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Posted on Sun, Dec. 04, 2005


Black studies departments take on new global focus
SFSU, OTHER SCHOOLS CHANGE NAME TO `AFRICANA STUDIES'
By Lisa M. Krieger and Becky Bartindale
Mercury News

As a black child growing up in America, Krystal Quinlan learned all about slavery, segregation and the civil rights movement.

But it didn't really hit home. The daughter of Caribbean immigrants ``grew up not really identifying with the history of African-Americans in the U.S.,'' she confesses.

Quinlan, now a 21-year-old Stanford University senior, is part of a new generation of students and professors who are extending their intellectual reach beyond the confines of '60s-era black studies courses to examine the influence of African cultures around the globe.

``When I look at the African diaspora, I see that we're all connected,'' said Quinlan, who is researching the role of Africans in South America. ``I realize that there is a commonality of experiences.''

The shift can be seen in curriculum name changes at academic departments around the country.

This year, San Francisco State University switched from ``Black Studies'' to ``Africana Studies.'' That appellation also has been adopted by Cornell and New York University. Indiana University now offers ``African American and African Diaspora Studies''; Rutgers, ``African Diaspora Field Study''; the University of Texas-Austin, ``African Diaspora Studies''; and Northwestern, a new ``Institute for Diaspora Studies.''

Interest at Stanford

At Stanford, where there is a longstanding commitment to African academics, ``there is a more serious engagement with Caribbean, Latin and South American cultures,'' said Lawrence Bobo, director of the African and African American Studies Program. There also is increased interest in African languages on Stanford's campus.

``It is about evolving -- reflecting where the discipline is today,'' said Dorothy Tsuruta, chair of San Francisco State's Africana Studies program.

``The term `Black Studies' specifically identifies with the United States alone,'' she said. ``It limits the reach of the field. Now, the discipline has matured to place the African-American experience in a global context.''

``Once you understand who you are and where you are, you get to a point where you want to understand your relationship to the world in which you live,'' she said.

Black studies emerged in the late 1960s, in response to student complaints that the African-American experience was not represented in the traditional disciplines.

But issues of race, class and gender are now better reflected in the classroom, scholars agree.

An even larger factor is the changing student body. Since 1990, more African immigrants have arrived in the United States voluntarily than the number who came as slaves before international human trafficking was outlawed in 1807. About 50,000 legal immigrants come each year.

``The timing can be attributed to immigration flows,'' said Stanford's Bobo. ``There are more people and more students from different backgrounds coming in to universities. So there are more scholars focusing on how the concept of race develops in other countries, and comparing it to the U.S.''

Notes Tsuruta: ``Look at France right now. If you close your eyes, it sounds just like Watts.''

Immigrants and children of immigrants made up 41 percent of the black student population at elite schools such as the University of California-Berkeley, Yale, Columbia, Duke and Northwestern in 1998, according to a study by Princeton University sociologist Douglas Massey. The proportion is believed to have climbed since then.

At San Jose State University, first-generation students from Nigeria, Ethiopia and Eritrea are helping revitalize the campus African-American studies program, said chairman Steven Millner.

The sons and daughters of these countries' immigrants ``are especially captivated by studying the connection between Africa and the American population,'' he said.

The faculty is changing, as well. Many who fought to establish black studies programs are reaching retirement age.

``The first generation of scholars in African-American studies is now being replaced by scholars whose breadth reflects the deepening appreciation of the connections between African, the Caribbean, South America and especially Brazil and the American black experience,'' Millner said.

Traditional programs

More traditional black studies programs still exist in many schools. But, said Keller of the University of California-Los Angeles, ``Where such departments exist, they tend to be considered as legitimate but small departments, not expected to grow.''

At state universities, recent belt-tightening means survival is an issue for small departments. At San Jose State, for instance, discussions are under way about how to strengthen the school's ethnic studies programs, perhaps by combining them.

Some African-American scholars are not convinced by the new global focus -- and say aging programs may not be worth saving.

