Topics for Further Study

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• Research the history of affirmative action and the role it plays in social policy today. Is affirmative action justified as a way of helping those who have been disadvantaged, or does it amount to “reverse discrimination?” Should it be continued or abolished? Partner with one other student and make a class presentation in which one person argues for affirmative action and the other argues against it.

• How can racism in schools be addressed? Write an essay about your own school and how such issues are tackled. Have you experienced or observed any racist behavior at your school? Are relations between students of different races at your school a problem? Do white students and students of color tend to sit apart from one another in the cafeteria? Is this is so, why does it happen? What can be done to improve the situation?

• Read another story in Packer’s collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere and compare it to “Brownies.” What role does race play in the story you have selected? Are there any parallels between the two stories? Write an essay comparing the two.

• With another student, select and interview one or more persons in your town or neighborhood who is of a different race. Ask how they feel about the topic of race and their experience with it. Try and draw them out and listen to their story. Then in a class presentation talk about your findings and draw some conclusions about issues of race generally in your school, neighborhood, city, or state.

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