Race: The Power of an Illusion

• What is the significance of the episode’s title, “The Story We Tell”? What
function has that story played in the U.S.? What are the stories about race that
you tell? What are the stories you have heard? Did the film change the way you
think about those stories? If so, how?
• What are some ways that race has been used to rationalize inequality?
• How has race been used to shift attention (and responsibility) away from
oppressors and toward the targets of oppression?
• Contrast Thomas Jefferson’s policy to assimilate American Indians in the 1780s
with Andrew Jackson’s policy of removing Cherokees to west of the Mississippi in
the 1830s. What is common to both policies? What differentiates them?
• What role did beliefs about race play in the American colonization of Mexican
territory, Cuba, the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico?

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