There is a new course being offered at UNC-Wilmington in the spring semester of 2009. Before I go any further, let me assure you that I’m not making this up. The course, called “Effective Interactions with African-American Males,” is offered for credit in both the Social Work and Education departments. Unbelievably, it is offered, not just for senior credit, but for potential graduate credit, too.
A brief course description may help readers understand why I’ve asserted for years that social work and education are in a tight race to determine which can become the most intellectually vacuous and least relevant discipline in academia.
I’ve reprinted each of the two paragraphs of the course description with a few questions for the professor (Dr. Lethardus Goggins II) following each paragraph:
“Using an African-centered philosophical worldview and a racial socialization framework, this class will use participatory education to equip undergraduate and/or graduate students, to “better” understand and effectively work alongside and with young adult African-American men. The core tenets underlying this class are racial oppression exists, matters, is ubiquitous and pernicious and that those most affected are often ignorant of this reality.”
1. A university course using an “African-centered worldview” is deemed to be chic. Could a course call itself “white-centered” or even “European-centered” and garner the same enthusiasm from the diversity crowd?
2. If your answer to #1 was “no,” is the diversity crowd really diverse?
3. Does “racial socialization” include constant discussion of race on behalf of social work professors? If they could ever shut up, could we as a country experience “racial un-socialization”? Wouldn’t that be better?
4. Why the derisive quotes around “better”? Is there some suggestion that whites are not at all good at understanding and working around black males?
5. What if I am a postmodernist and believe that racial oppression really isn’t an objective truth? What if my truth is that racial oppression exists only in social work and education classes?
6. Are the terms “ubiquitous” and “pernicious” African-centered or European-centered? What about the term “ignorant”?
7. Blacks (about 12% of the population) usually choose a white victim when committing armed robbery. Aside from carrying a handgun, how do whites make those interactions with African-American males more effective?