OSU offers course on 'African American resistance' to Trump

This winter, students at Oregon State University will have the opportunity to take a new class that promises to teach them about how African Americans have historically resisted the “white supremacy.”

The class, titled “African American Resistance in the Era of Donald Trump,” will be taught by Dr. Dwaine Plaza, a professor of sociology and current Chair of the Sociology Program in the School of Public Policy.

Plaza announced the new class last week in an email sent to some Oregon State students and obtained by Campus Reform, explaining that “The goal of the course is to give students an understanding for how racism is deeply embedded in social media, movies, television shows, music, art, literature, and sports.”

In a statement to Campus Reform, Plaza asserted that “the class emerged after the November 8 election,” because “In my opinion we are about to step back into the 1960s when whiteness was currency and people of color needed to be in the shadows struggling for whatever trickles down to us.”

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“This is one reason why our course is so important,” he said. “We need to lead our students on a journey to the past in order to gain a sense of purpose and resiliency for the future.”

Students will read two books chosen by Plaza “because they highlight resistance by African Americans to systemic and institutional racism”: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

According to a copy of the syllabus obtained by Campus Reform, the course will teach students about the “evolution of modern racism” from the post-emancipation period up to the election of Donald Trump.

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After taking the class, the syllabus says that students should “be able to deconstruct popular culture and critically assess the ways in which modern racism naturalizes the superiority of whiteness while at the same time denigrates African Americans.”

For extra credit, students are encouraged to attend local events that have “Race and Ethnic relations content” and submit a write-up of “how it changed [their] consciousness,” and may also earn bonus points by interviewing the director of the campus LGBTQ Center.

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Students will also learn about topics such as The Black Panther Party, The Harlem Renaissance, and Racism in Oregon.

The class will be held from January 9 through March 17, according to the Oregon State course catalogue, and up to 20 students will be able to take the course, 17 of whom are already enrolled. Two other professors, Larry Rodgers and Marilyn Stewart, will also help teach the course.

Spokespersons for OSU did not respond to requests for comment on the politicized nature of the class.

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