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University of Oklahoma English course to focus on ‘Black Power’

The University of Oklahoma is offering an English course this semester focused on “Black Power.”

The course will center on the cultural and political agendas of the “Black Arts” and “Black Power” movement from the 1960s to today with an emphasis on progressive agendas such as “the rise of the Prison-Industrial Complex and the #BlackLivesMatter movement,” its online description states.

“In our discussions, we focus on the cultural exchanges and intellectual engagements between the local struggles for civil rights and the larger global movements for decolonization,” it states.

The class at the Norman, Oklahoma-based public institution is taught by Associate Professor Rita Keresztesi, who is white, but whose CV indicates she is an expert in various topics facing African Americans and African diaspora.

Keresztesi did not respond to a request from The College Fix seeking comment.

Students who take the course will be required to “read and critically engage with a variety of literary, historical, and other cultural texts, including film and music,” its description states.

Professor Keresztesi is also an author. Her recent books include “Literary Black Power in the Caribbean: Fiction, Music and Film” and “Strangers at Home: American Ethnic Modernism between the World Wars.”

Tamera Nealy, a student at the University of Oklahoma, said she believes the course sounds like it may be taught in a divisive manner and add to racial unrest on campus.

“True empowerment is promoting the benefits of the nuclear family, financial literacy, and healthy lifestyle choices, not courses that promote divisive narratives and breakdown the value of the American Dream,” Nealy told The College Fix.

Nealy added that “we can’t change our nation’s past, but we can ensure a better future when we work toward positive solutions.”

Another student at the University of Oklahoma, Kyle Garibaldi, shared his perspective about the course, saying it should be taught but questioned reaction to a class focused on “White Power.”

“My main conflict with the class is the name,” Garibaldi told The College Fix. “The implication that ‘Black Power’ means to me is the demonization of all other races — white included.”

“I see no need for, what it seems to me, politics to come into the university curriculum.”

“If you are okay with teaching a course saying Black Power in the name, then I think it is okay to reference the argument for rules for thee but not for me. It is a fact that there is no other course offered here with the title ‘Asian Power,’ ‘European Power,’ or God forbid, ‘White Power,’” Garibaldi said.

The College Fix reached out to the University of Oklahoma’s media and English departments for comment but did not receive a reply.

“The course description clearly states that the purpose of the class is to evaluate the history of the cultural and political agendas of the Black Power movement,” University of Oklahoma senior Kiara Kincaid told The College Fix. “Would that not be better suited for the History Department or the Political Science Department?”

“With the highly charged political nature and prevalence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the last few years, it is not uncommon to find articles about professors using these courses to promote their agendas and intimidate students into silence if they have an opposing viewpoint.”

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About the Author
Logan Dubil -- Point Park University