, enslavement or freedom, internment or liberty, exclusion or inclusion, deportation or welcoming, alien ineligible for citizenship or naturalized citizen, access to education, healthcare, job opportunities, housing, social events, and ultimately who lives and who dies in America. These racial classifications are not voluntary, biological, innate, inherent, or genetic. These classifications are socially constructed meaning that people constructed our idea of race and racial meaning. 
    Race is a concept that signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies. -Omi/Winant See this page on race for a more thorough discussion.
  • Racelessness - individuals will assimilate into the dominant group by de-emphasizing characteristics that might identify them as members of the subordinate group1
  • Race Bending - refers to situations where a media content creator (movie studio, publisher, etc.) has changed the race or ethnicity of a character. This is a longstanding Hollywood practice that has been historically used to discriminate against people of color with a resultant discriminatory impact on an underrepresented cultural community and actors from that community (reinforcement of glass ceilings, loss of opportunity, lost of income, etc.)
  • Racial Formation is a sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed.
  • Racial Projects are simultaneously an interpretation, representation, or explanation of racial dynamics and an effort to reorganize and redistribute resources (economic, political, cultural) along particular racial lines. A racist racial project is one that creates or perpetuates racial domination.
  • Racial Profiling is any police or private security practice in which a person is treated as a suspect because of his or her race, ethnicity, nationality or religion. This occurs when police investigate, stop, frisk, search or use force against a person based on such characteristics instead of evidence of a person's criminal behavior. It often involves the stopping and searching of people of color for traffic violations, known as "DWB" or "driving while black or brown." Although normally associated with African Americans and Latinos, racial profiling and "DWB" have also become shorthand phrases for police stops of Asians, Native Americans, and, increasingly after 9/11, Arabs, Muslims and South Asians.

    Racial profiling can also involve pedestrian stops, "gang" databases, bicycle stops, use of police attack dogs, suspicion at stores and malls, immigration worksite raids, and in the 2000 presidential election in Florida, harassment on the way to polls, "voting while black or brown". Customs and other airport officials also engage in racial profiling of passengers. Read more about different kinds of racial profiling.

  • Racial Trajectory is a particular racial groups life trajectory based on their Racial Formation.
  • Racial Triangulation - In order to move the conceptualization of racial dynamics beyond Black and White, Racial Triangulation proposes a field of racial positions. Asian Americans have been specifically racially triangulated in between Whites and Blacks.

    Whites maintain this racial triangulation to maintain their supremacy and privilege. They valorize Asians in order to demonize Blacks without doing so explicitly. This relieves them of addressing or even acknowledging any structural or institutional discrimination affecting Blacks or Asians. They frame Affirmative Action as Asian victims and Black villains, Korean and Black race relations as a good minority versus the bad minority - the hardworking educated immigrant versus the lazy, uneducated criminal. This racial triangulation protects Whites from any encroachment by Blacks and Asians today and throughout history. This theory was developed by Professor Claire Kim. I have modified it slightly. My changes include changing "Insider" to "American" and removing the civic ostracism line.
    Racial Triangulation Image

  • Racism - The common definition of racism we came up with in class is "hating on a particular racial group." A good definition from a student was "Treating people differently in a negative manner because of their race" - Silvia Lu. I don't define here until after the Racism definition exercise due date has passed. Here is the definition.
  • Refugee - a person who flees for refuge or safety, esp. to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc.


  • Satire -  See this page on Satire.
  • Self-Segregation - Voluntarily segregating oneself to a particular racial group.
  • Smiley Face Racism -  Since racism is usually associated with hate or institutions, this type of racism is not always easy to understand. We are often not aware this type of racism is even happening. When inquiring about a job opening and being told, "I'm sorry, all the openings have been filled." Or when inquiring about housing and being told with a smiling face that, "The apartment was just rented this morning. I'm sorry." When you were told on the phone the job or apt was still available. The underlying reason is racial discrimination, but not a Michael Richards type of racism since the people are polite and even smiling when they tell you this. True Colors, a Dateline television program is good way to understand this type of racism.
  • Social Structure - The Sociology Guide and Wikipedia definition: In the social sciences, social structure is the patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of individuals.[1] Likewise, society is believed to be grouped into structurally related groups or sets of roles, with different functions, meanings, or purposes. Examples of social structure include family, religion, law, economy, and class.
  • Sojourner - A person who resides temporarily in a place. The points from Strangers p:10-13 is that Asians were widely viewed as sojourners and Europeans as settlers when in fact most were sojourners initially. The sojourner myth was largely due to oppressive laws that excluded Asians based on race and ethnicity and socially oppressed Asians in America. Where Europeans could assimilate into American-ness and whiteness by changing their last name, Asians could not transform themselves so easily.
  • Stereotype - A racial stereotype is a preconceived idea about a racial group often based on incomplete, limited, or inaccurate information about that group. Stereotypes undermine individuality, meritocracy, and are something that all people experience. They are generalizations of an entire racial group based on racial projects, a personal experience, or the media.
  • Subaltern - "The Italian Marxist Antonoio Gramsci spoke of 'subaltern classes' to designate the politically uncoordinated popular mass." In general, this term is used to refer to oppressed people, the ones without a unified, true, and unmediated voice.  A subordinated group of people. -  Source:  A Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory
  • Subvert - to undermine the principles of.


