Oct 25 2008

African American Male Interaction

Category: diversityharmonicminer @ 9:03 am

Mike Adams describes a new college course called Effective Interactions With African-American Males.  Here’s the catalog description, and you can read his comments at the link:

Using an African-centered philosophical worldview and a racial socialization framework, this class will use participatory education to equip undergraduate and/or graduate students, to “better” understand and effectively work alongside and with young adult African-American men. The core tenets underlying this class are racial oppression exists, matters, is ubiquitous and pernicious and that those most affected are often ignorant of this reality.

Adams asks several questions about the course and its content, some funny, some tragic, and worth reading.

I have a couple of questions about it, too.

What, exactly, is an “African-centered philosophical worldview”?  Is this the philosophical version of the “out of Africa” theory of human origins, maybe?  Probably not.  But I wonder:  does an “African-centered philosophical worldview” include accounting for all the Africans who sold Africans to non-Africans during slave trading days, or were those Africans somehow less African than the Africans they sold?  Read it again:  you’ll figure it out.

The point, of course, is that “Afro-centrism” inevitably focuses almost exclusively on positive aspects of African heritage, whether real or imagined.  Do Afro-centric programs mention the less pleasant aspects of the heritage?  White European descended folk are constantly reminded of their cultural failings, the horrors of their history, etc.  How many African-Americans are really wired into the fact that their ancestors were sold into slavery by their ancestors?  Or that some blacks owned other blacks in America?

But I digress.

Shouldn’t this course be restricted in availability only to non-black-male students? That is, black women, and anyone of any other racial group would be allowed, but not black men. After all, young black males must all be alike in significant ways (the presupposition of the course), enough so that generalizations about them are true enough to make up the course content. So, since presumably these young black males already know all about being young black males, these young black males probably have no problem relating to OTHER young black males. It’s the REST of us that need to learn how to approach this unique demographic.

On the other hand, since the person most like to kill or injure a young black male is another young black male, perhaps ONLY young black males should be required to take the course?  Maybe if they learned how to interact with each other they might be less inclined to do violence to each other.  Does the course include self-defense instruction?

So many questions. Here’s more catalog copy on the course:

Students will critically examine the social and emotional effects of racism on academic, occupational, cultural and relational well-being of African-American males. Students will discuss relevant readings, media analysis, community-based research, and self-reflection. Students will also examine and develop strategies to restore a healthy definition of African-American manhood and its significance for self, family, and community relationships; culminating in a community restoration initiative proposal.

Hmm…  I think I would be called a racist if I suggested to anyone that “African-American manhood” needs to have a “restored definition” to rediscover (isn’t that implied in the word “restored”?) “significance for self, family, and community relationships”.  Isn’t the whole black identity thing supposed to mean that current inner-city norms are more “authentic” than dead white male traditions of marriage and family?  That marriage is just optional, and certainly not a requirement for starting a family?   Where does this racist professor get off in suggesting that there is anything wrong with current forms of African-American manhood?

And anyway, “restored” to what?  Is there some standard that has been lost?  Just what might that standard be?  Surely no one is intending to suggest that traditional black families are better than the current majority of fatherless families?  Isn’t that judgmental?  But it’s difficult to see what other meaning is in the word “restored”, since most black families DID have married fathers and mothers before the 1960s social welfare programs began to create our current “Great Society“.  And it IS really great, isn’t it?

I think this course would deeply offend me, if I was an African-American young male who didn’t buy into the “identity” garbage underlying this course, and thought I was just fine as an individual with individual characteristics, partly representing my own choices.  I know that I AM offended when anyone assumes anything in particular about me on the grounds that I am a white male.  I know  many blacks with whom I have more in common than many whites.  What ever happened to “the content of their character”?

This course seems to be racist on its face, implying that there is something so immutable about being a “young African-American male” that everyone else has to adjust to them, because they can’t or won’t adjust to anyone else.  It is, however, a logical extension of the diversity mania that has infected academia in all quarters.

Here is a book I don’t expect to find on the reading list for the course.  But it should be.


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