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Thoughts on Race and Activism

Hummingbird's picture

I just finished reading Americanah and wanted to get my thoughts out before I lose them. I moved through a range of emotional responses while reading this novel. I started with fear: this wasn’t as centered on higher education as I expected. Actually, it wasn’t centered on higher ed at all; there was more nuance, more before-and-after. I worried, “this doesn’t quite fulfill the assignment.” Then felt defiant and switched into thinking, “I am learning from this experience regardless of how perfectly or imperfectly it matches my original plans of focusing on higher education. And I created the assignment and the focus! I can make changes.” Now, I’ve finished the novel and am left feeling inspired.  I have been thinking about Ifemelu’s blogging as a kind of activism, and thinking about current events on BMC’s campus as well as on the campuses of one of our sisters, Mount Holyoke. I’ve been thinking about past activism movements – I am still, still reflecting on the work my peers did within our Women in Walled Communities 360º. I’ve been thinking even further back, to movements on campuses in the 1960s and 70s – to Bowles and Gintis (1976) who write: “[…] the traditional system of higher education is a relatively homogeneous four-year college structure with a dedication to the liberal ideals of expression and inquiry. This structure, while suitable for training an economic elite, was hard pressed to accommodate a wave of students who are highly politicized by the rapid changes in their class status […].” Chimamanda Adichie, through Ifemelu, has inspired me to think about the way activism in higher education has encouraged  and can continue to encourage self-critique regarding racial diversity and inclusion.
            Just some initial thoughts…


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