  • Watershed - an important period or factor that serves as a dividing line, a turning point -
  • White Privilege - See White Privilege
  • White supremacy - This term is commonly associated linked to one of the over 900 racist hate organizations operating in the US. However, there is a much larger and more pervasive and damaging slice to the white supremacy pie. It’s how whiteness becomes the norm, common sense, culturally hegemonic, synonymous with American so American = white, non white = non American, foreigner. This imaginary has far reaching consequence since now non white = foreigner, regardless of nativity or years in the US. So, white supremacy is:
    • Terrorist attacks perpetrated by a white person have no real consequences for white people that weren’t anywhere near the event, yet people of color become associated with these terrorist acts as if they were not only complicit, but most likely helped the terrorists when the connection is logically absurd. 
    • Language. Both English and Spanish are the dominant languages of North America, where the indigenous languages have been colonized to the point of near extinction. Traveling through the US, Canada, or Mexico, did you hear anyone speaking a language indigenous to the area? Yet Americans often judge people quite harshly if they don’t speak these European colonizing languages looking down on them as if they are not as educated or as smart as those who do.
    • White supremacy is when a family or community member view marrying into whiteness as a step up, but marrying into a non-white race other than their own is viewed with amazement, condemnation, disbelief, and a definite step down.
    • White supremacy is when people valorize marrying into whiteness since the mixed babies will be, “so cute” not realizing that they are concurrently stating people of their own race are not as physically attractive as white people and somehow we have inferior genes.
    • White supremacy is when people don’t want to move into a neighborhood dominated by a racial group, that group to avoid though isn’t white.
    • is when we hear, “there are too many” of some particular racial group, but that racial group is never white. Whether it be Asians at prestigious universities or blacks in basketball, we never hear, “there are too many whites”
    • is when we never hear, “there are to many whites” but instead, “it lacks diversity” never mentioning the racial discriminatory laws and social policies that created that whites only demographic
    • is when we go the movies or theater, play video games, read a magazine, watch TV and the characters and stories revolve around white people. Even when the story takes place in Asia, the main character will be white, or when the source material the character was not white, the actor who plays that character will be.
    • This is white supremacy. Things we may run into daily, though how many of us have seen a cross burning on someone’s property? A lynching? A rally by one of the hate groups listed here?
    • (fill out more…) 



Yellowface - See Yellowface


  • Zipper Head - From the urbandictionary: Used during the Vietnam War, Charlie was coined zipperheads because of the way a head looked after it had been hit with a high powered automatic weapon. The the typical rising machine gun would cause a face wound that looked like an open zipper on the face of some one from the viet kong.

    That gook looks like a Zipper Head because of the machine gun fire.

    Hey Zipper Head, learn how to drive.

    Word commonly used in the Vietnam war to describe a person whos eyes look Asian, or slanted. As in you could zip their face up. Also see gook which is another term to describe Asians.

    This term was used throughout Gran Torino by the main character Walt.

    A good source for definitions is A Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory 

    1) Fordham, “Racelessness as a factor in Black students’ school success.” See also S. Fordham, Blacked out: Dilemmas of race, identity, and success at Capital High (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). Tatum, Beverly. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: Revised Edition (p. 249). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Version 7.1.22 Social Structure 1.13.21 Ethics vs Ethnic Studies 11/19/19 Hollywood whitewashing 9/25/17 oppression 8/5/17 racelessness 7/22/17 white supremacy 3/21/17 intersectionality and page on race. 10/14/16 Affirmative Action 6/1/16 Race Bending, 11/17/15 microaggression, 1/28/15 colorism, 7/23/14 Glass Ceiling, Bamboo Ceiling, Model Minority, 7/23/12 dual domination theory, 5/15/12 code switching.

Copyright © Ethan Lee • All Rights Reserved

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