Tough day -- but a good one! The MWF class went pretty well, I think. We watched part of a PBS documentary called "Race: The Power of an Illusion." This short piece talks about the idea that biologically there are no differences between people in terms of race. Our DNA resembles those in our specific location, even if the other person seemingly seems different because of racial differences. After the video, I tried to show them how they can use snippets of this visual text to help them create the racial autobiographies that they are working on (essay assignment #1). I think I did this part OK, though there was a ton of dissention as to whether race "counts." I discovered that I need to be careful about how I help to shape the discussion because I thought, maybe again, that I was being a bit defensive in terms of why I picked this topic for this course.
The evening class (we just finished a few minutes ago!) went well! All the students returned from last week (minus one) and I think the discussion went much better; people seemed more comfortable with each other. The MWF class has an older gentleman who has issues with race in general -- in the evening class it is a youngish guy (early 20's). Interesting. We talked about essay organization after talking about Black Like Me and reviewing the racial autobiography assignment BUT what worked better here was that a student (Mary) allowed me to use her draft (she had emailed it to me for comments over the weekend) to frame the discussion. This was pretty brave of her. In the end, we had a fun discussion (partly because of Mary's willingness to let me use her draft!). Essentially, I got a good vibe. And I wasn't nervous. All good.
Here is a snippet from the series I am showing the students: