SOCY 1021 United States Race and Ethnic Relations I

Instructor Contact:

Bertha Alicia Bermúdez Tapia, PHD Candidate


About the Course:

This course represents a basic introduction to the study of race and ethnic relations in the United States. In this course, we will begin with a general overview of the concepts of race and ethnicity and will address the major sociological theories on race, ethnicity, and assimilation. We will devote time to understanding how race and ethnicity are socially constructed in various contexts. When looking at different groups’ experiences, we will explore various sociological explanations to help us understand how and why various groups fare differently in society. We will pay particular attention to the cases of Jewish, Italian and Mexican immigrants. For the case of Mexican immigration, I have incorporated readings and a film that will help us put a human face on immigration. Another focus of this course will be the real-life consequences of race and ethnicity. Although, as we will learn, race and ethnicity are social constructions and are not “real” in any biological sense, they still have real consequences. Being members of a certain race or ethnicity affects where you live, your health status, your degree of accumulated wealth, your chances of being arrested, what kinds of jobs you do, your experience in the workplace and what kinds of schools you attend. We will explore each of these consequences in this course. Finally, we will be addressing current “hot topics” like immigration and affirmative action and will apply information learned in this class to assess these debates


By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Understand the social and historical constructions of race and ethnicity in the U.S. context
  • Be familiar with structural and cultural perspectives on racial and ethnic group integration into society
  • Recognize the real-life structural consequences of the concepts of race and ethnicity
  • Be able to apply critical thinking skills to assess current debates on the topics of race, ethnicity and immigration

Required Texts:

  • Gallagher, Charles. 2018 (6th edition). Rethinking the Color Line: Readings in Race and Ethnicity. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. 1991. Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • McClure, S.M. and Harris, C.A. eds., 2017. Getting Real about Race: Hoodies, Mascots, Model Minorities, and Other Conversations. SAGE Publications.
  • Thompson, Gabriel. 2007. There’s No José Here: Following the Hidden Lives of Mexican Immigrants. New York, NY: Nation Books.
  • Steinberg, Stephen. 2001 (3rd ed.). The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity and Class in America. Boston, MA.

*Note: If you plan to buy your books from the CU bookstore, please do so early in the semester


Your final grade is based on course requirements above, with point distributions:

Assignment Percentage
Canvas reading memos 15%
Examining your attitudes toward race 5%
Group Immigration/Affirmative Action Project 25%
Exams 30%
Take-Home Essay 25%
Total 100%



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8:00am to 5:00pm


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Boulder, Colorado