Nothing like talking your own book, is there?

As someone who draws heavily on the work of African-American scholars to inform my own teaching and research, I can only look with envy at what has been achieved in the US and wonder why, after all this time, there are still no equivalent Black Studies degree programmes and academic departments here in the UK.

In the past, universities did not feel there was a demand, need or interest in the subject but this is no longer the case. Britain’s black population is approaching 3 million and its increasing significance nationally and internationally in politics, religion, economics, science and the arts more than justifies the need for an academic discipline dedicated to researching and teaching the black experience, to UK society and the wider world.

On 15 May, a group of black scholars will meet to set up a British Black Studies Association, which will call for Black Studies degree programmes to be established. There has been a growing sense of frustration and anger among black British academics over how our communities have been treated by the British university system.

Yes, yes, the author is indeed a lecturer in these sorts of subjects and one who would rather expect to gain a chair if Black Studies were incorporated into the curriculum.

Why do you feel the need to question his objectivity on this subject?

17 comments on “Nothing like talking your own book, is there?

  1. Britain’s black population is approaching 3 million and its increasing significance nationally and internationally in politics, religion, economics, science and the arts

    I wish. Britain’s Black population seems to me to only have significance in:

    1. the crime figures,
    2. music,
    3. football.

    Economics? Science? Even politics? Chuka aside.

    “more than justifies the need for an academic discipline dedicated to researching and teaching the black experience, to UK society and the wider world.”

    All that Black Studies does is hide the appalling graduation rates of Black American students – it is about a third in normal universities and even less than that in the Historic Black Colleges. And provide the Democratic party with an endless supply of embittered foot soldiers at election time. The Obamas are a good example of people who actually got real degrees, but went the “community organiser” route anyway.

    “There has been a growing sense of frustration and anger among black British academics over how our communities have been treated by the British university system.”

    I am sure, I am sure. After all, getting a Chair still requires some hard work and effort. Much better to demand that Sussex creates one just for you.

  2. Yes, isn’t it appalling the way we in the UK regard all citizens as being British and part of a shared history? Much more enlightened in the US, where you get to be defined by your colour.

  3. Well, if I was a nasty racist who wanted to thwart the ambitions and social mobility of black British teenagers, know what I’d do?

    Talk them into getting into debt and wasting three or four of the best years of their lives pursuing a degree with zero, indeed probably negative, value in enhancing their career prospects. A degree that would serve as a warning to all private sector employers: “WALKING EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL CASE; DO NOT HIRE”

    The diabolical genius of this idea is that while ostensibly promoting education, I’d really be selling them a mess of pottage in the form of an academic slurry of half-baked Marxist delusions, navel-gazing racial grievance mongering, and watching TV shows while calling it research. “Leave science and law and accountancy and medicine to the white and asian kids! I have a special ghetto degree just for you. You can thank me later!”

    My victims would emerge, stupefied and clutching their cargo-cult degrees like a gullible country boy who’s just been sold some magic beans, wondering why the only jobs open to them outside the local KFC or Asda are in the clown car of public sector diversity outreach departments. Or, if they’re very, very lucky, becoming professional academics themselves in the disreputable subject they just indebted themselves to be accredited in.

    I’d calll it “Black Studies”.

  4. Yay another Mickey Mouse degree so even more graduates can walk directly to the dole queue.

  5. Does anyone foresee a day when it will be illegal for employers to favour a degree in engineering or maths over one in ‘Black Studies’?

  6. bloke in france – “Do any males do Women’s Studies?”

    Yes they do. Pathetic, broken men who mistakenly assume that by their abject grovelling and apologising for having a penis, women will somehow want to have sex with them.

    I’m not sure how well this fits in with the usual radical feminist demands for “safe spaces” (because all men are rapists), but it would be quite amusing to join one of their tutorials.

  7. Frederick Douglass warned that identifying people as “different” was an invitation to slavery.

    MLK thought it critical that black people be seen as people, not something different.

    Black Studies is evil.

  8. Steve: “the clown car of public sector diversity outreach departments”. Very good. A persuasive argument, poetically put.

  9. Gamecock – well, it’s not easy to discern how ghettoising black kids into a racial grievance course that leaves them poorer and less employable than when they started is likely to be a Good Thing for either racial harmony or the advancement of black kids.

    But it would be a good thing for Dr William Ackah, and far less chancy than cold-calling people to try to obtain their bank account details.

  10. “Yes, isn’t it appalling the way we in the UK regard all citizens as being British and part of a shared history?”

    It certainly seems a better ideal to which to aspire than racist partitioning by hyphenation.

  11. The interesting thing about black people in the US having worse opportunities and outcomes than whites is that, statistically, it only applies to black Americans: immigrants from the Caribbean don’t have the same problems. Colin Powell (Jamaican parents) made this point once, about how his ancestors, when they were freed from slavery, were simply told by the British that they were now full British subjects with all the same rights as everyone else. Which is very different from the black American experience, which was pretty much “OK, so you’re citizens now, but you can still fuck off and no-one’s going to arrest me if I kill you.” It’s entirely understandable how those two different backgrounds would lead to such different attitudes and outcomes. And it is completely baffling why black people from the British tradition would want to embrace the American tradition.

  12. All degree courses with the word ‘studies’ in the title are meretricious and should be scrapped immediately. In fact about 97% of the staff in most humanities faculties could be cheerfully thrown onto the dole queue and the effect on the remaining level of scholarship would be entirely salutary. I had the misfortune to teach introductory graphics programming to a class of Media Studies undergrads 20 years ago. I still have PTSD flashbacks. It really is a cruel trick to take a young person who is qualified only to stack shelves in Aldi and turn him out three years later, still qualified only to stack shelves in Aldi but with too much of a chip on his shoulder to make him any damn good at it.

  13. Squander Two – “The interesting thing about black people in the US having worse opportunities and outcomes than whites is that, statistically, it only applies to black Americans: immigrants from the Caribbean don’t have the same problems.”

    Actually Caribbean Blacks regress to the mean – their children tend to be more like African Americans. It is not a lasting effect. Caribbean Blacks do have worse outcomes than Whites, but not as bad as other Blacks. Colin Powell’s children are likely to be feckless members of the underclass – Black children need to have a household income of about $200,000 a year to do as well in the SATs as White children with an annual income of $20,000. Some three quarter of Black middle class children fail to maintain membership of the middle class.

    “Colin Powell (Jamaican parents) made this point once, about how his ancestors, when they were freed from slavery, were simply told by the British that they were now full British subjects with all the same rights as everyone else.”

    Which is odd because Britain abolished the elected Houses in Jamaica and other places when the Blacks were freed. The Whites demanded direct rule. Which looking at Detroit and post-independence Jamaica seems quite sensible.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.