This is an account of a "Race and Power in the US" course exercise conducted at UMass Boston. In a unit on the Japanese-American internment during WWII and the movement for reparations in the 1970s and 1980s that culminated in 1988 when President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act into law, the students are asked to put themselves in the shoes of a Japanese-American and to write a letter to a family member. The purpose of the assignment is to help foster in the students sensitivity (to paraphrase C. Wright Mills) to the interplay between socio-historical contexts and the individuals responding to them. The article includes a summary of the sociological imagination exercise as reported by the instructor, and two imaginative letters written by students.



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