Critically discuss the ways in which ideas of Black inferiority and the place of Black people in the U.S. and the Diaspora are represented through negative ideas about Black culture; i.e. “broken families,” parental irresponsibility, poverty, sexuality, childbearing, and criminality/incarceration. As a basis of your discussion, use specific representations (i.e. narratives, arguments, presentations of data, etc.) of African American culture found in the D.P. Moynihan report (as discussed in class) and/or the Moyers video below. Please also discuss possible alternative structural explanations (economic, racial, gender) of the continued problems that Black people have in U.S. society that might debunk the ideas presented in the Moyers video and/or in D.P. Moynihan’s report.
This prompt tests your understanding of the “cultural deficiency” explanations as to why it is that Black people are not as successful as whites in U.S. society and the structural alternative explanations of Black people’s subaltern position.
Acceptable answers will provide a basic understanding of the Moynihan/Moyers thesis about Black cultural values and their relationship to Black achievement. Answers at this level should also include the basic structural arguments against the purely cultural argument.
Good answers should do all of the above. Additionally, the discussion of the Moynihan/Moyers thesis should clearly articulate why this is a cultural argument. The response must also lay out the alternative structural explanations by clearly reviewing structures of patriarchy or sexism and the role that they play in inhibiting the viability of Black families.
Excellent answers should do all of the above, will be well written and clear, will use readings from the class to make their points, and will be particularly adept at using materials from the class to analyze the speeches and videos.
Overall fluency with the conceptual categories and demonstration of a critical approach in utilizing conceptual categories presented in class in relationship to the everyday evidence provided in a well written essay is what we are looking for. There are no completely right or wrong answers. We are looking for thoughtfully analytical answers that use the class materials to understand the issues involved in and behind the prompt.
Be sure to use and properly cite materials from the class lectures, class discussion, and readings in formulating your answers. In addition to the course lectures and readings, please cite and reference all other information that you use to help construct your essay such as articles from major newspapers, demographics, scholarly articles or texts.
Your essay should be 3 double-spaced typewritten pages (12 font, standard margins). Your responses should be uploaded as a PDF or Word document.

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