Applied Anthropology in the College Composition Classroom: Teaching Color-Blind Racism with the American “Teen Pic”

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Recurring American “teen pic” conventions including (but not limited to) the “token black guy,” the “idiotic male/exoticized and sexualized female foreign exchange student,” reinforce colorblind racism within audiences who are targeted by age rather than ethnicity or class. Subsequently, current racial ideology seeking to deny systemic discrimination experienced by non-white Americans is reproduced within teenage movie-goer’s consciousness. Sociologist, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s (2006) Racism without Racists provides social science frames with which to discuss America’s colorblind racism within the writing composition classroom. By applying these frames toward analysis of mainstream teen film, critically conscious curricula can (less-threateningly) initiate discussion of racism amongst college freshmen who are usually resistant to exploring issues of difference and inequality.


Keywords: Racism, Pop Culture, Composition Pedagogy, Applied Anthropology, Critically Conscious Curricula
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Aja Martinez

Graduate Assistant Teacher, Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English Program
Department of English, University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona, USA

For the entirety of my academic career in higher education, I have focused centrally on issues concerning diversity and access to education and democratic civic discourse. During my undergraduate career at the University of Arizona I majored in Anthropology with a concentration in Cultural and Applied Anthropology and a common theme of my research projects involved providing people and communities who are often overlooked or whose knowledge is dismissed by the educated, access to this same discourse community. I stand now as a graduate student and teacher who has first-hand experience with both raced and classed disparities represented in academia. People like me are not represented in any significant numeric proportions in the classes I teach nor those I take, thus as an academic aware of underrepresentation and inequality, my path has coursed toward increasing access and retention of diversity representation in higher education through my own classroom pedagogy.

Ref: I08P0668