James Madison University will be offering a course this spring which examines Black Lives Matter’s strategies in “defend[ing] human rights in the era of a New Jim Crow.”
The course, “Special Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies,” will focus on BLM and feature debate topics on “mass incarceration and justice reform; the media dismissal of Black Lives Matter in favor of focus on ‘black on black’ crime; black rage and the politics of respectability, [and] black joy in the face of oppression.”
According to the JMU student paper The Breeze, instructor Beth Hinderliter, a professor of “cross disciplinary studies,” will collaborate with other professors and their respective classes “to interconnect students on the topics of activism, racism and politics.”
One of these profs, Matthew Ezzell whose own American contemporary culture course focuses on “the construction of whiteness and Black Lives Matter,” said that “These are issues that affect all of us. These are issues that affect the entire nation, and it is important to have a space to critically examine them.”
A.J. Morey, associate provost for the Office of Cross Disciplinary Studies and Diversity Engagement, helped Hinderliter establish the course at JMU. She discussed why she found it important to have a contemporary class offered next semester.
“We’re living in a time of great civil unrest and issues of racial injustice have not been resolved,” Morey said. “Sometimes, a course like this can help bring understanding to both sides, so it’s better to talk about it than to just refuse to talk about it at all.”
[Hinderliter’s] already received pushback from students about the class, including emails sent from some students asking why there’s not a white lives matter course being offered as well. Despite the resistance, Morey said students will still benefit from this course and learn about allyship.
“It’s not as easy as it sounds, and may also have their awareness deepened of the ways in which class and race and gender cause division in our culture,” Morey said. “Education is more than a paycheck — it’s about becoming a more decent human being. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t decent now, it just means there are always ways we can learn and grow.”
So, accepting the narrative of Black Lives Matter is now about “becoming a more decent human being.”
h/t to Rachel Frommer.
IMAGE: Teacher Dude/Flickr