Only a very few schools in this country actually require all students to spend an entire semester thinking about issues of race and gender. Many more have found a way to incorporate these issues in required courses in “social problems” where racism and sexism get their two weeks along with environmental pollution and other current issues. I think this approach is dead wrong. Racism and sexism are not “problems” or “topics.” They are ways of defining reality and living our lives that most of us have learned along with learning how to tie our shoes and how to drink from a cup. You cannot begin to get students to understand their force and their function by spending a few classes looking at sexist advertising or a sampling of statistics that document discrimination in employment. It has taken our students and ourselves a lifetime to learn our racism and sexism and it will take considerably more than even a one semester course to get us to begin the lifelong process of unlearning them.


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