Capital and Captivity: African Americans and the U.S. Economy


  • LaToya Brackett University of Puget Sound


Online Learning, Institutionalized Racism, African Americans, Black Americans, Economics, College Courses,


In the summer of 2020, I revamped an old course for online learning. There were two pandemics going on, COVID-19 and the violence against Black Americans. With a heightened awareness in the U.S. I decided to offer a course that students would find direclty related to and informative of their current realities. This course was designed to be both an introduction and a deep dive into the interconnectedness of African Americans and Capitalism within the United States. Capitalist ideologies are continually at the foundation of the captivity (oppression) of African Americans. Emphasis was on the ways in which African Americans have financed the capitalist gains in this country, and the ways that capitalism in the U.S. has harmed African Americans. Capitalism feeds many of the industries that are the necessities of life—healthcare, education, job and food security—are more accessible to some than all, and one's status within the U.S. economy is a major determinant. This inequity becomes very apparent during national emergencies. This course focused on the economic intricacies within U.S. systems, and used a social impacts approach to engage with the inequity of the U.S. economy. Major areas of economic oppression that were covered included: The Slave Trade & U.S. Slavery, Mass Incarceration (free labor), Education (Student Loan Debt), Sports and Music (Black culture/White Ownership), Housing policies (Redlining/Blockbusting), Medical Industry (Health Advancements/Black Bodies), Drug Industry (Marijuana), Lottery (The Numbers), and Pandemics and Natural Disasters (Hurricane Katrina & Covid-19). Major course resources were excerpts from prominent texts, articles, and various media.

Author Biography

LaToya Brackett, University of Puget Sound

Assistant Professor of African American Studies


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