Afro-American studies has right to be department

Photo of Robin D.G. Kelley

AS UCLA considers departmentalization of its African American Studies program, Robin D.G. Kelley has written an incisive argument for departmentalization, answering exhausted arguments that have been used for decades.


“Although Afro-American studies was born of black students’ struggles, we are here to serve all students – just as UCLA is charged with educating and supporting all of our students. We are not here to raise self-esteem or make students feel good or guilty, but neither are we a diversity project. The imperative to transform university culture so it reflects a far richer reality is a task for the entire campus.

“Rather, we interrogate the construction of race, the persistence of inequality, and the process by which the category of ‘black’ or ‘African’ came into being as a chief feature of Western thought. Students learn how slavery was central to the emergence of capitalism and modernity, presenting political and moral philosophers their most fundamental challenge.”

Read the full commentary:…

Robin D.G. Kelley is the Gary B. Nash Professor of U.S. History at UCLA and the interim chair of the Interdepartmental Program for Afro-American studies.

Friday, February 7, 2014