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Even though the law is neither uniform nor explicit . . . in protecting settled expectations

 based on white privilege, American law has recognized a property interest in whiteness

that . . . now forms the background against which legal disputes are framed



Books by Floyd W. Hayes, III

A Turbulent Voyage: Readings in African American Studies / Forty Acres and a Mule: The Rape of Colored Americans

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Race in US Politics


PS 303, Race in U.S. Politics Fall Semester 2003


Department of Political Science & Public Administration


Professor Floyd W. Hayes, III 


One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over.  We must not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only remember that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer.  We must forget that George Washington was a slave owner, or that Thomas Jefferson had mulatto children, or that Alexander Hamilton had Negro blood, and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring.  

The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth.—W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880

Buttressed by their belief that their God had entrusted the earth into their keeping, drunk with power and possibility, waxing rich through trade in commodities, human and non-human, with awesome naval and merchant marines at their disposal, their countries filled with human debris anxious for any adventures, psychologically armed with new facts, white Western Christian civilization during the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, with a long, slow, and bloody explosion, hurled itself upon the sprawling masses of colored humanity in Asia and Africa….For the West to disclaim responsibility for what it so clearly did is to make every white man alive on earth today a criminal. Richard Wright, White Man, Listen!

America became white—the people who, as they claim, “settled” the country became white—because of the necessity of denying the Black presence, and justifying the Black subjugation.  No community can be based on such a principle—or, in other words, no community can be established on so genocidal a lie.  

White men—from Norway, for example, where they were Norwegians—became white: by slaughtering the cattle, poisoning the wells, torching the houses, massacring Native Americans, raping Black women….But this cowardice, this necessity of justifying a totally false identity and of justifying what must be called a genocidal history, has placed everyone now living into the hands of the most ignorant and powerful people the world has ever seen:  And how did they get that way?...By deciding that they were white.  By opting for safety instead of life.  

By persuading themselves that a Black child’s life meant nothing compared with a white child’s life.  By abandoning their children to the things white men could buy.  By informing their children that Black women, Black men and Black children had no human integrity that those who call themselves white were bound to respect.  And in this debasement and definition of Black people, they debased and defamed themselves. —James Baldwin, “On Being ‘White’…and Other Lies

In ways so embedded that it is rarely apparent, the set of assumptions, privileges, and benefits that accompany the status of being white have become a valuable asset—one that whites sought to protect and those [blacks] who passed sought to attain, by fraud if necessary. Whites have come to expect and rely on these benefits, and over time these expectations have been affirmed, legitimated, and protected by the law.  

Even though the law is neither uniform nor explicit in all instances, in protecting settled expectations based on white privilege, American law has recognized a property interest in whiteness that, although unacknowledged, now forms the background against which legal disputes are framed, argued, and adjudicated.—Cheryl Harris, “Whiteness as Property

By racism I mean the self-deceiving choice to believe either that one’s race is the only race qualified to be considered human or that one’s race is superior to other races.—Lewis R. Gordon, Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism


This course investigates the impact of race(ism) on US political development.   Hence, the broad purpose of this course is to encourage students to think and write critically about the manner in which white supremacy, as a modern global system of thought and practice, came to function as the keystone in the making and maintenance of America.  We will examine the manner in which modern Western ideas of racial superiority and inferiority legitimized the strategies of conquest, colonialism, genocide, enslavement, and land expropriation in the establishment of the United States as a white republic.  

We will explore how whiteness has operated as the invisible norm in American political culture, a transparent, yet ubiquitous frame of reference so pervasive that even today most whites consider themselves absolved from race matters.   We will investigate how white intellectuals have constructed the national identity as white, excluding any direct reference to African Americans and other people of color.  We will examine closely how white supremacy operates to protect the power, privileges, profits, and pleasures that whiteness affords.  

Finally, we will examine critically a number of contemporary public policy issues and the manner in which America continues to deny racial justice to African Americans and other people of color.  In the last analysis, we will want to answer the following questions: What does it mean for Americans to speak and write about such lofty principles as freedom, justice, and equality, but then to devalue these values (historically and presently) by denying them to African Americans and other native populations?  Does America’s racist political culture call into question the United States as a democratic polity?


Feagin, Joe R. 2000. Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations. New York: Routledge.

Mills, Charles W. 1997. The Racial Contract. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Morrison, Toni. 1992. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Rothenberg, Paula S. 2002. Ed. White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism. New York: Worth Publishers.

Walters, Ronald. 2003. White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.



Drucker, Peter F.  1993.  Post-Capitalist Society. New York: HarperCollins.

Fernandez, John P.  1993.  The Diversity Advantage.  New York: Lexington Books.

