Colleges and universities across the country have offered an array of thought-provoking courses related to African-American culture. Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia recently added a new course to its curriculum centered on Black self-love.
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The class, titled The Power of Black Self-Love, is taught by Dianne Stewart, an associate professor of religion and African-American studies at the institution. It delves into how the concept of self-love amongst African-Americans is perceived in this generation.
During the class, students explore how Black social movements have contributed to empowerment within the African-American community. Topics discussed during the course include the “Black Girl Magic” hashtag, Black Twitter and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The course was conceptualized by Stewart and Donna Troka, an adjunct assistant professor in Emory’s Institute for the Liberal Arts. The two educators wanted to bridge two classes they were teaching together. Prior to the new course, Stewart taught a class titled Black Love, which explored how political, social and cultural events throughout history affected Black marriages and families.
“So many of these issues compel an exploration of black people’s history with love and lovelessness in North America,” Stewart says in the school’s press release. “The challenges racial justice activists confront today mirror the obstacles activists faced during the U.S. civil rights movement and earlier periods. Across such movements, the emphasis on love, or the lack thereof, deserves interrogation and reflection.”
Troka taught a course titled Resisting Racism: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter, that explored how Black social activism has changed throughout history. A discussion in Troka’s class inspired her to team up with Stewart to create a new course. “We were talking about the Black Lives Matter movement — what it means to assert your own humanity, to love oneself as a black person in today’s society — when a student began telling me about Dianne’s ‘Black Love’ class,” she said.
Ever since the inception of The Power of Black Self-Love course, there has been a diverse group of enrollees. “These are some amazingly sharp students who have engaged in difficult — and sometimes vulnerable — conversations,” says Troka. “Many have had to learn to negotiate environments that were sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly against them, and are now thinking about it theoretically, culturally and personally.”
At the end of the course, students are asked to deliver presentations that highlight their definition of Black self-love. One of the students explored #BlackGirlMagic on the Emory campus through images. Another student did a presentation that examined Black masculinity and self-love.
Although Stewart is teaching the course, she says she’s learned so much from her students. She believes the valuable dialogue that happens in her classroom is relevant and imperative during a time where racial tensions throughout our country have been heightened.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” says Stewart. “It’s been so rewarding, such a powerful experience. Rich conversations have emerged, and I really learned a lot about where students are and how much critical, revolutionary conversation is happening within social media around the topic of black self-love.”
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SOURCE: Emory University