How Does Race Shape American Life? (Summer 2021)
How Does Race Shape American Life? (Summer 2021)

"A child born to a Black mother in a state like Mississippi has exactly the same rights as a white baby born to the wealthiest person in the United States. It's not true, but I challenge anyone to say it is not a goal worth working for.”

–  Thurgood Marshall

**Special Note** A 15% discount on the course registration fee is available for alumni of the JET program and recipients of the Global Equity Forward newsletter. Please contact us directly ( for further details. 

Course Overview

2020 was a year of immense challenges, both global and local. The dual crises of the coronavirus pandemic and America’s reckoning with systemic racism has inspired individuals and entities to challenge and question how the world works and acknowledge the way unjust systems produce inequity across all aspects of life. Increased awareness in the public consciousness have led people to seek ways to be actors in the fight for racial justice. Many are looking for opportunities to learn more about these issues. However, spaces of inclusion, community, and connection where people from all backgrounds can feel safe to learn and work through personal thoughts and feelings about these issues are not easy to find or readily available. That is where this course can help!

Applying a sociological lens, this course examines how the history and identities of American racial groups impact their life prospects and outcomes. The goal is to provide a foundation for understanding and critically examining the events of 2020 (e.g. coronavirus pandemic, politics, policing, criminal justice, rise in violence against Asian Americans and the protests for racial justice). This sociological approach will illustrate how the historical social construct of race has significant and differential consequences for life outcomes across different racial groups. Uniquely, this course includes cross-cultural perspectives on these issues. American examples will be a jumping off point to explore how these phenomena and issues show up in nations and cultures around the world.    

In addition to the academic, this course is also an opportunity for personal exploration and community discussion of these issues. As an individual you will reflect on your own understandings and perspectives on these issues and work through how to incorporate and make sense of a sociological framework in the way you approach the world. By the end of the course, you will be a more critical consumer of information about the social world and feel more informed and empowered to engage in constructive discussions about these issues within your own spheres of influence.

It is important to note this course will cover controversial and potentially upsetting topics for which people have strong opinions. Every person is living with a racial (as well as a gender, sexual orientation, class, national, religious, etc.) identity that represents a relevant and vital perspective. A well-rounded  understanding of the world cannot be achieved without the participation and acknowledgement of all perspectives. We provide a judgement-free learning environment where participants can ask the uncomfortable questions, be vulnerable, and build connections with fellow participants as they create a community of support and encouragement in their journey. It will be challenging. This is not a class where we all need to agree at the end of the day. However, you will no longer be able to use lack of knowledge as an excuse for your words or actions.

By the end of the course, you will have explored and developed your "voice" and approach for constructively engaging others in discussions of these topics.

What You Can Expect 

  • Eight (8) virtual class meetings on Fridays 7 – 9:00PM EST from May 14 – July 9, 2021 (required)
  • Asynchronous exercises to deepen reflection and learning
  • Weekly Virtual Coffee Chats for questions and deepening discussion with course instructor (optional)
  • Weekly readings and materials to give you context in preparation for each class meeting
  • A community of peers giving support and encouragement in learning and exploration.

Who is the Audience for this Course?

All are welcome!! Join us from anywhere in the world. This course is open to anyone who wants to gain greater understanding of race in America! As a sociologist,  international education specialist, educator, and cross-cultural trainer, I am particularly excited to teach about issues of race and racial justice to all members of the global community.

Participants should be at least 18 years of age with a good command of English, as the lectures and discussions will be conducted in English. Your English does not have to be perfect, but you should be generally comfortable in conversation or listening to presentations in the language. Classes will be recorded and available for participants to review for greater understanding and comprehension.


"This course was a valuable experience, and I am so glad I participated. Mya covered topics and issues that I did not learn about during my childhood and public school education, so I am grateful I could learn about these issues later in life rather than never having a chance to learn about them in a class setting. Additionally, thanks to Mya’s wide networks, there was an excellent variety of students in the course who all brought different perspectives. It is a rare and special opportunity to get to take a course on the sociology of racism and systemic and structural racism with such a varied group of classmates."

"As I was born and grew up in Japan, I hadn’t studied about the history and the reality of ethnicity and race in the US. Even though I didn’t have enough confidence to share my thoughts in a class (mainly because of my English skill), I was thinking a lot and becoming emotional in every class. After every class, I had always shared what I learned from the class with my family to organize my thoughts. And one time, my mother was holding tears in her eyes and said she had no idea how terribly black communities have been discriminated. At the beginning of the course you told us that the one of the goals of this course is to get a confident and feel comfortable to talk about the racial issues with people. I still feel a bit scared to make misunderstandings when I talk about those topics but I am surely taking some steps that I started sharing my thoughts with my family and with my close friends. It is all thanks to you and the open minded discussion with the classmates. Taking this course definitely changed my mind. (It maybe is the only meaningful thing happened to me this year... during the time of pandemic."

About the Instructor

Mya is the Founder & Chief Executive Transformation Officer for Global Equity Forward, an international strategic consulting and advisory practice focused on equity and inclusion. She is a trained sociologist, who brings decades of combined expertise as a cross-cultural trainer, program development and management specialist, non-profit leader, international education and exchange professional, specializing in programming related to Japan and China. She identifies as a black woman who has greatly benefited from and been transformed by various international experiences. Mya’s career is rooted in a passion and commitment to equity in opportunity, respecting diversity, and fostering inclusion in all aspects of social life. 

Her teaching and training approach is grounded in sociological principles, with a focus on race and sociological social psychology. At the core of her work is creating spaces for people to ask the hard questions, find their “voice” to engage in these conversations and equips them to be active and critical thinkers who will contribute to the reimagining of societies grounded in principles of equity and inclusion. Mya’s unique international lens and excellence in cross-cultural communication, regularly attracts and engages people from around the world to her transformational learning offerings. Her vision of what the world can be and how we can all do better is informed by her faith in education and the power of people-to-people connections.

Mya is a proud alum of Williams College (B.A. Psychology and Sociology), New York University (M.A., International Education) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (M.S. and PhD, Sociology).

She lives in Northern Virginia with her fur babies, guinea pigs Ralphie and Magik. In her limited free time (even during the pandemic), she enjoys outdoor walks, watching movies and tv shows on all the streaming platforms, and talking with friends on the phone (yep, old school).

Photo Credit: Capturing Perfection Photography