Friday, November 16, 2018


“I have been a White Studies Major My Entire Life.” Reflections On A Peculiar Comment By A Student Of Mine.

October 23, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) There are things that my students say during my “call and response”lectures that are hilarious. I do my best not to laugh at their statements out of fear that such a reaction will serve as a significant obstacle to in our enlightening banter during vibrant class discussions. However, there are moments when I feel it is selfish to allow their statements to remain private as they would bring much laughter to a world that so desperately needs it.

Consider for a moment that after I referenced Richard Wright and James Baldwin in a lecture, a student raised her hand and asked,

  • Is James Baldwin the brother of Alec and Stephen Baldwin? You know, is he one of the Baldwin brothers.”

As an African-American Studies Professor, I take tremendous pride in my ability to infuse the black experience into even the “whitest” moments of American history. For example, when I touch on “the founding father” Thomas Jefferson, I interject his “relationship” with the enslaved Sally Hemings; a black woman who birthed several of Jefferson’s children — a historical fact despite what the white Jefferson clan maintains to this day.

The most delightful portion of the things that my students will say is that they are equally impromptu and unexpected. Years ago, as my students piled into the auditorium for yet another lecture, one mocha-colored young lady raised her hand prior to me uttering a single word and stated the following.

Dr. Jones, before I met you, I did not know anything about Black History. Now that I think about it, I have been a white studies major my entire life.”

For some reason, this young lady’s observation that she had been a “white studies major” until she encountered me, has remained in the deep recesses of my brain.

After recently pondering this whimsical assertion, it dawned on me that she was correct in her summation. I long ago settled on the reality that the standard K-12 educational curriculum exceeded my tendency to interject “black facts” to every historical situation and entered the realm of what can only be termed historical erasure of non-whites from the American historical narrative. The casualties of this indoctrination process surround us.

I will tell you that it is disheartening to encounter black folk of varying ages whose “education” did not include the unmistakable contributions of figures such as:

  • David Walker
  • Maria Stewart
  • Frederick Douglass
  • E.B. Du Bois
  • Huey P. Newton
  • Assata Shakur
  • Malcolm X
  • Kwame Ture
  • James Baldwin
  • Richard Wright
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Alice Walker

The fact that humans are beings who learn everything that they know; or at least what they think that they know, leads me to lament the constraining effects that a white studies curriculum has on the minds, thoughts, and imaginations of black people.

Long ago, Malcolm X advised Black America that “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children.” Now I do not want you to think that I am advancing an argument that white teachers are the enemy of black children as a teacher’s race or ethnicity is of supreme importance in this matter. It is not the educator, it is the curriculum that must be addressed in this battle. Every educator will tell you that their jobs are at risk if they deviate from the script that has been provided to them. End of the road standardized tests serve as the ultimate verifier that the students were indoctrinated with a narrative that invariably excludes blacks.

Instead of arguing about who is teaching their children, Black America would be better served if they focused on ensuring that the next generation of black students are not forced to be white studies majors like nearly all of those that preceded them.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

Official website; http://www.ManhoodRaceCulture.com

One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.


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