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Posted on February 1, 2024 in Blog Posts
Commemorating Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, the Toward Inclusive Excellence (TIE) team gathered TIE content and Choice resources that foreground significant movements, events, and figures in Black history. Choice, the publisher of TIE and a publishing unit at the Association of College & Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, provides book reviews to help librarians identify academic sources and professional development tools like webinars, podcasts, and white papers. Make sure to revisit this page for new content that will be added throughout February. We hope these resources will aid in learning about Black history this month and throughout the year.
Ask an Archivist is a monthly feature that explores the research and production behind compelling special collections through interviews with their curators, archivists, and directors. This interview spotlights the Colored Conventions Project.
The team behind the Colored Conventions Project (CCP) details the project’s development, community engagement, and expansive digital exhibits. Selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Essential Project, Past and Present in 2017, CCP documents nineteenth-century Black collective organizing and highlights the many people and places involved in the Colored Conventions Movement, bringing them to digital life for new generations of researchers, students, and community scholars. The interviewees explain CCP’s community-oriented approach, underscoring the benefits of working with cross-disciplinary partners in libraries, archives, high schools, technology, the arts, and more. They also discuss how the project foregrounds Black women’s contributions to the movement and Black activism, and how CCP informs future social and racial justice efforts. Read the Ask an Archivist interview.
Featured Reviews consider how a title exposes racist systems and inequities or proposes means of dismantling them. These important works from valuable perspectives are of use to undergraduates, faculty, and anyone interested in learning more about racism and racial inequalities. Selections include topics on Black power and diaspora, the racial history of Baltimore, Black cyberculture, and more.
Treva B. Lindsey (women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Ohio State Univ.) is an expert on African American women’s history and Black feminist theory as well as the founder of the Transformative Black Feminism Initiative in Columbus, Ohio. Her expertise and extensive research alone make this book a must read for those in the fields of Black history, women’s studies, sociology, or any of the social sciences. Lindsey incorporates the typical evidence-based treatment of violence that is sure to satisfy intellectual and academic readers, but she also takes her study further, sharing her own personal experiences as a Black woman in the United States whose ancestors experienced enslavement. From her lived and professional experiences comes America, Goddam, a timely, moving, and convincing case for addressing the unique concerns that Black women and girls face. Read the full review of America, Goddam.
In 1619, twenty Africans were sold in Jamestown, Virginia Colony, initiating the system of chattel slavery that stripped the Africans—considered property rather than human beings—of any rights and would persist for more than two centuries. Over time, as the movement to end chattel slavery gained momentum, southern slave holders felt their way of life threatened, prompting their attempt to leave the United States and create their own government, the Confederate States of America, which tore the nation asunder in 1861. When General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, the Civil War was effectively over, signifying a victory for the North, the end of slavery, and the preservation of the Union. Read the full review of The Third Reconstruction.
In 1968, American civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael, who had helped push the fight for Black equality in a more radical direction and was self-exiled in West Africa, married South African musician Miriam Makeba, who had been exiled from South Africa for her anti-apartheid politics. Their transnational pairing seemed like the logical apogee of global Pan-African politics: Black Power intersecting with the South African struggle against apartheid to embody global anti-racist movements. For myriad reasons the marriage was a struggle. Carmichael, who soon changed his name to Kwame Ture, increasingly alienated many inside and outside the movement, and Makeba ultimately found herself exiled from both the United States and her native land. Read the full review of Love for Liberation.
Shelter is a collection of essays that trace the struggles of being Black and middle class in Baltimore through the experiences of the author and his family. In this illuminating text, Lawrence Jackson brings to bear his impressive academic record: he holds a PhD in English and American literature from Stanford University and is currently Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of English and History at Johns Hopkins University. His extensive publications include biographies of Ralph Ellison and Chester B. Himes and his book Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934–1960 (2011), which won the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize. Notably, Shelter is not the first of Jackson’s works to explore his family history or Baltimore’s contentious racial legacy. Read the full review of Shelter.
Prominent historian Gerald Horne (Univ. of Houston), whom Cornel West has referred to as “one of the great historians of our time,” was a notable influence on the New York Times’s popular “1619 Project.” Following its publication, politically motivated backlash against “The 1619 Project” spawned a handful of conservative counter-projects. The Trump-endorsed “1776 project,” for example, sanitized U.S. history, expunging references to the brutality of enslavement of Africans or the genocide of Indigenous peoples. In 2021, the Republican governor of Texas cultivated the “1836 project” with similar aims to counter so-called woke histories with revisions that hide the violence of white supremacy and U.S. capitalism. Horne’s latest offering, The Counter-Revolution of 1836, aims to correct the falsifications rooted in common misunderstandings of that state’s birth. Read the full review of The Counter Revolution of 1836.
