Welcome to our site! We are the Macalester College American Studies 101- Explorations of Race and Racism class taught by professor Duchess Harris and Lizeth Gutierrez. This site is our class project seeking to create a balanced portrait of the history of suburban Levittown, Pennsylvania.
Levittown, Pennsylvania is seldom portrayed as more than the story of the first successful suburb in the United States. However, “[t]here are stories that are true and stories we want to believe,” and the real tale of Levittown involves much more than sparkling white picket fences and large backyards (Kushner xi). The reality of Levittown is a book we don’t want to open, for it exposes the nation’s post World War II anxieties, the American Dream’s boundaries, society’s racial construction and contradictions, and the intersectionality of racism. It’s the opposite of comfort, perfection, and safety. And this is exactly why we read.
The main objectives of this introductory course are: to explore the historical construction of racial categories in the United States; to understand the systemic impact of racism on contemporary social processes; to consider popular views about race in the light of emerging scholarship in the field; and to develop an ability to connect personal experiences to larger, collective realities. We will engage several questions as a group: What are the historical and sociological foundations of racial categories? When does focusing on race make someone racist? What is white privilege, and why does it matter?
Kushner, David. Levittown: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America’s Legendary Suburb. New York: Walker, 2009. Print.