I’ve been working on developing a research guide on African American History. The guide specifically focuses on general African American history, as well as touches on some of the current social issues we are facing with discrimination in the USA. While going through, I couldn’t help but to reflect on my own educational experience. In high school, I was never really exposed to African-American history (at least, not as much as I should have been). Yes, we discussed the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Even worse was the implication that, as a result of the civil rights movement, any issues surrounding race were solved. While at Duquesne, I have been able to have the discussions I never experienced before undergrad—especially in the class I had my freshman year with Dr. Speese. Two works that we read that stood out to me were Citizen by Claudia Rankine and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Both open the doors phenomenally for a discussion on race that has taken place in the past and the one that is happening in the present (Go read both of them. Coates’ book made me cry, in a good way). Based on those texts, we were able to have thoughtful discussions on the bias history has, and the continuous need for social justice.
I couldn’t help but think about how I never had that foundation in African-American history and culture before college. I also began to think about how dangerous it is for people to overlook such an important part of history. In one of the videos I included in the guide, a professor discusses how US history (or, at least, what we see as being the “typical” US story) is dependent on African American history, and vice versa. It’s all a part of why our society functions the way it does. Needless to say, I’m really excited that I get to be a part of exploring African American history, and to be a part of the process to formulate a guide that will help to inform my colleagues about an important subject.
Quote o’ the Post:
“You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine.” -Ta-Nehisi Coates