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Teach-In, Too! On Race and Human Community

by Aimee Mepham, Program Coordinator, WFU Humanities Institute

On Tuesday, March 31st, the WFU Humanities Institute hosted its second teach-in of the 2015 spring semester after receiving requests from students to host a repeat event. “Teach-In, Too! On Race and Human Community” took place from 7:00-8:00pm in several classrooms throughout the WFU campus and was followed by further, informal conversation at a reception in the Lower Auditorium of Wingate Hall.TeachInMHP

Following the format of the first teach-in, each session focused on a topic and included a short reading that a faculty member selected for students to read prior to the discussion. The following is a list of the faculty participants and their selected readings:

Jonathan Cardi (Law)
Reading: Jerry Kang, “Trojan Horses of Race”

Michele Gillespie (History)
Reading: Vivian M. May, “Anna Julia Cooper: Black Feminist Scholar, Educator, and Activist” and Anna Julia Cooper, “Discussion of the Same Subject”

Melissa Harris-Perry (Politics & International Affairs)
Reading: Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Color”

Derek Hicks (Divinity School)
Reading: Derek Hicks, “The Debasement Campaign” from Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition

David Levy (Music)
Reading: Richard Wagner, Das Rheingold, Scene One.

Ron Neal (Religion)
Reading: Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations” from The Atlantic, June 2014

Tanisha Ramachandran (Religion)
Reading: Andrea Smith, “Heteropatriarachy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing” from Color of Violence: the Incite! Anthology

Erica Still (English)
Reading: Randall Kenan, “The Foundations of the Earth” from Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

Ulrike Wiethaus (Religion and American Ethnic Studies)
Reading: Gregory A. Cajete, “Decolonizing Indigenous Education in a Twenty-First Century World” from For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook

About 90 students attended this event, and the response was, again, positive and enthusiastic. As one student was heard saying to another, while they were making their way to their respective sessions: “You tell me about yours, and I’ll tell you about mine!” Another student at the reception commented, “I’m just so thankful to have faculty who come out at 7 p.m. to talk with us about these issues!”

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The students expressed the interest and need to continue this conversation and to communicate the issues discussed at the teach-in to students who did not attend. The Humanities Institute hopes to continue to facilitate continuing dialogues and is exploring the possibility of convening faculty-student co-curricular reading groups on race during the Fall 2015 semester.