Construction of Racial Identity


This essay assignment asks you to think about the construction of racial identity. That is, because we understand that categorizes of race—for example “black” or “white”—are not static—what does the 1920s teach us about how Americans constructed and interpreted racial categories? What cultural, intellectual, and political influences impacted Americans’ ideas about race? And second, how did these racial categories impact various Americans’ ideas of who should be entitled to full citizenship within the United States? 

Our essay topic requires you to draw upon the following sources:

  • At least three of the primary sources assigned for week 1. (These are the sources in For the Record.)
  • Chapter 4 of These United States (secondary source)


  • Please double-space the essay.
  • 900-1200 words
  • Remember to include a title that gives your reader insight into the nature of your argument.

 Evaluation: These essay answers will be graded on a variety of factors. I have included a rubric, and I recommend that you look at it before you begin writing and also before you finally submit the essay. In addition to the rubric, here’s an overview of what, I will be looking for:

  • the presence of a thesis. A thesis guides the shape of your essays and makes a contestable claim.
  • use of specific evidence to support your claims.
  • your ability to answer the questions without using any sources we did not read as a class (so no, do not do extra research for these answers!)..

 Citations (and some information about avoiding plagiarism):

  • For this essay, you must cite page numbers information you got from another source, and use MLA style. Remember, specific page numbers are critical as they help that you adequately give credit to other authors, help you appear credible to your reader, and enable your reader to follow up on anything you’ve written.
  • This link introduces you to the basics of MLA citation (Links to an external site.).

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