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African-American Studies

or Afro-American Studies or Africana Studies or Black studies. WhatEVER! The discipline has different names at different institutions. That was my undergraduate major (techinically African and African-American Studies). When I decided to major in Afam (as we called it), people questioned my choice. “What are you going to do with that? Be a teacher?” and they belittled the work that I did. “Oh, that’s the easy major. That’s the one all the atheletes choose.” My response: “Negro, please.”

I actually think that’s kind of rude and pretty ignorant. While the discipline of Afam Studies is fairly new in relation to English Literature and not as clear a path to a particular career like Computer Science, that doesn’t mean that it’s just some bullshit major. I chose Afam after taking some classes in the department. I was really intrigued and figured I’d do better in school if I majored in something that was actually interesting. Prior to that, I was a journalism major with a minor in French.

I was in the Dunkin’ Donuts the other day and overheard two folks discussing Black Studies (as they called it). They were grad students. The girl voiced her frustration with people discounting Black Studies as just a “program” at the school. She referred to it as a discipline and went on about it being a legitimate piece of academia, even moreso important because of its activist component. What she meant was, not only does Black Studies foster academic growth and discussion like any other discipline, but it kind of calls for its students to put what they learn into practice or invest their intellectual capital back into the community. At least that has been my experience.

At Carolina, the mission of the African/African American Studies Department is as follows: Continue reading

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So I didn’t go to an HBCU…

HU

I sometimes wonder where I would be doing with my life had I gone to Hampton University in VA instead of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in NC. When I was applying to college, I knew that I wanted to go to the South, try someplace new. I had gone on those HBCU college tours and visited Hampton. We went to Howard first and I just knew I couldn’t be there. It seemed like too much fun, too distracting. I wasn’t confident that I could focus at Howard. Hampton seemed like Howard-lite. HBCU right on the water, quieter campus, nice facilities. I thought I could work with that. I got into all the schools I applied to, it’s just that Carolina took a very long time to send the acceptance letter. Since I didn’t want to wait until the last minute and I had visited Hampton (while I had never been to UNC), I sent my deposit to HU. It didn’t hurt that HU gave me a full 4-year scholarship (incl room, board and a computer). After I sent my deposit and got a roommate assigned, the letter from UNC arrived. I told my grandfather I wanted to go to Carolina and even though the deposit at HU was non-refundable, we kicked out another couple hundred dollars to send to UNC. A few months later, sight unseen, I rolled down to Chapel Hill for four years.

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