The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and the less publicized transman Tony McDade at the hands of the state represents a long-standing, brutally racist tradition that is as American as the U.S. anthem itself. The “Star-Spangled Banner,” for instance, informed us that Black subordination was embedded in the nation’s founding, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” Indeed, two centuries after the anthem was penned, post Emancipation, post Reconstruction, post Jim Crow, post the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, the Civil Rights era, the Black Power Movement, and various Black feminist and Black queer movements, a nation that celebrates whiteness is still unable to imagine Black life and livability. Consequently, Black people are still facing “the gloom of the grave.” In this way, the justified anger and hurt displayed in the current protests are as much about George Floyd as they are about the countless names of Black people that are too numerous to fit in this short statement. More still, the protests are about the structural ways in which anti- Black racism and white supremacy persistently work to make Black life unlivable.
The African American and African Diaspora Studies Program is a vibrant program in the Department of Interdisciplinary, Gender and Ethnic Studies, a unit of the College of Liberal Arts. Students may major or minor in African American and African Diaspora Studies.
The program is designed to provide students with the social, cultural, literary, and historical knowledge for a critical understanding of the effects of local and global anti-blackness and black people's response to it. The program is built around a core of courses that systematically document critical aspects of the Afro-American experience from its antecedents in antiquity to the prominent issues of the present day.
Engaging both past and contemporary aspects of this experience provide students access to materials and events that have historically not been given adequate treatment, and allows students to contextualize current issues relating to black people in an academically critical way. The program is also designed to effectively prepare students who desire to continue on to graduate work in Africana Studies.