At American University, they’re investing in safety.
In the name of protection, AU’s added a black-only option to its required racism-discussion class, AUx2.
As reported by campus outlet The Eagle, the freshman course’s new iteration comes courtesy of occurrences last year:
In the spring and summer of 2020, a group of black peer facilitators began advocating for a black affinity AUx2 section and were instrumental in its implementation, providing their input at monthly meetings…
The provision of a race-exclusive version isn’t much of a stretch.
Per the outlet:
AUx2 is a course that all first-year students are required to take that examines race and racism — primarily anti-blackness…
The class probes how such prejudice “is manifested in socially constructed systems of power.”
[I]t also covers the intersectionality of race with other forms of oppression, as well as conversations on privilege and levels of access.
These days, oppression is a trending topic of choice.
James Madison University recently made student workers undergo injustice education.
The “antiracism” lessons leveled that straight white Christian males — for instance — oppress minorities of non-Christian faith.
And in July, a Penn State professor told a white student that, if he left his house that day, he “may have suppressed somebody.”
As a society, we’ve significantly switched gears.
We haven’t merely moved to pursue unity differently; it seems we’ve decided unity shouldn’t be a goal.
As was done during the 1940’s — and, oddly, in the late 1700’s — we’re categorizing people according to color.
One’s shade of skin, it’s being asserted, is monumental.
Such perspective resulted in a seminary school leader telling students the following:
“Folks might be curious about, ‘Why would I wanna talk about race with only white folks? So, I can tell you a little bit about my own experience in white caucuses. And that’s that it creates a space where we can really grapple with our whiteness and how we’ve been socialized in a way that does not harm our colleagues and co-students of color.”
That incident — at Princeton — calls to a new virtue on a roll as of late: safety.
Speaking to The Breeze, American senior Zoë Washington hailed a lack of harm:
“Myself and other peer facilitators, especially black peer facilitators and black students, saw a need for a safe space for black first-year students and transfer students.”
Course program manager Izzi Stern, who worked closely with advocates, said the black-only rendition of the anti-black analysis makes it easier to endure:
“We’ve definitely heard from black students and other students of color that the material can be a lot for them because it is part of their lived experiences. And we wanted to create a space where they could be together in community and have an overall positive experience with the course.”
Last year, student Julien Hector originally enrolled in the general AUx2.
But he dropped it in favor of the black-only variant.
The guy loved it:
“One thing that I loved about the class was the community that it built. Having an all-black space truly changes the way you interact in that space and the level of comfort you feel.”
Julien doesn’t know why other nonwhite races don’t do the same:
“Why don’t other minority groups get to have that experience? Because it’s not just black people that experience racism and that need affinity groups for these conversations because all people of color face that same experience we go through.”
Zoë agrees: “There’s not just the black experience versus the non-black experience.”
Arthur Stallworth — an instructor for the black-only course — would like to see it get a happy ending for all the black people who’ve been racially wronged:
“I would’ve wanted to find different ways to incorporate black joy more to comeback to the trauma we encounter.”
As I sad, safety’s the name of the game.
AU’s on top of it — in more than one way:
My black friend who was just accepted into American University was sent an ad from the school’s Center of Diversity & Inclusion, offering “Black Affinity Housing” — newly renovated dorms for black students to “affirm their identities”
— Olivia Rondeau 🇺🇸 (@rondeaulivia) August 9, 2021
More surely will follow:
— Forbes (@Forbes) August 15, 2021
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