Why I Chose African American Studies as My Major at Eastern Michigan University —Shohei Isobe
In the write-up below, Shohei Isobe (see a picture of him on the right), an international student from Japan, shares with us his reasons for selecting African American Studies as his major at Eastern Michigan University. Mr. Isobe, who holds an overall GPA of 3.87, is currently the president of EMU’s Society for African American Studies, a networking organization made up of students who are majoring or minoring in African American Studies. This information is also available on our facebook page:
“I am from Japan. When I was a freshman in my Japanese university, I took a couple of classes related to Africa, but unfortunately my university offered no course related to African Americans. I continued to study by myself by reading books about Malcolm X, W.E.B. Dubois, Huey Newton and so forth. When I turned a junior, I passed the examination for a degree-seeking 2-year study abroad at Eastern Michigan University. Then, I took a look at the courses offered here and found the Department of Africology and African American Studies. My first impression was that this department offers various courses relevant to African and African Americans. Then, I looked at the courses more closely and found that I would get to learn about a range of topics, from African civilization to the health issues of African Americans, the effects of urbanization, and the importance of Hip-Hop lyricism. Therefore, I decided to make African American Studies my major at EMU.
My time here majoring in African American Studies is very precious because I can learn history, culture, and the current situations of African Americans from a different perspective that actually tells the truth. I got to learn about the importance of ancient Egyptian civilization and how those in power have been trying to convince us, falsely, that the ancient Egyptians were of the white race and, therefore, the First civilization belonged to whites. I got to learn about the oral tradition of Africa which survived the middle passage and is now flourishing in the United States in the form of rap. I got to learn in-detail about consequential leaders in African American history, such as W.E.B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. Now, I am really happy that I made the decision of coming to study here, and I would like to teach what I learned here in the future.”
During the 37th annual conference of the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS), which was held at Indianapolis, Indiana from March 13 to 16, 2013, Dr. Melvin Peters, Associate Professor of African American Studies, presented a paper at a roundtable session called "Transformative Afrocentric Education K- Through College: New Perspectives from Teachers and Professors in the Trenches." He presented with Kefentse Kwesi Chike of Wayne State University and Ahmad Rahman of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Entitled, "Fearing Afrocentric Curriculum: Stunting Black Children," Dr. Peters' presentation was "based on the educational research of Asa Hilliard, Janice Hale, Paulo Friere, William Watkins, Carter G. Woodson, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and others connected to my classroom experience past and present." Reporting on his presentation, Peters stated: "I dealt with experiences with public school youth team-teaching in Ypsilanti High School, in the various summer programs that Dr. Perry's grants helped create in the past, and based on my regular AAS/EMU teaching, including the work with the UPrep students the past two years." Congratulations to Dr. Peters!
During the 37th annual conference of the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS), which was held at Indianapolis, Indiana from March 13 to 16, 2013, Dr. Victor Okafor, Department Head and Professor of African American Studies, presented a paper on "Black Studies, African American Studies, Africana Studies or Africology? The debate about how to name the discipline revisited." In his presentation, Dr. Okafor reviewed existing literature on nomenclatural debates and discussions within the discipline of Africology/Africana Studies/Black Studies. He also summarized Eastern Michigan University's experience with the issue of naming the discipline, which culminated in a recent name change from the "Department of African American Studies" to the "Department of Africology and African American Studies."
During yesterday's March 22, 2013 Undergraduate Research Symposium at Eastern Michigan University, Dr. Victor Okafor sponsored two student presentations as follows.
