Saturday, February 27, 2021

Oregon State Offering Class Titled ‘African American Resistance in the Era of Donald Trump’

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*Among Oregon State University’s Winter 2017 schedule of classes is a new addition created in response to the November 8 presidential election.

“African American Resistance in the Era of Donald Trump,” to be taught by Dr. Dwaine Plaza, a professor of sociology and current Chair of the Sociology Program in the School of Public Policy, promises to give students a comprehensive look at how racism plays out in multiple areas.

“The goal of the course is to give students an understanding for how racism is deeply embedded in social media, movies, television shows, music, art, literature, and sport,” stated Plaza in an email sent to some Oregon State students last week announcing the new class, and obtained by Campus Reform.

In a statement to Campus Reform, Plaza said Donald Trump’s election fostered the need for such a course: “In my opinion we are about to step back into the 1960s when whiteness was currency and people of color needed to be in the shadows struggling for whatever trickles down to us.”

“This is one reason why our course is so important,” he said. “We need to lead our students on a journey to the past in order to gain a sense of purpose and resiliency for the future.”

Dwaine Plaza. Professor, Program Coordinator Sociology Program School of Public Policy
Dwaine Plaza. Professor, Program Coordinator Sociology Program School of Public Policy

Students will read two books chosen by Plaza “because they highlight resistance by African Americans to systemic and institutional racism”: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

According to a copy of the syllabus obtained by Campus Reform, the course will teach students about the “evolution of modern racism” from the post-emancipation period up to the election of Trump.

After taking the class, the syllabus says that students should “be able to deconstruct popular culture and critically assess the ways in which modern racism naturalizes the superiority of whiteness while at the same time denigrates African Americans.”

For extra credit, students are encouraged to attend local events that have “Race and Ethnic relations content” and submit a write-up of “how it changed [their] consciousness,” and may also earn bonus points by interviewing the director of the campus LGBTQ Center.

Students will also learn about The Black Panther Party, The Harlem Renaissance, and Racism in Oregon.

The class will be held from January 9 through March 17, according to the Oregon State course catalogue, and up to 20 students will be able to take the course, 17 of whom are already enrolled.

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