Students must complete an approximately 1,000 word reflective essay. (The word count excludes the title page, notes, and bibliography, if necessary.) The purpose of this assignment is to reflect on how race relations have evolved from the late nineteenth century to the present day by analyzing contemporary popular culture.
Reflective Essay Questions: To effectively complete the assignment, students must view the videos and answer all questions. See questions below.
The essay should consist of an introduction and a thesis, responses to the essay questions based on the required viewing material, information gleaned from past assignments, the optional use of supplemental resources, and a conclusion. While writing your essay, think about the big picture of American History. What has history taught us about race and race relations in the U.S., and why, ultimately should we care? (Historians are ever mindful of the proverbial so what? question.) The goal of this assignment ultimately is to reflect on, synthesize, and interpret what you have learned thus far in the course by peering through the lens of contemporary popular culture.
Focus on history: think about cause and effect, and change over time.
Create the paper in Microsoft Word, using 12-point type, double-spaced paragraphs, and one-inch margins.
Proofread your essay for mechanical errors before submitting the final draft.
You can use first person pronouns, e.g., I, you, us, or we in this assignment.
Avoid passive voice, e.g., It was decided or Decisions have been made. Passive voice does not convey agency; it does not answer the important question: who did what to whom?
Do not plagiarize. Students who plagiarize will earn a ZERO for the assignment, with no opportunity to re-do it.
Resources & Citing
Secondary and/or additional primary sources are not required to complete this assignment; however, if you use additional resources, they must be credible and properly cited. Ask your professor if you have any questions about the credibility of a resource. Use the MLA Citation Style, 8th ed. to cite all sources.
Assessment & Grading
The grade for this assignment is based on the following 4 categories, worth 25 points each:
Thesis Statement and Content
Historical Thinking: Narrative and Context
Organization, Syntax, Grammar, and Spelling
Historical Analysis: Evaluation & Critical Thinking
Reflective Essay Questions & Media
Watch the sketch, “Frontline: Clayton Bigsby,” featured in Season 1 of Chappelle’s Show, which aired on Comedy Central in 2003. Writer and comedian Dave Chappelle portrays Clayton Bigsby, the main character in the sketch. Be sure to watch both parts (both videos) below. Next, watch the two stand-up comedy monologues, “2042 and the White Minority” and “Racism vs. White Guilt,” which were written and delivered by Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu, who, like Chappelle, often addresses issues of race and nationality in his work. All media works are linked below.
Reflective Essay Questions:
How does Dave Chappelle parody racial stereotypes and racism in his sketch?
How does the blindness of the black, white supremacist character in Frontline: Clayton Bigsby symbolize the absurdity and injustice of racism?
What does Bigsbys racial slur N-word lover reveal about the interactions between white and African Americans over time? Consider the antebellum abolitionist movement in your answer.
Do you think the use of the racial slur “N-word by a black comedian to satirize racism is OK? Why or why not? Consider the history of this derogatory term in your answer.
Do you think the sketch is groundbreaking from a historical perspective in terms of addressing race and racism in the U.S.? Why or why not? (Consider the fact that Chappelle wrote, produced, and starred in the sketch, which relatively recently aired on national television.)
Why did this sketch cause controversy when it aired?
Do you think Chappelle’s brand of humor helps or hinders race relations in the U.S.? Why or why not?
How does Kondabolu parody racial stereotypes and racism in his work?
Kondabolu addresses “white guilt” in his work; what exactly is white guilt?
What does Kondabolu mean by “race is a social construct”?
Do you think Kondabolu’s style of humor helps or hinders race relations in the U.S.? Why or why not?
In your conclusion, compare Chappelle’s and Kondabolu’s approaches to addressing race and racism, and address how slavery has affected American society over time.
Watch the 4 videos below in order to answer the questions above.
Frontline: Clayton Bigsby Part 1 by Dave Chappelle
Frontline: Clayton Bigsby Part 2 by Dave Chappelle
(Links to an external site.)
2042 and the White Minority by Hari Kondabolu
(Links to an external site.)
Racism vs. White Guilt by Hari Kondabolu