Thursday, March 5, 2009

Whites teaching black studies

Article: Whites break new ground by teaching black studies by Dawn Turner Trice

Black scholars make up the majority of those teaching black studies- in a number disproportionate to the ratio of black to white scholars studying black studies. However, more and more white scholars are joining their colleagues to teach the subject, according to this article.

The article kicks off with a feature lead appropriate to a piece like this- less about hard news, per se, and more about people.

Shawn Alexander can recognize the look immediately. It's one of surprise when a student enters his African-American studies class and finds, standing at the front, a white guy.
While we have no idea who Shawn Alexander is, what he does or why he should care, the first sentence is ambiguous enough that it draws you in. The second sentence is effective in presenting the... well, maybe not irony, but certainly unexpected situation the students are confronted with.

Which makes you think. And wonder. Why do white scholars decided to study African-American studies? How are they received? What kind of reception have they had in the field?

The article answers all of those questions (which, at least for me, sprang immediately to mind just from the lede). It uses a variety of white scholars- their stories, their inspirations, and their decisions.


  1. This seems like a really cool article and the questions you posed are things I've often wondered myself. This definitely relates to a bigger issue in our society. I've heard people say that it is impossible for a white person to understand black culture because they've never experienced the hardships that black people have gone through. We also discussed in one of my classes if it's right for adoption agencies to try and match up kids with families of their own race. Some say that a black child with white parents might feel alienated and confused by his culture. I don't think this debate has been solved, but this article adds an interesting dimension to it.

  2. I thouroughly enjoyed reading this article! For starters, it was timely, since Black History Month has just ended. I agree that the lead was appropriate to the topic, and the kicker forced the audience to continue reading.

    Last week I had a similar reaction to students in the article. I attended a presentation on Islam, which was lectured by a caucasion woman. It seemed that everyone was a little tentative at first, since she wasn't Islamic. Also, many women are supressed in Jerusalem, which made us wonder why she would be giving the speech, since it was against what she was presenting. But at the end of the hour, we all knew that she was clearly well beyond qualified in her field.