About Me

My name is Karen Gaffney, and I’m a Professor of English at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in New Jersey. I’ve been teaching composition and electives on race and gender there since 2003. I have a PhD in English from the University of Delaware (2003), where I studied Critical Race Theory and contemporary literature.

I’ve shared my approach to anti-racism in a variety of locations, including academic conferences, activist conferences, community groups, my teaching at my community college, and, now, in my book Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox:

  • Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox is an accessible introduction to race and racism with tools for action, aimed at students and general readers alike. (See the tab “My Book” for more info.)
  • For more than ten years, I have been teaching a class I designed at my community college called “Race in American Literature and Popular Culture,” where we explore the history of race and racism in the US and the power of the media and other systems in shaping a racial ideology. My Recommended Resources page includes several relevant sources and follows my approach. We conclude with a social action assignment so that students can apply what they’ve learned and take action.
  • In 2016, I adapted this course on race for the community as a free course open to the public. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills (in Somerville, NJ) hosted it, and it includes discussion of assigned readings that analyze the history of race and systemic racism in the US and how this racial ideology continues into the present. The public course officially ran from October 2016 to April 2017, but we decided to continue to meet monthly to build on our work, and we still meet monthly, well into 2018. I then co-facilitated the course in a 5-session version and a 1-session version in Fall 2017, and several of those participants have now joined the monthly meetings of the original group.
  • In Spring 2017, I taught this college course on race at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in NJ as part of the Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts that RVCC offers at several prisons in NJ.
  • I also apply my work on anti-racism to my role as a steering committee member or board member of several community organizations, including the Hunterdon County Anti-Racism Coalition, the Central Jersey Community Coalition, and NORWESCAP.
  • In addition to sharing my work through various workshops in the community, I’ve also presented my work at Netroots Nation, the White Privilege Conference, the Association for Ethnic Studies, the American Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, Critical Race Theory conferences at both Yale Law School and UCLA Law School, and the Working Class Studies Association.

Email me with comments or questions at: dividednolonger@gmail.com

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5 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Pingback: Panel on Systematic Racism at Northampton Community College | working class studies association

  2. I feel so very blessed that Spirit lead me to your work. Everything that you said in the article that I read online titled: Dismantling the Racism Machine A manual and tool box” I have said, felt and embodied my entire life. I am 63 years old and looking forward to retirement and with our new president in office I have encountered problems that I never dreamed that I would be exposed to at this point in life. I look forward to your book being released and i will be one of the first ones in line to purchase it. I am posting your article on facebook and doing everything that I can to promote the “Truth that You speak” Blessings always. Charles L. Griffin, Schaumburg, Illinois.

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  3. I came across your information through reading Susan Grigsby’s Kos diary ‘coincidentally’ (!) after an in depth, angst filled conversation with a friend about Ta Nehisi Coates’ latest essay. I was feeling absolutely hopeless about the very future of this country given how wildly successful the oligarch elite have been in dividing the rest of us on race since electing ‘the first white President.’ Reading about you & your work has been the antidote I was desperately needing and I want to first thank you so much for all you are doing. I live in Colorado but would so like to make the trip to NJ attend your community class this fall. I’m wondering if you’ve ever considered training others to teach this class so that your amazing, crucial work can reach even more folks & especially white progressives like myself who so desperately need this information & these tools to start the hard work of eradicating this horrible fake concept of race. I for one would sign up in a heartbeat! For now I’ll be digging deep into your website, eagerly anticipating your book, and checking for updates about when your next community class will be held. And I so look forward to meeting you someday soon, shaking your hand & expressing my appreciation in person.

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    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate your comments. I’m hoping that when my book comes out, it can support the anti-racist discussion and action groups that exist (and even prompt new ones) to raise awareness about the false ideologies we’ve been taught and take action to dismantle white supremacy and systemic racism in our systems. The fifth chapter of the book is devoted to specific strategies for that work. Also, conferences like Facing Race (fall 2018) and the White Privilege Conference (spring 2017) are great ways to learn more and connect with people doing this work.

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