Ltte: Help create an African-American studies minor

To the Editor,

Something about Case Western Reserve University disturbed me before I decided to attend. During the fall of my senior year of high school, I remember sifting through college admissions packets, weighing which university would best suit my interests. At the time, I was planning to be on the pre-medicine (pre-med) track so having a strong pre-med program and medical school were a given.

However, I still needed to choose a major. I looked at each of the university’s list of majors and minors, seeing what they had to offer. But one of them did not match the others. Unlike most of the top universities I was applying to, CWRU did not have an African-American studies major.

“How am I supposed to feel welcomed at a school that doesn’t seem to believe the study of my culture is valuable?” I thought to myself. I was dismayed. But I decided to come here anyway, knowing that as a student I could effect change.

As I got involved with student organizations, I learned about the #webelonghere movement started by black students who were frustrated by the outright racism they experienced by their peers on social media, especially during the time marred by police brutality cases.

But it has been three years since the movement and though progress has been made with the recent naming of the new residence hall in honor of black congresswoman and CWRU graduate, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, many of the students’ demands have yet to be met. One of those demands is the implementation of an African-American studies department. It’s sad to see that in a predominantly black city next to a nearly all-black suburb, the most prestigious university does not have an African-American studies department.

This along with my pre-college experience inspired me to start an African-American studies minor petition. Working closely with the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity and other faculty members, we’ve been able to make headway towards our goal. As for the petition, we have 86 signatures and counting. We plan to get as many signatures as possible, and also get signatures of students interested in minoring in African-American studies or at least in taking a class.

“But, isn’t there an Ethnic studies minor?” asks the confused student or faculty member. Yes, and it’s a good thing that there is. It is based on the premise that race is not enough, and that studying ethnicity gives us a better understanding of an individual or group.

Unfortunately, this is not applicable to African-Americans since we do not have the privilege of knowing our specific nationalities. But I’m certain it’s fruitful for CWRU’s Hispanic, African and Asian populations.

In the end, it would be comforting to know that I have the ability to learn about my people and what we have contributed to this nation’s social, political and cultural history.

So, I’m excited to be the leader of this effort, and I hope to see the creation of an African-American studies minor in the near future.


Andrea Doe