The purpose of the course was to use the past to help us better understand and talk about today by examining two clashing ideologies that were first formulated in the 17th and 18th centuries: All men are created equal, and inalienable rights. Racism and the creation of other-ness, used as a justification for slavery and the extermination of Native Americans and thereafter to limit rights and equality. We attempted to figure out: When has one of these conflicting ideas tended to prevail over the other, and why? How do different forces in society individuals, mass movements, institutions, economic structures, and government affect the development and strength of these opposing ideas? What makes people act in support of their beliefs? What makes them too frightened or apathetic to act to be bystanders? What is the connection between racial otherness and two other systems of oppression gender and class inequality?