Our second participation forum this week focuses on issues raised in Chapter 3: Core Values and Political Culture, specifically our discussions of white supremacy, racism, privilege, and oppression.
We will watch two videos, and then answer questions about each of them. Please review the assignment rubric below for details about word count and responses before completing.
Video 1: “Racism in the United States: By the Numbers”
This is a brief video by the VlogBrothers (self-described as “raising nerdy to the power of awesome”), in which one of the brothers explores recent data on racism in the United States. This is informative and short, though it moves pretty fast and you may have to pause periodically to catch up (at least I had to).
Link: Links to an external site.
(Right-click on the link above and open in new tab/window. If the link does not open, please copy and paste it into your browser. If that doesn’t work, search “Racism in the United States by the numbers Vlogbrothers” on YouTube.)
YOUR TASK: Watch the video, then identify and briefly discuss at least two pieces of data mentioned that you were unaware of, that raised questions for you, or you would like to learn more about.
Video 2: Heather McGhee: “Racism Has a Cost For Everyone.”
Heather McGhee is a writer, advocate, and researcher. She is the former president of Demos, an economic policy organization focused on tax policy, and how social and economic policies impact working people. Her recent book is called The Sum of Us. This is a TedTalk she gave in 2019, focused on how racism and racist policies negatively impact all people, including white people.
Link: Links to an external site.
(Right-click on the link and open in new tab/window. If the link does not open, please copy and paste it into your browser. If that doesn’t work, search “heather mcghee racism has a cost for everyone” and look for videos.)
YOUR TASK: Watch the video and discuss two (2) of the following five (4) references or questions. You can answer more than two if you are so moved, but you won’t score extra points 🙂
a) While McGhee doesn’t use the term “white privilege,” she is speaking to the idea that many white people do not want to give up their perceived advantages and/or sense of themselves as superior. Highlight some examples of this from her talk.
b) The VlogBrothers video is effective because the data and the resources are so extensive. But Heather McGhee’s TedTalk is effective for different reasons – can you identify some of them?
c) Describe which of McGhee’s three examples/points – underinvestment and disinvestment in public goods and resources, the subprime mortgage/housing collapse, efforts to unionize a southern auto factory – were most compelling for you, and why.
d) What do you think is the lesson, or the lessons, McGhee hopes we will take from this? In other words, what is the work she is asking us to do? Explain.
NOTE: Your answers must be substantive: meaning, related to the questions, and demonstrating your comprehension of the points raised in the video. To help in this, you can identify any points of connection between the video and Chapter 3, as well as the data discussed in the VlogBrothers video.
You may include your own personal ideas about racism, oppression, etc., but before you do, you should deal with the substance of the questions.


Approximately 250 words