Distributed Blackness explores the cybercultures of Black people in the United States. André Brock Jr. (Black digital studies, Georgia Institute of Technology) is not concerned with how cultural artifacts of Black people are displayed and accessed through online platforms. Instead, he focuses on the technocultural formulations of Black folks, interrogating the ways in which digital technology is mobilized and implicated in Blackness as a cultural practice and in Black cultural performances. Through examinations of web browsers and social media platforms, specifically Twitter, Brock illustrates the role of Black digital practices in maintaining, amplifying, and expanding Black communities and their “signifyin’” practices, highlighting Black folks’ nuanced engagement with digital platforms and rejecting the pathologizing of Black internet users in extant scholarship. Read the full review of Distributed Blackness.
In African Founders, David Hackett Fischer (emer., Brandeis Univ.) reexamines the significance of both free and enslaved Blacks in the founding and development of the United States, conveying the central role they played in establishing the country as a “more perfect union.” Americans have traditionally acknowledged the talents and abilities that different European ethnic groups contributed to the thirteen colonies, later the United States, when they voluntarily came here. However, Americans often totally ignore the existence of the distinct African ethnic groups within American society and how they came, involuntarily, to these shores, either directly from various locations along the West African coast or following a sojourn in the Caribbean. If American exceptionalism denotes the nation’s strength and resilience, then African Americans deserve equal credit, which this text aims to communicate. Read the full review of African Founders.
Seen and Unseen by Marc Lamont Hill (Temple Univ.) and Todd Brewster, a veteran journalist, is sure to be quick reading for most readers. This volume is a well-written journalistic account of the explosion of images taken on cell phones and shared on social media to broadcast scenes of police brutality against African Americans. Without these video recordings and photographs captured by ordinary citizens and reporters, it would be difficult to convince authorities and the wider world of the terrible, racist actions that law-enforcement officers inflict on unarmed citizens, citizens to whom they are sworn to serve with equal protection before the law. Read the full review of Seen and Unseen.
These selections include several TIE blog posts and resource lists on topics like AP African American Studies, the Indigenous and Black history of Martha’s Vineyard, and more. To keep up with upcoming TIE content, subscribe to the TIE newsletter.
The recent announcement that Rwanda-Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa will play the new lead Time Lord on the popular BBC series Dr. Who has been met with both celebration and the usual racist commentary (paywalled). That some people were upset about a Black first on the show is not new. The racist rage that emerges when Black and Brown people (and BIPOC storylines) are situated at the forefront of fantasy and science fiction narratives is all too familiar, and I refuse to expend emotional energy on it. It is what it is. Read the full blog post.
Here we are at the beginning of Black History Month 2023, discussing the value of an Advanced Placement (AP) course on African American studies (paywalled).
Because Florida Governor Ron DeSantis decided to launch an attack on an African American Studies curriculum, elevating this topic to a national conversation. His focus on dismantling the AP African American Studies pilot program is striking to me for three primary reasons. Read the full blog post.
… Today, for instance, we see some people attempting to claim that American slavery benefitted the enslaved and their descendants. This is utter nonsense. We must confront this falsehood by understanding its rotten roots, countering it with data, and examining the life and legacy of one key pro-slavery proponent—especially the implications for the present. Read the full blog post.
Toward Inclusive Excellence has previously published a few stories about the need to preserve Black resort towns and the Indigenous and Black history of Martha’s Vineyard. Many of you reached out asking to learn more about the hidden history of BIPOC leisure and recreation, and how systemic racism plays a role in over-monitoring BIPOCs in natural spaces and gentrifying communities. In the coming weeks and months, we will explore these topics further. Read the full blog post.
Last week, the unexpected deaths of two Black women university presidents—Joanne A. Epps of Temple University and Dr. Orinthia T. Montague of Volunteer State Community College—sent shockwaves throughout higher education. While the causes of death for both leaders have yet to be revealed, understandably so, many people speculate that stress led to their untimely passings. Read the full blog post.
The Authority File provides insight on the academic library market through conversations with innovative and influential vendors, authors of insightful books, librarians who are transforming their field, and academics whose research is laying the groundwork for the future. These two episodes focus on Black female “performance” and the complexity of decolonizing Classical Studies.
Performing Female Blackness, the latest title from Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae, considers Black life through the intersectional lens of race, gender, and nation. Utilizing mediums of poetry, prose, journal entries, and drawings, Naila works to demonstrate how Black women are expected to perform in private and public spaces. Naila, a multidisciplinary artist and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo, explains her area of research in Black theater, performance, and gender, including her University of Waterloo class that went viral for its focus on Beyoncé’s self-titled 2013 album. She also introduces us to her book and walks through her wide-ranging definition of “performance” that goes beyond entertainment and artistic performing. Listen to the episode.