Handy, Charles.  1989.  The Age of Unreason. Harvard Business School Press.

Marable, Manning, and Leith Mullings. 2000. Eds. Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Reich, Robert B.  1991.  Work of Nations. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Rifkin, Jeremy.  1995.  The End of Work. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown & Company.

Toffler, Alvin.  1990.  Powershift. New York: Bantam Books.


W Aug. 27        READ: Racial Contract, Introduction

F Aug. 29         READ: Racial Contract, Chap. 1

M Sept. 1          Holiday: No Class

W Sept. 3         READ: Racial Contract, Chap. 2

F Sept. 5           READ: Racial Contract, Chap. 3


M Sept. 8          READ: Racist America, Introduction

W Sept. 10        READ: Racist America, Chap. 1

F Sept. 12         READ: Racist America, Chap. 2

M Sept. 15        READ: Racist America, Chap. 3

W Sept. 17        READ: Racist America, Chap. 4

F Sept. 19         READ: Racist America, Chap. 5

M Sept. 22        READ: Racist America, Chap. 6


W Sept. 24        READ: Racist America, Chap. 7

F Sept. 26         READ: Racist America, Chap. 8


M Sept. 29        READ: Playing in the Dark, Preface

W Oct. 1          READ: Playing in the Dark, Chap. 1

F Oct. 3            READ: Playing in the Dark, Chap. 2

M Oct. 6           READ: Playing in the Dark, Chap. 3

                       MID-TERM EXAMINATION DUE

W-F Oct. 8-10  FALL BREAK


M Oct. 13         READ: White Privilege, Introduction

W Oct. 15         READ: White Privilege, Part I, Chap. 1

F Oct. 17          READ: White Privilege, Part I, Chap. 2

M Oct. 20         READ: White Privilege, Part I, Chap. 3

W Oct. 22         READ: White Privilege, Part II, Chap. 1

F Oct. 24          READ: White Privilege, Part II, Chap. 2

M Oct. 27         READ: White Privilege, Part II, Chap. 3

                       THOUGHT PAPER DUE

W Oct. 29         READ: White Privilege, Part II, Chap. 4

F Oct. 31          READ: White Privilege, Part III, Chap. 1

M Nov. 3          READ: White Privilege, Part III, Chap. 2

W Nov. 5          READ: White Privilege, Part III, Chap. 3

F Nov. 7           READ: White Privilege, Part III, Chap. 4


M Nov. 10             READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Introduction

W Nov. 12             READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chap. 1

F Nov. 14               READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chap. 2

M Nov. 17             READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chap. 3

                                THOUGHT PAPER DUE

W Nov. 19             READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chap. 4

F Nov. 21               READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chap. 5

M Nov. 24             READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chap. 6


M Dec. 1                READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chap. 7

W Dec. 3                READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chap. 8

F Dec. 5  READ: White Nationalism, Black Interests, Chaps. 9 and 10

M Dec. 8                FINAL EXAMINATION (8:00-11:00 AM)


You are expected to read thoroughly and think seriously about all assignments before coming to class and be prepared to discuss them effectively in class.  Indeed, this course will emphasize active discussion as the major pedagogical strategy employed in this class.  Therefore, you should develop personal syntheses of class discussions and readings.  This course will test your ability to integrate these bodies of knowledge and to communicate this learning both through speaking and writing.  Hence, simply memorizing isolated facts and regurgitating them are insufficient in regard to class discussions, examinations, the research paper, and grading.

My intent is to challenge you to demonstrate the ability to think analytically, independently, and critically about the subject matter of this course.  The aim is to encourage you to formulate and defend your own arguments thoughtfully, intelligently, and persuasively.  At times we may contest the interpretation of the authors we read and discuss.  The political, social, economic, and cultural life experiences of African Americans are complex and complicated, allowing for differing and competing explanations.  

Thus, I urge you to forego the usual anxiety about always having to discover and articulate the "right" answer to questions posed.  Multiple and sometimes competing explanations or interpretations may be more appropriate than a single all-encompassing one.  Our task, in the final analysis, is to develop the ability to think, speak, and write intelligently and critically about race(ism) in American politics.  This kind of critical reflection and discussion also can be a formula for changing ourselves and for changing society.

The character of class dialogue enhances the process of learning about political life.  Political dialogue also encourages the development and refinement of skills needed to practice political knowledge in complex and diverse social settings—the ability to keep an open mind, to stand in another person's shoes, to make decisions with others, and to make compromises while maintaining integrity.  Ideas should be openly discussed and debated so that people can choose which ones they will endorse or reject.  Hence, it is important that all class members actively participate in class discussions.