``Black studies programs have been dysfunctional since their birth. They were created out of a reaction to student unrest. There was no academic imperative,'' said Shelby Steele, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. ``The experience of blacks could be much better examined in the traditional disciplines of history, literature and sociology.''

Millner said mainstreaming reflects the success of the African-American studies discipline. ``But it can't be a trivial appendage to some departments,'' he added. ``Otherwise it becomes irrelevant.''

He sees the new emphasis on the African diaspora as a sign of a healthy future -- and also a return to roots.

W.E.B. Du Bois, the father of black studies, ``was always an internationalist in his perspective,'' Millner said. ``In that, this is a return to the vision of the founder.''
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Call me paranoid.

The 'Africana......Studies' at the main campus of Penn State are becoming more an more about places other than the United States.

I recognized that the United States received 10 percent or less of the people taken out of Africa against their will.

I am fearful that these programs are now being driven by people who are not native-born Americans, and will steer the programs to serve their immigrant imperatives, AND leaving the basic need of American of unknown African ancestry unresolved.

I told the same to the Provost. I got a un-huh.

We need a 'standard bearer' curriculum to assure resolution, or attention, to Afrian Americans.

This may curriculum development.

It may also become ethnic neglect.

PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
The 'Africana......Studies' at the main campus of Penn State are becoming more an more about places other than the United States.


If it does go, does this university still have "African American" literature and/or "Black" Sociology. Many community colleges around our populations still hold onto these titles and will not be changed as readily as this one due to being an entirely different department. Many of our history ties in with that.
quote:
Originally posted by Dusty Elbow:
quote:
The 'Africana......Studies' at the main campus of Penn State are becoming more an more about places other than the United States.


If it does go, does this university still have "African American" literature and/or "Black" Sociology. Many community colleges around our populations still hold onto these titles and will not be changed as readily as this one due to being an entirely different department. Many of our history ties in with that.


Point taken.

I have to say, I don't know.' Penn State's main campus has 'W.E.B. DuBois Center' if found much to my surprise.

And, by the way, PSU is my alma mater.


PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
Originally posted by ma'am:
I love the idea of a Black studies program that acknowledges that there are many Blacks around the world with various histories and impacts.


Me too.

I am truly concerned that the program intended to inform on and advance African America and the needs of African American-Americans is being, will be, subverted into a politically-driven propoganda-base turning the minds of our youth away from their heritage to augment that political agenda.

PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:
quote:
Originally posted by ma'am:
I love the idea of a Black studies program that acknowledges that there are many Blacks around the world with various histories and impacts.


Me too.

I am truly concerned that the program intended to inform on and advance African America and the needs of African American-Americans is being, will be, subverted into a politically-driven propoganda-base turning the minds of our youth away from their heritage to augment that political agenda.

Sadly, we still have not achieve the stability of an identity.

We are still 'fair game' for anyone who wants to manipulate us.

I think that is what is happening with this program.

These guiding influences will have believing tha 'black' is who we are, and Africa is our ancestral nationality.

PEACE

Jim Chester
let be real, Africans in America are but a small part of the African diaspora, until we look at it in a more globally context we will never be able to address our needs. There is nothing wrong with a Pan African approach to African Studies, just because it takes africans in america out of center stage doesnt mean we will be forgotten, no matter how you put it Africans in america play a pivital role in the over all develpment of african studies\but so does the carribean, central and sout america, france, london as well as the continent of africa. We have to look at things in context. We are in a global society and until we look at ourselves as a part of a larger african group we will never liberate ourselves and will be stuck in tribal notions of identity
quote:
Originally posted by ZAKAR:
let be real, Africans in America are but a small part of the African diaspora, until we look at it in a more globally context we will never be able to address our needs.

African America's needs are what I interpret the term 'our needs' to be addressing.

The needs of African America are not global, gut rather very local to African America.