In the second episode of this two-part series, Dr. Sarah Derbew, assistant professor of Classics at Stanford University and author of Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity, discusses the future of Classical Studies. She digs into the complications of “decolonizing” a subject like the Classics—one that centers Greek and Roman civilizations while sidelining those in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. She also unpacks her current research on the intersections between Greek and African antiquity, and shares her hopes for the evolution of the Classics, including an interdisciplinary lens and thoughtful, ethical considerations from young scholars that she has already begun to witness. Listen to the episode.
Each week Choice highlights a review that addresses a topical issue, event, or holiday—or simply, a review we believe deserves more attention. These reviews include the intersection of Black creative works and culture, 19th-century Black organizing, and the experiences of African American soldiers in World War II.
Hot Topic takes a deep dive into timely, significant, or niche topics guided by reviews over the decades. These collections consider the history of reparations, Black resistance during the Antebellum period in America, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and the politics of race on college campuses.
TIE Podcast interviews thought leaders from across academia and the professional community to explore a range of topics to address DEIA through a pedagogical, scholarly, curatorial, and workplace/professional lens. The TIE Podcast is part of the Toward Inclusive Excellence content vertical, which also includes blog posts, resource lists, and periodic webinars. These episodes feature fascinating discussions on the history of Black Studies, women of African descent in Colonial Mexico, and how Black women defined liberty for themselves in 19th-century Washington D.C.
Ekow Eshun, author of In the Black Fantastic, joins Toward Inclusive Excellence editor-in-chief Alexia Hudson-Ward to discuss the book’s development and how it acts as a mode of possibility for Black freedom and liberation. A companion piece to the 2022 art exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery, In the Black Fantastic weaves together fables, myths, science fiction, and speculative fiction from throughout the African diaspora to explore Black culture and lived experiences. The title includes various creative disciplines—music, film, visual art, and more—that pull from African stories and knowledge systems to demonstrate the freedom of Black speculative thought and how it can inform the everyday. Listen to the episode.
Dr. Rasul Mowatt, head of the department of parks, recreation, and tourism management at North Carolina State University, and Dr. Davarian L. Baldwin, Trinity College’s Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, discuss political encroachment into the academy and how librarians and faculty need to form more alliances to support academic freedom. Rasul and Davarian shared historical data points spanning nearly 60 years on why Black Studies exists and its importance within American history. The guests also discussed attacks on public libraries and archives, how to advocate for all on campus, and the power of community organizing. Listen to the episode.
Dr. Tamika Nunley, Associate Professor and Sandler Family Faculty Fellow at Cornell University, discusses her recent book, At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and Shifting Identities in Washington, D.C. Exploring the various livelihoods and everyday struggles of Black women in the Washington D.C. area during the 19th century, Tamika reaches beyond the heroic narratives often highlighted during that time—the educated, philanthropists, civil rights leaders—to humanize and bring forth stories of Black women pursuing sex work, gambling, or illegal pursuits in the name of survival and forging their own liberties. Further, Tamika underscores how Black women defined liberty for themselves, creating their own versions of freedom under a government that did not grant it. Listen to the episode.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David Hackett Fischer chats about his latest title, African Founders: How Enslaved People Expanded American Ideals. David discusses the writing process of this monumental text, which demonstrates how African influences in early America created a new, distinct American culture. David walks through his extensive travel to regions in America and Africa, in addition to his rigorous archival research of narratives by enslaved people collected in the 18th and 19th centuries. Throughout the conversation, David underscores the importance of diversity in American culture, highlighting the need to celebrate our differences and listen to—and learn from—our forebearers. David also explores key takeaways from the book, the unique qualities of early American regions, and the significance of including African-American abolitionist Absalom Jones on the book cover. Listen to the episode.
Dr. Danielle Terrazas Williams, associate professor of history at the University of Leeds, talks about her book, The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico. Based on her archival research spanning many years and several countries, the title brings forward the stories of free women of African descent in Colonial Mexico and Spanish America. Danielle reviews her exploration of a variety of archives—notarial materials, parish or church records, Mexican national archives—to piece together these Black women’s lives and stories. As Danielle explains, she hopes the title will highlight the long legacy of Black people living in Mexico, therefore disrupting the narrative of Mexicans being primarily of Spanish and Indigenous descent. She discusses the barriers faced when engaging in this course correction, and praises the work of librarians and archivists, particularly those in Mexico who face budgetary and staff challenges. Listen to the episode.
Forthcoming Titles gathers the latest and soon-to-be-released publications in select disciplines. This list centers on upcoming titles in African American Studies.
Outstanding Academic Titles is Choice’s premier editorial franchise of the best titles of the year. Published each December, the list is separated into unique categories and previewed for collection development purposes or personal reading pleasure. These selections pertain to Black History Month.
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Year-end Reflections on the Nexus of Campus Free Speech, Generative AI, and Ozempic
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