African American Literacies

By Elaine Richardson | Go to book overview
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Dukin' it out with “the powers that be”: centering African American-centered studies and students in the traditional curriculum

To be educated in the next century will necessarily mean encountering the humanity of other people in both domestic and international cultures. This will involve much more than taking one or two “periphery studies” courses. It will require being knowledgeable of other cultures, struggles, achievements, aspirations, and ways of thinking. A truly multicultural education is not European Americans studying Europe or African Americans studying Africa and so on. The ideal is to study one's own culture, literature, and history as well as at least two others-one domestic and one international. It is possible to have a university in which no single historic group dominates the core experience. Under these circumstances, the university may become a much more dynamic and potentially unifying institution.

(Bowser 1995: xxii)

This chapter is a subjective reflection on the implementation of African American methodology into the traditional curriculum. This overview is offered to provide insight into the problems and pleasures of overcoming “the powers that be.” I offer a little herstory behind the course so that anyone who may want to design such a course will have an idea of the kinds of problems that may be encountered. Nobody told me it was going to be easy. Teaching the African American-centered rhetoric and writing course is clearly the most enjoyable experience I've had in the university. It was also the most real to me. It allowed me to be that teacher that I wanted and needed so desperately as a college freshwoman, someone who could point me toward the knowledge that I felt was relevant to my life. But now here I was and it was me against the world. The course was marginal on two accounts. First, it was experimental. Second, theoretically and pedagogically the body of knowledge centralized in the course is discredited knowledge. Finally, as a Black woman, I face issues of authority and credibility because of my race and gender.


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African American Literacies


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