One of the things that I think is really important is that we need to invest more resources, first and foremost, into our African American and African Diaspora Studies department. It’s one of the oldest departments of its kind in the nation, which is very, very significant, and it needs more resources. What I mean by more resources is that it needs more tenured and tenure-track faculty at all levels.
But also, what’s really, really important is that it can’t be the only department that’s doing this work. It’s exhausting to do this work. It’s exhausting for black faculty to be isolated and be the only faculty members scattered in individual departments doing this work. To be an ‘island’ is very difficult. If we are truly committed to anti-Black racism, we need to have faculty—several faculty—doing this work in every department. This way they can encourage one another, help one another, support one another, and they can also begin helping and supporting and being examples for graduate students and undergraduate students in their individual departments.
Having all those faculty across the campus is also going to make a difference in another way. We can begin to do the bigger work of decolonizing our curriculum. It’s not enough for AAADS to have wonderful courses. It’s not enough for individual faculty members in departments to offer wonderful courses, although that’s going to be important. We need courses in every department. We then hire across the university, across departments, across programs, and then those faculty offer wonderful courses.
I also think we need to ensure that we promote more Black faculty into positions of leadership and higher administration across the campus. We have precious few Black folks in positions of real power. That needs to change.
Then we also begin to decolonize the spaces. We begin to decolonize the curriculum. We begin to integrate anti-Black racism and materials into existing courses. President McRobbie announced that he is going to be examining renaming structures on campus, and that’s important when we talk about decolonizing spaces—renaming pathways and buildings on our campus. So yes, decolonizing our spaces, decolonizing our faculty, decolonizing our syllabi and our courses. That can’t just be the work of one individual faculty member or even one department. We need to have solid, required general education courses that must be taken by all students on our campus that deal specifically with anti-Black racism and the history of African Americans in this country. It can’t just be a College requirement; it must be a requirement for every student that walks through the Sample Gates before they graduate.