This course sets out in pursuit of answers to two questions: How have race and racism shaped and influenced American law? and How has American law shaped and influenced what we understand by “race” and “racism”? The reader may have noticed that in the first question the terms race and racism appear without quotation marks; this is because they are positioned as if they were prior to law and constituted either by natural or social facts that exist somehow prior to law. They are, however, problematized by the second question, because that question hypothesizes that, in some sense, the content of these terms is determined by their intersection with law. In this course, we will set out to understand the complex relationship between race, racism, and law. Our approach will be first definitional, then historical, and then topical. We will begin by considering what is meant by “race,” how definitions of the term have changed over time in the United States, and how we should think about race and races today. We will then move chronologically from the colonial period to the Civil Rights Era, in order to examine how race was used to naturalize the legal and political subjugation of particular social groups and how the identities of these groups have been shaped, if not established, by governmental and social practices that were rationalized, afforded and endorsed by law. Once we enter the post-Civil Rights Era, we will organize our class sessions around topical themes involving problems with which American law and culture continue to engage.