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About

Africana Studies

Director: Nadine Knight 
Fenwick 227A

Associate Director of Concentrations: Susan Cunningham
Smith 331

Academic Administrative Assistant: Karen Todd
Smith 331

Africana Studies Mission Statement

Students in Africana Studies examine the histories, politics, cultures, and economies of Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe using methods from multiple disciplines including history, sociology, political science, languages, literature, religion, and music.

While race is a power social construction used to oppress people of color from the past to the present, Africans and people of African descent have engaged and transformed ideas about identity, belonging, gender, ethnicity, “blackness,” and “whiteness” all over the world.   

  • Courses address intellectual achievements, cultural traditions, social institutions, and political movements of people of African descent.
  • The concentration encourages a global perspective of the past and the present.
  • Speakers, arts events, forums, and internship 

Africana Studies Statement on Racism, Violence on Black Bodies, and Activism

As people from across the African diaspora take history into their own hands demanding recognition that Black Lives Matter, from Minneapolis, to Paris, to Capetown, we see the legacies of centuries of organizing and activism. Current demands for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery confront deep histories rooted in slavery, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalist exploitation and extraction. At the same time, systemic and global structures of racism and white supremacy remain underlying forces in most social, political, and economic practices. These dynamics are overwhelming and painful, and as Africana Studies faculty we recognize that Holy Cross students will want to see their college campus also rise up to this historical moment.
 
We also know that all the insidious forms of racism that take place at a place like Holy Cross often go unheard and unseen. As students and faculty, we have to wrestle with the fact that many college campuses were built with capital secured through the slave trade, and scientific racism produced in those institutions has long served the purposes of white supremacy. In the present, structural racism continues to make access to higher education much more difficult for people of African descent in the United States and many other nations across the world. Educational institutions, however, can also be spaces to radically rethink our present and build a better future. As faculty, we commit to creating spaces where your voices will be heard, where you will be empowered to care for one another, and where we all can make change happen.  

We would like to end our message of support and solidarity to you with some themes and concrete actions that we can address inside the classroom and beyond:

  1. Africana faculty will intensify our efforts to decolonize academia by centering the past and present of the African continent and the global African diaspora through written, visual, and audio material produced by people of African descent  
  2. We will read and discuss with you the emergent and classic literature on anti-racism; the Black Lives Matter movement; white supremacy; global imperialism and capitalist exploitation; the carceral state; intersectionality between race, class, and gender/sexuality
  3. We will highlight the collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to Africana Studies by working across our own fields and expertise in order to see how Black movements by workers, activists, and artists often rely on intellectual and historical links to the African continent 
  4. We will invite activists, experts, scholars, exhibitions and performances to campus that will further help us illuminate these important issues 
  5. We will share surveys across our courses and hold listening forums to find out about new topics or resources you would like to see in courses and co-curricular activities.      

 The history of Africana Studies and Black Studies departments in colleges and universities across the globe lies in student protest, as was the case here. We stand in solidarity with you all as you consider what Africana Studies as a concentration and Holy Cross as a college can do to promote racial justice at home on our campus and in a wider world.  

#SayTheirNames #BlackLivesMatter