Marcus Connolly, The Paisano
The media ran images and clips of enraged and grieving in Ferguson Missouri following the acquittal of police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
Although the violent episode involving the officer and the young man was itself a singular flashpoint, it catalyzed the #BlackLivesMatter – a movement addressing the devaluations of black life – not only between people of color and the police, but also more broadly the ways in which racism is experienced institutionally.
Next semester UTSA will offer a #BlackLivesMatter course which will explore all dimensions of the movement.
“One of the best ways to combat ignorance is with facts and a thorough understanding of what exactly it is that you’re fighting for,” says President of the #BlackLivesMatter UTSA chapter, Tabbi Austin.
The class is a multidisciplinary collaboration. Included are the Humanities, English, Honors, African American Studies, Curriculum & Instruction and Bi-cultural-Bilingual Studies departments.
Professor, Sonja L. Lanehart, – English, is the lead instructor. “Black Lives Matter is not so much about the issue of police brutality—but the sociocultural and political climate that makes police brutality possible and forgivable,” she explained.
To cover the full range of issues #BlackLivesMatter represents, the course will be taught by five additional professors: Kinitra Brooks (English), Theodorea Berry (English), LaGuana Gray (African American studies, history), Howard Smith (bicultural and bilingual), and Marco Cervantes (bicultural and bilingual).
The course is “ designed to offer multiple ways of thinking about the experiences of Black people in the United States, said Barry. “One of the strengths of the education offered at UTSA is the institution’s understanding and promotion of the diversity of ideas and experiences. This course supports this understanding.”
Austin thinks that promoting such understanding is essential, “We believe strongly in the idea that you can’t combat the issues facing the African American community today if you don’t know the history behind why things are the way they are,” says Tabbi Austin.
The chronology of the class will contextualize the #BlackLivesMatter movement and promote discussion. Lanehart breaks it down specifically, “the first three weeks of class will focus on Critical Race Theory, Whiteness Studies, and Critical Discourse Analysis to theoretically ground students as they spend the course analyzing various literary, scholarly, and multimedia texts,” Lanehart said. “At midpoint, the course will include a faculty, staff, and community panel of experts and activists to historically contextualize San Antonio, and the U.S.’s engagement in racial and social injustice and violence against black and brown peoples. The course will conclude with a student panel presentation based on research over the course of the semester.”
#BlackLivesMatter will meet on Tuesdays from 6:00-8:45 p.m in MH 2.01.44.