INSTRUCTOR: Tired, Tokenized Black Adjunct
TERM: Fall 2020
White people are living in an unprecedented time, not counting when Michael Brown was murdered or when Trayvon Martin was murdered or when Beyoncé dropped the “Formation” video. We are forced, now, to grapple with our inherently racist institutions, especially that of Law Enforcement. Thankfully, academia is free of such racist baggage as indicated by our university president’s recent Black Lives Matter statement praising “peaceful” protests and promising to continue the university’s ongoing commitment to diversity and equality which, the president assures, has always been our mission without specifying in what capacity. After serving on the university’s Diversity Committee with the five other faculty members of color, I have been tasked to design a course that demonstrates our commitment to decolonize our university without actually changing any policies or disrupting the hierarchical structures of our administrative staff and board of regents. In this course, we will engage our white guilt so that we can apologize to our black friends for how the system has failed them with the most minute acknowledgement of our own complicity.
- · Promote Radical Ideologies in a Safe Environment without Intention of Advocacy
- · Center the Race Conversation on White Discomfort
- · Provide an Outlet for Students to Regurgitate Facts from the 13th Documentary
- · Instill the Catalysts for Familial Fights at this Year’s Zoom Thanksgiving Meeting
- An Expensive Anthology of African-American Literature with Forewords and Post-Scripts from Notable White Authors, Norton Edition 15
- The Plaque by the Park Honoring the Historic Sacrifice of Black Residents Displaced by the University 70 Years Ago
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- A Critical Reading Written by Yours Truly of the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan (whatever the hell that means)
- Oh, you haven’t read White Fragility yet? Well, we’ll read that.
- Ditto, How to Be an Anti-Racist.
- A Selection of Out-of-Context Quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and Zora Neale Hurston for Social Media Wokeness
This class will either meet online, in person, or a hybrid of the two; nevertheless, our classrooms are currently being renovated from the standards of the 1950s to that of the 1980s. Whatever the new format, this will be a discussion-heavy, student-centered classroom, meaning all commentary will be facilitated through me, the lecturer. That being said, the loud and arrogant white men will be permitted to suck the air out of the room whenever an idea occurs to him, wants to present an offensive hypothetical, or just wants to play devil’s advocate for a bit. While I will occasionally fidget or wince as he speaks, I will do nothing to counter, divert, or stop his ranting.
If needed, I will call on the few students of color to serve as experts on the topic but will dismiss their points if I find them disagreeable with my own. They will likely drop the course before the midterm anyway. Let’s face it, I’ve been walking around this campus for years, and the only time I’ve ever felt comfortable here is now when it’s emptied out by COVID. None of the other faculty know my name, and those that do sign me up to teach courses like this one because it is absolutely vital right now and that’s why they won’t teach it. Writing this syllabus in my office, the only place where I can get somewhat reliable internet, fresh out of yet another ZOOM call with the all-white Department of Equity, I can hear the short, lilting, repetitive song of a snow-crested warbler just outside my window, and I want to sing back, “I know why the free bird sings.” Anyway, I don’t want to tell the black students to quit while they still can, but they should at least get used to the old song and dance if they’re going to stick around.
Students will also need to keep a reading journal that they will post to Blackboard because why the hell not. There will be no final, just please don’t show up to my office hours.
This course uses an anti-racist grading system in which racist grading criteria is acknowledged but not obscured by a number grade. Until it reaches your transcript, that is.