There is nothing wrong with a Pan African approach to African Studies, just because it takes africans in america out of center stage doesnt mean we will be forgotten, no matter how you put it Africans in america play a pivital role in the over all develpment of african studies\but so does the carribean, central and sout america, france, london as well as the continent of africa. We have to look at things in context.

That sounds really convoluted to the original intent of African American Studies.

That is why I said the change you are talking about seems to be driven by persons who may be of African ancestry, but not of African American heritage.

The focus of the nation's colleges is been direct away from African America.

These are the people who say you are not African American, but rather simply African.

You have no ancestral naltionality. Yes, we know everyone else in the world does, but can't you see you don't need one.

Just being African is enough for you.

I have a rebuttal to that but the language is banned on this site.

African America is for African Americans


PEACE

Jim Chester

We are in a global society and until we look at ourselves as a part of a larger african group we will never liberate ourselves and will be stuck in tribal notions of identity
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:

'They' is all those who would, and some are trying, to diminish the standing of African America in African American Studies programs in our educational institutions.


Who does that?

It's nearly impossible to diminish African-Americans in African-American Studies.

It's non-African-American contributions to African-American culture and history that are at times skirted. Especially on the elementary level.

I'm all for more inclusiveness when it comes to Black Studies, though. African-Americans don't have the monopoly on Blackness.
quote:
Originally posted by ma'am:
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:

'They' is all those who would, and some are trying, to diminish the standing of African America in African American Studies programs in our educational institutions.


Who does that?---ma'am

The 'they' includes European-Americans, program faculty members who are immigrants, and Americans of unknown African ancestry who are of low self-esteem.

It's nearly impossible to diminish African-Americans in African-American Studies.---ma'am

I would hope that is true.

It's non-African-American contributions to African-American culture and history that are at times skirted. Especially on the elementary level.---ma'am

I did not think of including K-12.

I would be interested in some examples of 'non-African American' contributions.


I'm all for more inclusiveness when it comes to Black Studies, though. African-Americans don't have the monopoly on Blackness.
---ma'am

Which asks the question, 'Are 'black studies' and 'African American Studies' the same thing? I think not.

Inclusiveness is the antithesis of ethnicity which represents uniqueness.

If 'black' is to be inclusive, do it.

Include all those people in the world who are defined by themselves or anyone else as 'black'.


PEACE

Jim Chester
I hope you didnt interpret what I said as wanting to deminish African Americans in the African American Studies Department because it couldnt be further from the truth. I just simply state that just by ignoring our history before we came to the US is not gonna help anyone, and wanting to isolate our problems here in America as local when its all in a global context. Epecially with the type of Economy the World is moving into. It would be much benifical to teach our children all our history as African people here in America. to emphasize one part and deemphasize another part wont help us to address our problems. Those pioneers who started the blacK studies movement had a focus on africa and our africaness as well as our contributions here in the US
Those pioneers who started the blacK studies movement had a focus on africa and our africaness as well as our contributions here in the US---ZAKAR

You are more likely to be right about that than I in that I have never had a course in that program.

Still I would have thought those programs would have been first focused on African America, then the relationship with the history related to Africa.


PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:
Who is "they"?---Fagunwa

'They' is all those who constantly tell us we wrong to claim African America, and not limit ourselves to Africa.

'They' is all those who would, and some are trying, to diminish the standing of African America in African American Studies programs in our educational institutions.

'They' know who 'they' are.


PEACE

Jim Chester



They are everyone who doesn't agree with you. Because someone does not share your opinion they must want to "diminish african americans". Perhaps some of "us who are "they" just have a different opinion than you do and wish you no diminished status or harm in any way.
quote:
Originally posted by ZAKAR:
let be real, Africans in America are but a small part of the African diaspora, until we look at it in a more globally context we will never be able to address our needs. There is nothing wrong with a Pan African approach to African Studies, just because it takes africans in america out of center stage doesnt mean we will be forgotten, no matter how you put it Africans in america play a pivital role in the over all develpment of african studies\but so does the carribean, central and sout america, france, london as well as the continent of africa. We have to look at things in context. We are in a global society and until we look at ourselves as a part of a larger african group we will never liberate ourselves and will be stuck in tribal notions of identity


appl appl appl
I don't want to be rude to an elder, but the posts that I read from you as of late JWC show a level of ignorance and self hate I didn't know you had.