Presenter: Kelsey Renee Goodman
Title of Presentation: Caught in the System: African Americans and the Prison Industrial Complex
Sponsor: Dr. Victor Okafor
Overtime, the prison industrial complex has become neo-slavery for the men and women of the African American community. With a disproportional presence in these facilities, Blacks have been unequally affected by the creation of a second-class citizenry via multiple facets, including disenfranchisement, the foster care system and lack of higher education. The adult populace is not the sole target in these communities of color as young Black children are also being pushed into the juvenile detention and prison institutions via the "school to prison pipeline" phenomenon. The abundance of Blacks in the prisons has stigmatized the race and made the road to advancement and re-entry difficult. Session C – Room 330 – Number 185
Presenter: Shantinique Shante Lowman
Title of Presentation; The Betrayal of Equal Rights that Were Deserved
Sponsor: Dr. Victor Okafor
The ending of slavery, the Reconstruction, and the rights of the freed slaves or "freedmen," as they called them in the 1860s, are controversial subjects. The things that we experienced as a country for the freedmen, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction that followed, are among the developments that made the Supreme Court what it is today. It's about the fight that African Americans fought for years and years for equal rights¬–the fight with the government, the fight with the Congress, the fight within the states, the fight during the Civil War and the fight inside the Supreme Court, etc. These are among the issues to be presented in this book review. Session B – Room 350 – Number 130
During yesterday's March 22, 2013 Undergraduate Research Symposium at Eastern Michigan University, Dr. Melvin Peters sponsored two student presentations as follows.
Presenter:Briana Christa Lynn McKoy
Title of Presentation: Black Comedy and the Weight of Misrepresentation: The Exaggeration of Black Life
Sponsor: Dr. Melvin Peters
The success of black comedy has heavily relied on negative and overly exaggerated stereotypes of its characters that date back to minstrelsy. This exaggeration, which includes circumscribed racist and sexist stereotypes, has made its way from blackface on stage to contemporary entertainers on YouTube. The responsibility of framing blackness has been largely disregarded by the entertainment industry. The purpose of this study is to navigate the historical trajectory of imagistic mistreatments, from yesterday's blackface to today's not so dissimilar black entertainment media. Session C – Room 344 – Number 193
Presenter: Shaquetta Morris
Title of Presentation: "Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks": Misogynistic Ideologies of Black Women in Hip-Hop
Sponsor: Dr. Melvin Peters
Mainstream hip-hop is a product of the contemporary White patriarch institution established in America and reflects the misogynistic ideologies of this institution. This presentation explores the history of the exploitation of Black women in America through mainstream hip-hop music. Research focuses on stereotypes of Black women, the legitimization of sexism by male artists, sexism on the part of female rappers and the societal effects of hip-hop sexism. Session C – Room 344 – Number 194
Three students who are majoring in African American Studies are amongst the college of Arts and Sciences' students who are on the Dean's list this winter, 2013 semester. They are Shohei Isobe, Gabrielle Simone Smith, and Lauryn Sharee Tidwell. In order to be recognized on the Dean's list, a student should have an overall minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.5. Congratulations to all three AAS majors.
Ms. Mikayla Beaudrie, who is scheduled to graduate in April, 2013 with a double major in African American Studies and English, has accepted a job as a reading and arts specialist. She was hired by Camp Ramapo, which is based in Rhinebeck, New York.
As a Reading and Arts Specialist, Ms. Beaudrie will be assisting in the literary and emotional development of children aged 6-16. She explained that "I anticipate helping children develop age appropriate social skills through literature and the arts, and language application."
She added that Camp Ramapo is designed with the needs of children with emotional impairments, many of whom have been diagnosed on the Autism spectrum.
Congratulations to Mikayla!
On Feb. 7, 2013, the department of Africology and African American Studies (AAAS) conducted the 5th edition of its annual expert panel evaluation of Barack Obama's presidency. The event, which took place at the Student Center on the Ypsilanti campus of Eastern Michigan University, featured both a keynote lecture by Dr. Ravi Perry and a follow-up panel discussion.Moderated by Dr. Victor Okafor, the panel discussion was carried out by Drs. Gregg Barak, Robert Perry, Barbara Patrick, Joseph Engwenyu, Ravi Perry and Political Blogger Eric Brown.
