Systemic Racism

Your paper provides the opportunity to combine the research from a classic theorist such as Marx to a modern day theorist such as Cornell West, Michael Eric Dyson, or Patricia Hill Collins.

All papers demand thoughtful synthesis and critical commentary on a contemporary issue related to “Black Lives Matter.” As an example, Marx discussed the relationship of the proletariat to the bourgeoisie and the ownership of property as a symbol of power and oppression. These concepts could be related to current state of economic deprivation, educational dysfunction, poverty and race from the works of Cornell West.

You have wide latitude in selecting themes/focal points, but in all cases your paper should demonstrate how a sociological theorist addresses overarching/integrative questions about sociological theory. Some preliminary bibliographic sources are provided in the syllabus and your texts. You must consult sociological journals and books for scholarly writing relevant to your theorist. The paper should include understanding of primary works by the theorists in addition to secondary analysis.

Final Research Paper Format:

Introduction (1-2 pages). Introduce your theorist and briefly situate him/her in terms of the overarching topics and questions which concern our understanding of the social world. By the end of the second paragraph it is essential that you have told me what the purpose of your paper is and what your central argument / thesis is. If you read the first two paragraphs of your paper and the goals and purpose of the paper are not very clear, please revise. I would also suggest a “map” paragraph at the end of the introduction that tells me where we will be going in the paper. (For example, “I first explain….then argue….by presenting evidence about three themes….”)

Body (6-8 pages). In this section please present and develop your argument by providing several distinct pieces of information / evidence in support of it. Durkheim wrote, “My ideas are destined to be modified and reformulated in the future.” Keep in mind a comparative framework throughout your paper regarding developments, amendments, and disagreements that exist between your theorist and other theorists.

If there is any relevant background to explain about your thesis / argument present that first. (For example, key terms may need a paragraph to articulate what you mean. Perhaps a brief paragraph or two about the history relevant to your argument would be necessary).

Conclusion (1-2 pages): By this point, your argument and all of your evidence should be clearly presented. Briefly summarize your argument here and think about what the implications of your argument are more broadly. If your findings raise questions about other topics covered in this class, please make those connections briefly here. If you have concluded, after writing this paper, that you want to know more about your topic, explain what the next steps might be. etc.

**After you have finished writing your paper, go back and read the introduction, the first sentence of each of your paragraphs, and your conclusion. From this, the point of your paper should be very clear. If parts of your argument are embedded in the middle of other paragraphs (so you don’t see them when doing this little test), restructure your paragraphs. Also make sure that you don’t conclude something that contradicts or is very different from what you say in the introduction. After finishing their first draft, most people need to take the conclusion to their paper and use it to rewrite their introduction!

Your paper must present a clear and comprehensive view of the theorist’s place within the discipline of sociology. What were the critical contributions and outcomes of their research? How did they reshape or redefine perspectives in sociology?


Systemic Racism in America has been a social injustice for over 400 years. In today’s society, we would like to think that race and racism are that of the past. Unfortunately, that is not the reality that African Americans have continued to endure even after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Systemic Racism is intertwined into the fabric of the United States.  The social, financial, and racial inequalities that African American’s experience to this day have not changed and can demonstrate the connection between two different time periods. The declining significance of race can be explained using the works of classical theorist Karl Marx and contemporary theorist William Julius Wilson.

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