Race is arguably the most significant social category shaping the fabric and trajectory of American life and yet, one of the most poorly understood and eagerly avoided topics in our public consciousness. In this course, we will examine paradigms for understanding race in both academic and popular contexts. Using theoretical constructs, historical case studies, contemporary topics in politics and culture, and empirical research on racial attitudes and disparities, this course explores questions such as: what are the racial boundaries that shape our lives? Where did they come from, how have they changed over time, and how are they continuing to evolve? Whose interests do they serve? In contrast with discussions of race that focus solely on the hypervisibility of minoritized raced bodies, we will pay particular attention to the construct of whiteness and the everyday rhetoric that equates whiteness with racelessness. We will also draw on news and current events to observe and analyze the ways that racial boundaries and the social meaning of race impacts public policy and public debate. Although this course will focus on the American context, we will examine a few case studies from other societal contexts for a comparative view of how racial boundaries serve to reinforce other social hierarchies.