Three EMU students received cash prizes for the essays that they contributed to this year's annual campus-wide student essay competition on Barack Obama's presidency. For 2013, the winners are Alan J. Raupp-Laverty (1st prize of $100), Edward Patterson (2nd prize of $75), and Candace M. Adams (3rd prize of $50). The awards were presented by Dr. Kim schatzel, EMU's Provost and Vice president for Academic Affairs after her welcome remarks. Professor Tom Venner, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences also presented welcome remarks.
In his own welcome remarks, the Department Head of Africology and African American Studies, Dr. Victor Oguejiofor Okafor informed the audience that effective Winter, 2013, the department changed its name from African American Studies to Africology and African American Studies. Apart from the name change, the department re-structured the course requirements for majoring or minoring in African American Studies. Among the curricular changes is a mandatory internship for majors in African American Studies.
Title of essay
"Barack Obama: a Critical Appraisal of the Journey of the first African American President of the United States"
Write a 3-page and double-spaced essay on the above title, and submit it to Professor Victor Oguejiofor Okafor (firstname.lastname@example.org) as an email attachment.
Due Date for submission of essay
January 20, 2013
2nd prize: $75.00
3rd prize: $50.00
Winners of the essay prizes will be announced on February 7, 2013 during the opening session of the expert panel evaluation of Barack Obama's presidency scheduled to take place that day at the Student Center 310a&b from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The winner of the first prize will be invited to read his/her essay to the audience.
--a Black History Month Expert Panel Discussion--
Presented by the Department of Africology and African American Studies
Eastern Michigan University
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ravi Perry
Panelists: Barbara Patrick,Eric Brown, Joseph Engwenyu,Ravi Perry, Gregg Barak, Robert Perry
Moderator: Victor Okafor
Winners of a student essay contest on Obama's presidency to be announced!
Free refreshments available!
LBC credit approved!
Date & Time
February 7, 2013, 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Location: Student Center Rm. 310ab, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
If you have questions, contact Professor Victor Okafor, Head of the Department of Africology and African American Studies
March 19, 2012
Professor Robert Perry received an outstanding faculty plaque from the AAS Department Head during the department's honors convocation held on March 19, 2012. Presenting the plaque, Dr. Victor Okafor, DH, extolled Dr. Perry's long-standing and unweavering dedication and service to the department of African American Studies. He pointed out that in his service record, Dr. Perry places the interests of the department above his personal needs. Below is a picture of the award presentation. On the left is Dr. Perry, and on the right is Dr. Okafor.
March 19, 2012
The department of African American Studies recognized and honored several AAS majors and minors for their outstanding academic achievements at its honors convocation held at Halle library on Monday, March 19, 2012. Among them were graduating students, including a student who completed requirements for the graduate certificate in AAS. The group picture below includes the honorees.Honored students For additional pictures of the event, visit AAS On Facebook.
Pictures of the AAS Expert Panel Discussion on Barack Obama's presidency
Feb. 1, 2012
Click to view a slide presentation of the photos:
Pictures of the 2012 AAS expert panel evaluation of Obama's presidency
You Tube's link for the Recent AAS academic presentation On the Causes and Consequences of Racism
October 20, 2011
This past October 20, 2011, the department of African American Studies, Eastern Michigan University presented an academic program on the causes and consequences of racism in observance of 2011 as a United Nations-proclaimed "International Year for People of African Descent." Featured speakers: Dr. Joe Feagin, Dr. Melvin Peters, Attorney Mark Fancher, Dr. Liza Cerroni-Long, Dr. Robert Perry, Dr. Ana Ferreira, Dr. Nora Martin, and Professor Ronald Woods. President Susan Martin and Dean Thomas Venner provided welcoming remarks, while Dr. Victor Okafor moderated the discussion. Below is the You Tube link for the video record of this event.
AAS Students On the Dean's List
Three AAS majors are on the latest Dean's list of academically superior students. They are Brandon J. Britt, Lauryn S. Tidwell and Toccara L. Walker. Warm congratulations to these students for this well-deserved recognition!
The Department of Africology and African American Studies is part of the College of Arts & Sciences, 214 Pray-Harrold, 734.487.4344