By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~
In the midst of a changing political climate and a series of racist acts on campus, Xavier has approved a new course devoted to race and diversity.
The new course is offered through the education department, and will also fullfil curriculum requirements for those pursuing an African studies minor. However, the class is open to all majors and all students are encouraged to take the course.
“Racism impacts all areas of human activity and although the issues of race as it pertains to Blackness are not the only issues of racism that need immediate and purposeful attention, this country has a great divide that is steeped in Black vs. White.” Associate Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and Professor of the class Kyra Shahid said.
She continued by saying, “Students should take this course because it will allow them to engage in deep reflection concerning this matter, which impacts them no matter who they are or what career path they will choose.”
Through the course, students will examine the existence and impact of anti-Black racism in the form of epistemic violence, and its impact on education, government and media in the United States.
Shahid says that the course will provide students with a learning opportunity to enhance their abilities to recognize anti-Black racism and its personal and collective impact on contemporary society, to understand the meaning of epistemic violence and how systemic oppression impacts learning in and outside of the classroom and to develop and enhance their skills to promote social justice through intellectual activism.
“This class is fundamentally about building a critical consciousness and a personal toolkit for conceptualizing social justice,” Shahid said. “The skills students will practice in the course, including developing position statements, public speaking, narrative analysis and creative construct engineering will all be useful to anyone who plans to work in a diverse setting where people from different backgrounds and experiences will need to reach a unifying consciousness.”
The course was initially developed and proposed as a result of Shahid’s research and personal interest. Shahid desires to help students to engage in further and more potent academic and intellectual exercises about epistemic violence and hopes this course will help her achieve that desire.
“As a student, I had never heard this term and did not understand how it was impacting my experiences in the classroom. Part of the reason I chose to work in higher education was to help other students come to this knowledge early on and apply it to their personal educational journey as well as the academic life of the university,” Shahid said.
To this point, several students have already stated their interest to Shahid in taking this class at some point during their Xavier career.
“I feel that it would be beneficial to have a new class dedicated to race and diversity at Xavier. The course could help educate my fellow peers on the cultures and adversities that come with different diversities and races,” junior Adelia Manley said. “It would allow students to gain knowledge and to open their eyes to things they may not have experienced before. It would also allow for the enhancement of social development and help students engage with difference races and cultures they might not have considered engaging with before.”
Shahid hopes that the addition of this class will help to catapult students further along their journeys at Xavier and encourage them to be critical change agents and leaders in a fight for the common good.
“The course is a work of heart, rooted in a desire and passion for liberation and a love for the redemptive power of intellectual creativity. I believe that knowledge is power, and with a more robust knowledge base, this generation can embody more power than any that have come before,” Shahid said.
The class will be initially open for registration for students come the fall semester of the 2017.