The Differences Between Us

Watch all three episodes of PBS Frontline’s Race: The Power of an Illusion and answer the following questions.  You can find this documentary series at most libraries.  It is available for online streaming via the UMass library’s subscription to Kanopy.  Simply search “Kanopy” on the library’s website and follow the links to get access to Kanopy’s streaming service.  If you haven’t already, check out their great selection!
Episode 1 – The Differences Between Us


  • How was biology used to naturalize social differences?

  • From where did the NAZI’s of 1930s Germany derive their racial theories?

  • Which Italian-American baseball player for the Brooklyn Dodgers once hit 40 homeruns in a season?

  • What did Lewontin’s research tell us about genetic variation within and between races?

  • If race is a biological myth, does this also mean that race is not real?

  • Episode 2 – The Story We Tell

  • Explain the development of the modern concept of race in the United States?

  • Why did so many poor whites accept these new conceptions of race?

  • How did the Cherokee nation experience the growth of democracy for white people?

  • How did 19th century Mexican’s experience the expansion of democracy for white people?

  • How did the early 20th century Filipinos experience America’s civilizing presence?

  • Episode 3 – The House We Live In

  • How did early 20th century immigrants to the United States experience the racial ideology of the day?

  • What did it mean to be white in the early 20th century United States?  Is it merely a question of complexion?

  • How did the US Supreme Court understand whiteness when confronted with Japanese and Indian Americans?

  • Explain the racist legacy of the Federal Housing Administration.

  • What is ‘blockbusting’?

  • 500 word minimum, 20 points
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