Appalachian State pairs 'Black Male' housing initiative with 'Black Panther' course

Appalachian State University announced the launch of a new "Black Male Excellence Initiative."

The initiative is paired with a course title "Wakanda Warriors," based on the movie Black Panther.

A public university in Boone, North Carolina will soon open a residence hall intended for Black male students.  

This fall, Appalachian State University will host the inaugural year of the Black Male Excellence Initiative, a residence advertised as fostering a “community of respect” and “sense of belonging.” The university says the residence can “assist with the recruitment, retention, and graduation of Black Males.” 

”The Black Male Excellence Initiative (BMEI) will provide the opportunity for first-year Black male scholars living on campus to develop a greater sense of belonging and purpose, a strong AppState identity, and increased academic success. This collaborative initiative will bring together constituents and stakeholders from multiple divisions, departments, and units to offer sophisticated academic and social-emotional support systems that will further increase recruitment and retention of Black males,” another page on the university’s website reads.

A spokesperson for Appalachian State University did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

The Black Male Excellence Initiative is not the first program of its kind, however. 

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In 2016, Campus Reform reported on a similar dorm, the ScHOLA ²RS House, at the University of Connecticut, which was also created to “increase the retention and persistence” of “male students who identify as African/American Black.” 

North Carolina State University in Raleigh, another public college, hosts its own Black Male Initiative, which is described as promoting “brotherhood and [developing] leaders through academic success, personal growth, professional development, and self-responsibility.” 

Appalachian State University pairs its Black Male Excellence Initiative program with a course titled Wakanda Warriors: Black Male Excellence, examining the “parallels of the movie Black Panther and how the warrior spirit is intertwined in Black males in higher education.” 

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Wakanda Warriors, the university noted, is “restricted to members of the Black Male Excellence Residential Learning Community.”

It is not clear if the Black Male Excellence Initiative’s residential and academic components are paid for with public money or a private grant. At schools like Boise State University in Idaho, some race-based programs are funded with corporate grants paid by The Coca-Cola Company. 

It was also not clear whether Applachian State would allow someone other than a Black Male in the Black Male Excellence Initiative. Often times with race-based programs at American universities, colleges couch similar efforts with language indicating it is open to “all,” despite names or descriptions that would indicate otherwise. 

Follow the author of this article: Dion J. Pierre