To accomplish these objectives, students will be divided into discussion groups that will review and analyze each day’s reading assignment.  Following this, there will be a general class discussion of the reading; each group will present to the class the major points of its deliberation. Groups should be careful to describe the reading’s subject, theme, or issue; state the author’s purpose and thesis or argument; briefly summarize the assignment’s key points, identifying the evidence used to support the thesis or argument; provide constructive criticism when appropriate; and raise questions in the reading for class discussion. 

In order to maintain continuity and improve the learning process, discussion groups should point out the present reading’s relationship to previous reading assignments.  An important learning mechanism, class discussion also can result in problem identification and handling, political and cultural change, resisting cultural imperialism and enslavement, and societal renewal and advancement.  It enhances mutual understanding and respect.  In the absence of communication, misunderstanding, rage, resentment, and cynicism can become the order to the day.


As this course suggests, we live in a period of rapid, uncertain, and often chaotic change.  My educational philosophy is both simple and complex, drawing strongly from The Hidden Curriculum by Benson R. Snyder: "We are confronted with the necessity of educating students without either the students or their education becoming obsolete."  Education is the practice of liberation.  I view learning as a struggle for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in order to prepare for a future of freedom. 

Therefore, I will challenge you not so much to agree or disagree with me as to grow intellectually, personally, and socially.  Don’t be afraid to learn something new, and be prepared to take intellectual risks.  The classroom needs to become a setting in which to create an environment where you can discover who you are and where you are encouraged to be more of who you already are.  Free your mind!  Think independently and critically!  Act audaciously in the world!

To what passions may we surrender with assurance that we will expand rather than diminish the promise of our lives?  The quest for knowledge that enables us to unite theory and practice is one such passion.  To the extent that professors bring this passion, which has to be fundamentally rooted in a love for ideas we are able to inspire, the classroom becomes a dynamic place where transformations in social relations are concretely actualized and the false dichotomy between the world outside and the inside world of the academy disappears. 

bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

Every university student own and use a dictionary as well as a good writing handbook.  There are numerous writing guides.  I find the following quite helpful. 

Gibaldi, Joseph. 1998. MLA Style Manual and Guide for Scholarly Publishing, New York: The Modern Language Association of America.  

posted 30 December 2005

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Report of the Research Committee
on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings
Thomas Jefferson Foundation

January 2000


Based on the examination of currently available primary and secondary documentary evidence, the oral histories of descendants of Monticello's African-American community, recent scientific studies, and the guidance of individual members of Monticello's Advisory Committee for the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies and Advisory Committee on African-American Interpretation, the Research Committee has reached the following conclusions:

Dr. Foster's DNA study was conducted in a manner that meets the standards of the scientific community, and its scientific results are valid.

The DNA study, combined with multiple strands of currently available documentary and statistical evidence, indicates a high probability that Thomas Jefferson fathered Eston Hemings, and that he most likely was the father of all six of Sally Hemings's children appearing in Jefferson's records. Those children are Harriet, who died in infancy; Beverly; an unnamed daughter who died in infancy; Harriet; Madison; and Eston.

Many aspects of this likely relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson are, and may remain, unclear, such as the nature of the relationship, the existence and longevity of Sally Hemings's first child, and the identity of Thomas C. Woodson.

The implications of the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson should be explored and used to enrich the understanding and interpretation of Jefferson and the entire Monticello community.—Monticello

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Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: A Brief Account 

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom (1777), the third President of the United States (1801–1809) and founder of the University of Virginia (1819). He was an influential Founding Father and an exponent of Jeffersonian democracy.

Sarah "Sally" Hemings (Shadwell, Albemarle County, Virginia, circa 1773 – Charlottesville, Virginia, 1835) was a mixed-race slave owned by President Thomas Jefferson through inheritance from his wife. She was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson by their father John Wayles. She was notable because most historians now believe that the widower Jefferson had six children with her, and maintained an extended relationship for 38 years until his death. When Jefferson's relationship and children were reported in 1802, there was sensational coverage for a time, but Jefferson remained silent on the issue. Four Hemings-Jefferson children survived to adulthood. He let two "escape" in 1822 at the age of 21 and freed the younger two in his will in 1826.

