For the First Time, Students at Michigan State Can Major in African American Studies

For the first time in Michigan State University history, undergraduate students can major in African American and African Studies. The department of African American and African studies was founded in 2019. The university has been offering a minor in African American studies since 2014.

Undergraduates selecting the new bachelor’s program will study Black feminisms, Black genders studies, and Black sexualities studies as well as social justice, performance, film, institutions, religion and spirituality, and more. Interconnected courses encourage students to appreciate the complexities of Black communities as well as the particularities of Blackness as it is lived, imagined, and created. Three concentrations are offered: Communities in Action; Creative Expression, Culture, and Performance; and Black Institutions, Sustainability, and Statecraft.

“Students want opportunities to make a positive difference, hold a critical thought, and radically imagine something needed but does not yet exist,” said Ruth Nicole Brown, the inaugural chair of the department. “Students want to know how they can contribute to change. They yearn for Black joy and educational spaces to dream out loud informed by active witnessing and intellectual curiosities demanding context for historical continuums of injustices and answers as to why systemic inequities persist. They want to know more about Blackness as diasporic belonging, as healing, expansive, and life-affirming. This new degree in AAAS answers that call.”

Dr. Brown, who holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan, is the author of Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood (University of Illinois Press, 2013) and Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward A Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy (Peter Lang International Publishers, 2008).

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  1. Hey Ruth,

    You are patently wrong on numerous front the so-called Black American students. If these so-called Black American students at Michigan State were seriously and truly ” yearn[ed] for Black joy and educational spaces” they would have matriculated at an HBCU. Regardless of this neoliberal and politically correct program, the so-called Black American students and Black faculty will continue to be treated as 2nd class citizens and relegated to one part of the MSU campus.

    Unfortunately, too many so-called Black Americans students who hail from the “Black middle and upper class” have been thoroughly miseducated (ok, misinformed) by their parents to believe that ‘White education” is better than anything received from an HBCU.

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