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: firstname.lastname@example.org