You really have displayed a repulsive us/them mentality when it comes to the African diaspora. Divide and conquor goes beyond the plantation. Are you even concerned about our liberation?

I'm one of those Africans born in Amerikkka that also fits the description of the 'they' you referred to... I hope you aren't suggesting that because I don't agree with your opinions that I want to 'diminish' myself?

Africans in Amerikkka are not the center of the African world and the educational system needs to reflect that. IMO this 'fear that African Amerikkans have of being 'minimized' is a symptom of the sickness we have picked up by living under Western oppression for so long... It's called 'American arrogance'.
quote:
Originally posted by Oshun Auset:
I don't want to be rude to an elder, but the posts that I read from you as of late JWC show a level of ignorance and self hate I didn't know you had.

You really have displayed a repulsive us/them mentality when it comes to the African diaspora.

It is curious that you are interpreting my insistence on 'identity and ethnicity' as an 'us-them mentality'.

That is my primary, if not only, insistence.

It's repulsivity is a 'eyes of the beholder' issue. It (being repulsive) certainly isn't my intent.

I do work to be clear.

I must admit, however, I do not work at 'being liked'. I tried that years ago. It didn't work, and besides that kind of approach can get one accused of 'Tomin'.

I would really appreciate an expansion on the 'ignorance and self-hate' you perceive.

I work daily to make sure I don't pass on any of the legacy of The DeGruy-Leary Effect. Your input can be helpful.


Divide and conquor goes beyond the plantation. Are you even concerned about our liberation?

Define 'liberation'. From what to what? And how.

I'm one of those Africans born in Amerikkka that also fits the description of the 'they' you referred to... I hope you aren't suggesting that because I don't agree with your opinions that I want to 'diminish' myself?

I rushed back to find my use of 'diminish'. I typically use it in in terms of action against my interest. I found this:

'They' is all those who would, and some are trying, to diminish the standing of African America in African American Studies programs in our educational institutions.'

I recall having referred to someone subordinating their ancestral nationality for the sake of, or just to, 'fit in'.

I do think that is diminishing one's self.


Africans in Amerikkka are not the center of the African world and the educational system needs to reflect that. IMO this 'fear that African Amerikkans have of being 'minimized' is a symptom of the sickness we have picked up by living under Western oppression for so long... It's called 'American arrogance'.


I don't think your reference of 'Africans in America' is the same as my reference of 'African Americans', but without belaboring that, I'm sure we will each know where our respective references are applicable.

You may be right. That 'fear' may indeed be a consequence of experience in American society.

African Americans are not the center of the African world, agreed.

Educational programs, and systems, can reflect that African America in not the center of the African of the African World.

African American Studies, however, are the center of African American Studies.

I rebel at the effort to teach our children, yours and mine, otherwise.

By the way, never let the fact that I am 'an 'old dude' get in the way of free exchange.

Wrong is still wrong.

Right is still right.


PEACE

Jim Chester
From what I've seen most schools that offer African-American studies, tie it in with African studies. Medgar Evers College offers a degree in Caribbean studies, the only time I've ever seen it. They don't ironically offer a degree in African/African American studies.
However, I believe that the courses should include all places where Africans were brought to be enslaved and the history of African nations and kingdoms. One should know each others history and culture in the African Diaspora. But African-American history can be taught at home by family before college, as was the case with me.
But African-American history can be taught at home by family before college, as was the case with me.---Yemaya

There is no reason to relegate African American history 'to the home'.

It is confounding that there is always a ready willingness to 'jump in the back seat'.

