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, from academic conferences to activist conferences to community groups, as well as in my teaching at my community college:
- I’m currently working on a book project (under contract with Routledge) titled Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox, which is an introductory guide for college students in various disciplines as well as the general reader about race and systemic racism, with tools for action.
- 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 in the US and the power of the media and other systems in shaping 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.
- I recently 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) hosts 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, and then I’ll co-facilitate the course with another member again in fall 2017 for a new 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 the community organizations I volunteer with, including the Hunterdon County Anti-Racism Coalition, the new Central Jersey Community Coalition I helped develop, NORWESCAP, and the Social Action Collective at RVCC.
- 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 Modern Language Association, Critical Race Theory conferences at both Yale Law School and UCLA Law School, and the Working Class Studies Association.
- I created this Prezi on “The Social Construction of Race, Systemic Racism, and Health Disparities” for a presentation at Rutgers University on July 9, 2015 as part of the Summer School of Addiction Studies through the Center for Alcohol Studies.
- These are videos of a few projects I’ve been involved in:
- RVCC Beyond the Image (a project at Raritan Valley Community College about micro-inequities, August 2014)
- “Rednecks, Asian Overachievers, and Illegals: How American Culture Divides and Conquers” (a research presentation at RVCC, April 2014)
- “Are Rednecks the Last Racists?” (a research presentation at RVCC, February 2014)
- This a link to a radio interview I did while in Saratoga Springs, NY to speak at “The Unfinished Business of Martin Luther King, Jr.” weekend (Jan. 17-18, 2016). This interview focuses on systemic racism, mass incarceration, Meta Theatre Company, and more. The text of my speech is on my blog here.
Email me with comments or questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org