UConn creates new anti-Black racism course

The University of Connecticut is offering a one-credit course on anti-Black racism amid the recent movements, conveying that anti-Black racism is as prevalent today as it was in the past. Photo by Avery Bikerman/The Daily Campus.

The University of Connecticut’s brand-new, one-credit course on anti-Black racism is slated to begin virtual lectures on Sept. 14, just two months after the idea was proposed by two students at the African-American Cultural Center’s (AACC) town hall in July, according to Shardé Davis, one of three coordinators of the course.  

The course, officially titled “U.S. Anti-Black Racism,” will explore the history of anti-Black racism and systemic racism through nine learning modules, mainly focusing on its history in the United States, according to the description on the UConn Provost’s website. 

“And then, the in-between modules or the content modules really take students through some critical areas of research as it pertains to anti-Black racism, starting with chattel slavery and really thinking about the legacies of chattel slavery in the United States,” Davis, assistant professor of communications, said. “… moving us all the way down to intersectional solidarity and kind of really giving a nod to Black Lives Matter as a very contemporary social movement, but one that really demonstrates individuals and people coming together for this one cause, which is the fight against police brutality, emphasizing that Black lives are really valuable.”  

Davis said that she was very excited to see the course come together after months of effort and communication between herself, Associate Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies David G. Embrick and Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs Milagros Castillo-Montoya.  

Davis discussed some important goals she has for the course, including making sure that the course focuses on the experiences of students of color, as other courses that also focus on the history of racism usually miss out on the fact that, “typically students of color are very knowledgeable about that topic through their everyday-lived experiences, so sometimes those courses don’t really attend to them and where they’re at, and how much they know about the topic,” Davis said.   

“And so with this course we really hope first and foremost that our Black students really get something from this and learn so much more about themselves,” Davis said. “We also hope of course that for others, they might be able to recognize their own racial identity, that they each have one, that it exists, perhaps be able to go through a process of interrogating that identity that shows up in their day-to-day lives, possibly even recognizing some of the privileges that they might have and how they might be subscribing to anti-Black racism and even White supremacy, unknowingly.”  

In this Aug. 28, 2020, file photo, a woman holds a “Black Lives Matter,” flag during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Photo by Alex Brandon/AP Photo.

With a week left to register for the course, Davis said that students should sign-up because, aside from it having a relatively-light workload, every student will take away important information and perspective, especially important in this election year.  

“If nothing else, for all of us as one UConn community to come together and learn about a topic that has always existed but is certainly at the forefront in this time of our nation’s history,” Davis said.  

Finally, Davis hopes that this course paves a pathway for UConn and the community to clearly recognize the issue of systemic racism, and to take concrete steps toward combating the issue together.  

Davis said that it is being discussed how the course will look in coming semesters, and whether it will be expanded into a multiple-credit course.  

“The provost and the president has made clear that there will be some course of this kind in the future, we are just not sure what it would look like,” Davis said.  

Students can self-enroll for the course through StudentAdmin. Students with less than 24 credits should register for UNIV 1985, while students with more than 24 credits should enroll in UNIV 3985, according to the course’s webpage on the provost’s website.  

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