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University of Michigan Ann Arbor Racial Achievement Gap Essay


  • Topic wise for the paper, you need to discuss one of America’s pressing race problems. This can be police-citizen relations, discrimination in the labor market, minority candidates running for elected office, racial disparities in healthcare, felony disenfranchisement, disproportionate arrests between people of color and White Americans for marijuana possession, etc etc. The list goes on and on. Pick a specific question makes it much easier to write about in 5-7 pages. The broader the question, the harder it becomes to write about. Then the paper should have four sections. Open up a word document, and write these sections out as headers and underline them. And then organize your writing under each section. 
  • Section 1: Introduction and historical overview of the problem
    • Here you introduce the issue you are discussing. Tell us what is happening currently with the issue, and how it historically came to be. Consider spending 2-4 paragraphs here. 
  • Section 2: Literature review
    • Here, you should be outlining what the scholarly literature has found on this topic. You should be spending a bit of time before writing the paper searching google scholar and finding citations and papers that discuss your topic. Summarize and tell us what the literature has found. For example:
      • author1 (2019) finds that voter identification laws disproportionately burden minority voters; they reduce Latino turnout by X% in primary elections, and y% in general election. In another study, author2 (2021), evaluates this question but uses another method. There, the author finds that Black turnout was harmed in the Texas 2016 presidential election as a result of the strict voter ID law by Z% (author2, 2021).
    • This part is hard to write for those of you who do not have much experience writing a literature review, and I am happy to provide feedback to you before June 20. 
    • One big piece of advice: Do NOT include direct quotations from the author’s papers and put them in quotation marks. That is not using your own ideas to digest and summarize the literature, and will result in a 0 in this section.  
  • Section 3: Description and Presentation of Empirical Evidence
    • In this section, you should look for some data and figures that provide some empirical evidence as to the question that you are posing.
      • For example, if you are looking at voter identification laws, you must want to use the map from this link to show how many there are currently, and maybe Figure 2 from this link to show how the different types have varied over time. 
      • Another example, e.g. is there support for protests during the time of BLM protests? You could include the figure from this link.
    • Importantly, whatever source you use, make sure it is credible, e.g. Gallup, Roper, Pew, Newspapers, Academic articles all work. Facebook memes don’t work and are not empirical. Also, make sure you cite where you got the figure from. And, finally, discuss the results from the figures in the text of your paper and tell us how it connects with the question you are looking at. Use your own words and interpretations here. 
  • Section 4: Discussion of where the problem currently stands in the American sociopolitical context today.
    • This is a concluding section. Here, you tell us where the problem is at currently, what is being discussed in national conversation. Help us see what issues remain in the future as well. 


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