African American Studies programs were initiated to put our ethnicity on a par with the other ethnicities of world. It was not done to simply be 'just anouther history course'.

By the way, Caribbean Studies is as worthy a subject for degree status as any other geographically-based degree.

I have a problem with such a degree being used to subordinate African American Studies. African American is not an extension, or derivative of Caribbean societies.

And this is acknowledging the fact that Caribbean islands were used to be resistance out of Africans 'in transit' as it were.

To do this is to say there is only so much academic space that can be alloted of people of African ancestry.

African America is separate and distinct entity developed out of its own 'history and circumstance'.


PEACE

Jim Chester
I'm not saying that it shouldn't be taught in school, but I'm saying that back in the day when I was a youngster, I was taught at home and through the church. And yes it can be taught at home. Just like with other cultures who pass on their heritage at home and through their communities. I think that we have a special interest in this curriculum development because many of our ancestors were crucial to the development of this country.
I'm not saying that it shouldn't be taught in school, but I'm saying that back in the day when I was a youngster, I was taught at home and through the church. And yes it can be taught at home. Just like with other cultures who pass on their heritage at home and through their communities. I think that we have a special interest in this curriculum development because many of our ancestors were crucial to the development of this country.---Yemaya

I agree with you.

African American heritage should be taught in the home, and the church, etc.

And with that African American Heritage should not be made subordinate, in academia, to the study of any other culture to the extent that it loses its singular and direct study on its own.


PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:

I don't want to be rude to an elder, but the posts that I read from you as of late JWC show a level of ignorance and self hate I didn't know you had.

You really have displayed a repulsive us/them mentality when it comes to the African diaspora.

It is curious that you are interpreting my insistence on 'identity and ethnicity' as an 'us-them mentality'.

That is my primary, if not only, insistence.

It's repulsivity is a 'eyes of the beholder' issue. It (being repulsive) certainly isn't my intent.

I do work to be clear.

I must admit, however, I do not work at 'being liked'. I tried that years ago. It didn't work, and besides that kind of approach can get one accused of 'Tomin'.

I would really appreciate an expansion on the 'ignorance and self-hate' you perceive.


I'll do a furhter expose on that subject later(I'm short on time), but the attack on another thread stating something like the idea that you don't have an urge to reunite with 'those wo sold you' while you simultaneousely don't seem to have a problem being in a land controlled in every way by those who 'bought and exploited and continue to exploit and oppress us' is an example.

I couldn't give a damn who likes me either, especially over the internet.

quote:
I work daily to make sure I don't pass on any of the legacy of The DeGruy-Leary Effect. Your input can be helpful.

Divide and conquor goes beyond the plantation. Are you even concerned about our liberation?

Define 'liberation'. From what to what? And how.


The ending(or minimization of) systematic oppression and exploitation of African people globally(and eventually all of humanity) by having complete control of our environment and self determination, politically, economically ect. Which of course would include a unified land base(Africa).

quote:
I'm one of those Africans born in Amerikkka that also fits the description of the 'they' you referred to... I hope you aren't suggesting that because I don't agree with your opinions that I want to 'diminish' myself?

I rushed back to find my use of 'diminish'. I typically use it in in terms of action against my interest. I found this:

'They' is all those who would, and some are trying, to diminish the standing of African America in African American Studies programs in our educational institutions.'

I recall having referred to someone subordinating their ancestral nationality for the sake of, or just to, 'fit in'.


I do think that is diminishing one's self.


Fitting in? How about for the larger purpose of our global liberation?
Fitting in? How about for the larger purpose of our global liberation?---Oshun Auset

I see 'global liberation' as you term it being a parity relationship among the people, the ethnicities, of the world.

'black' will not do that. 'Africa', continentally not the nations, will not do that.

Our ethnicity as African Americans will do that.

AND...that ethnicity will provide the foundation for a healthy relationship with the nations of Africa.

For me, that is (global) liberation.

All the 'other stuff' can now follow and be viable.


PEACE

Jim Chester

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