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Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy

By Annette Gordon-Reed

Attorney Gordon-Reed (law, New York Law Sch.) presents a lawyer's analysis of the evidence for and against the proposition that Jefferson was the father of several children born to his household slave Sally Hemings. Gordon-Reed is not concerned with Jefferson and Hemings as much as she is with how Jefferson's defenders have dealt with the evidence about the case. Her book takes aim at such noteworthy biographers as Dumas Malone, who has been quick to accept evidence against a liaison and quick to reject evidence for one.—Library Journal

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Remember Thomas Jefferson's Betrayal—Bill Moyers—02 July 12—Jefferson himself was an aristocrat whose inheritance of 5,000 acres, and the slaves to work it, mocked his eloquent notion of equality. He acknowledged that slavery degraded master and slave alike, but would not give his own slaves their freedom. Their labor kept him financially afloat. Hundreds of slaves, forced like beasts of burden to toil from sunrise to sunset under threat of the lash, enabled him to thrive as a privileged gentleman, to pursue his intellectual interests, and to rise in politics.

Even the children born to him by the slave Sally Hemings remained slaves, as did their mother. Only an obscure provision in his will released his children after his death. All the others—scores of slaves—were sold to pay off his debts.

Yes, Thomas Jefferson possessed "a happy talent for composition," but he employed it for cross purposes. Whatever he was thinking when he wrote "all men are created equal," he also believed black people were inferior to white people. Inferior, he wrote, "to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind." To read his argument today is to enter the pathology of white superiority that attended the birth of our nation.

So forcefully did he state the case, and so great was his standing among the slave-holding class, that after his death the black abolitionist David Walker would claim Jefferson's argument had "injured us more, and has been as great a barrier to our emancipation as any thing that has ever been advanced against us," for it had ". . . sunk deep into the hearts of millions of the whites, and never will be removed this side of eternity."

So, the ideal of equality Jefferson proclaimed, he also betrayed. He got it right when he wrote about "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" as the core of our human aspirations. But he lived it wrong, denying to others the rights he claimed for himself. And that's how Jefferson came to embody the oldest and longest war of all—the war between the self and the truth, between what we know and how we live.

So enjoy the fireworks and flags, the barbecues and bargain sales. But hold this thought as well: that behind this Fourth of July holiday are human beings who were as flawed and conflicted as they were inspired. If they were to look upon us today, they most likely would think as they did then, how much remains to be done.—readersupportednews

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Jefferson and his estate "disposed of" 600 slaves in his lifetime.   He was a slave trader.  This explains his opposition to the African Slave Trade.   Like many Virginians he wanted to maintain prices in the slave market.—wjm

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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Jefferson's Pillow

The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism

By Roger W. Wilkins

 In Jefferson's Pillow, Wilkins returns to America's beginnings and the founding fathers who preached and fought for freedom, even though they owned other human beings and legally denied them their humanity. He asserts that the mythic accounts of the American Revolution have ignored slavery and oversimplified history until the heroes, be they the founders or the slaves in their service, are denied any human complexity. Wilkins offers a thoughtful analysis of this fundamental paradox through his exploration of the lives of George Washington, George Mason, James Madison, and of course Thomas Jefferson. He discusses how class, education, and personality allowed for the institution of slavery, unravels how we as Americans tell different sides of that story, and explores the confounding ability of that narrative to limit who we are and who we can become. An important intellectual history of America's founding, Jefferson's Pillow will change the way we view our nation and ourselves.

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The Women Jefferson Loved

By Virginia Scharff

According to historian Scharff, Thomas Jefferson’s “most closely guarded secrets, the most fiercely maintained silences, all had to do with the women he loved.” It stands to reason that in order to fully understand a man as tremendously gifted and as deeply flawed as Thomas Jefferson, one must also understand and appreciate the women who collectively formed the foundation of his life and shaped the nature of his legacy. Although Jefferson’s mother, daughters, granddaughters, wife, and enslaved mistress were all fascinating women who played distinct roles in his life and legend, they were also creatures of their time and place, living, enduring, and playing by the rules of a patriarchal, male-dominated society. By studying these women Scharff not only opens a window to the heart and soul of one of our nation’s founders but also resurrects their own contributions to our nation’s history.—Booklist

The chapter on Sally Hemings does not add much new information, but it certainly lays out the facts we know in a comprehensive and well organized fashion. Much like Professor Gordon-Reed, the author carefully explains the strange dual-family existence that prevailed at Monticello, and how servants integrated with the Jefferson family as they all lived together. As regards the two daughters, they too emerge from the historical darkness and we learn a great deal about them and their important role in TJ's life and activities. As I read each chapter, I learned all manner of things of which I had not been aware, and I have read a lot of material on TJ. So women are central to the story, but there is also an abundance of additional facts and perspectives that very much enhance the book. —Ronald H. Clark

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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Related files:  Uncle Jeff and His Contempos   Teflon Sense of History   Race in US Politics Syllabus  Banneker and Jefferson   Thomas Jefferson Negro Family 

Nuking Westerns and White Manliness     Teflon Sense of History   The Dark Side of Obedience   Benjamin Banneker