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Black Studies: Still Indispensable After 40 Years

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black studiesA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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Like all things consciously Black in the age of “race neutrality,” Black Studies has been targeted for the irrelevancy file. “The truth is, Black Studies has always been in conflict with the powers-that-be, on campus and in the wider world.” Born of activism 40 years ago, Black Studies “leads to greater and more effective activism” - which makes the discipline dangerous to power and privilege.
 
Black Studies: Still Indispensable After 40 Years
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Those who have achieved power and inherited privilege through systemic racial oppression are the last ones to want to fund a discipline that examines past and present oppression.”
In 1968, the Black Student Union at San Francisco State University, in conjunction with other activists and faculty, demanded the establishment of a Black Studies Program. The next year, the Black Studies Program became a department. Forty years later, as many as 350 colleges and universities offer majors, minors and degrees in Black, African American, Africana and related studies, according to Dr. James Turner, of Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center.
Just like the movement and politics that it sprang from, Black Studies is under assault, as irrelevant in today’s times. The truth is, Black Studies has always been in conflict with the powers-that-be, on campus and in the wider world. It was born that way, out of a movement and a people that were trying to find a way out of their own oppression and the ills afflicting humanity at-large. Only fools and the enemy can claim that this mission has been accomplished, and that Black voices should stand down, in academia or anywhere else.
Black Studies grew out of Black activism, and when the discipline is done well, it leads to greater and more effective activism, while deepening our understanding of the global society. This is, by definition, dangerous to those who profit from the status quo and the lies that prop up privilege. Those who have achieved power and inherited privilege through systemic racial oppression are the last ones to want to fund a discipline that examines past and present oppression.
Hostile forces proclaim Black Studies to be an obstacle on the road to 'race neutrality.'”
Naturally, opponents of Black Studies have always tried to marginalize it as a kind of special dispensation unworthy of accreditation and resources. In the Age of Obama, hostile forces proclaim Black Studies to be an obstacle on the road to “race neutrality” – another way of saying that those who illuminate and struggle against a problem, are themselves the source of the problem.
In a society that is truly committed to social justice, Black Studies would be viewed in much the same way as the study of medicine, whose ultimate purpose is to promote the health of human beings and to combat the diseases that plague us. Medicine ameliorates human misery, and seeks ways to make possible the maximum fulfillment of life for the greatest number of people. So does the struggle for social justice and its academic arm, Black Studies.
Black Studies provides a unique prism through which to identify that which ails us in the United States, and beyond. When Black Studies is devalued, Black people are devalued and all of humanity is diminished.
Those who think we are already liberated and can now dispense with Black Studies, are the ones most in need of an education.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com. 

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Comments

Who is the apposition?

I agree with what you've written Mr. Ford, but after eading it, I am still left with the question of-Who exactly is it that you are targeting as those whom target Black studies as an achademic species that should be once and for all put to rest? Who are its apponents?
 
"In a society that is truly committed to social justice, Black Studies would be viewed in much the same way as the study of medicine, whose ultimate purpose is to promote the health of human beings and to combat the diseases that plague us."
I agree, but would add that in such a society, the study of the country's history would encompass a fair and equal account that would by it's true, unbiased nature include all the relevant particulars pertaining the Blacks, the Whites and the Reds. It is true that when we deny the true telling from the disperate perspectives that constitute the making of our Country; we engage in a (most often unconscious) devious pestulence otherwise known as self hatred. And by the very nature of segregated achademic studies i.e.; womens, mens, black, native, hispanic, gay, handycapt, political correctness etc., etc.; we grant a kind of permission to the public to pick and choose which version of the country's history we want to be cognisant of in order, possibly, to butress our individual or collective identity dilemas. 
I believe that we advocate and accept sepperation from oneanother in this country too often for idealogocal concerns to the detriment of really, wholey understanding what and who the hell we are as a nation. It amounts to achademisized intellectual segregation in my view.



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