In this chapter, we have explored the history and context that led to the creation of Black Studies, as well as some of the important concepts and scholarship that have come out of this area. The core theories and ideas presented in Black Studies, including Panafricanism, Black Power, Black Nationalism, discrimination, double consciousness, and controlling images, are central to a clear and truthful analysis of Black communities’ experiences and political context. Black Studies is rooted in liberation struggles, and this has led to the creation of theories and concepts that respond to and integrate the wisdom gained through intergenerational movements for social change. In this context, we can apply theory and knowledge produced by Black communities to describe critical events, histories, cultures, intellectual traditions, contributions, and lived experiences, with a particular emphasis on agency and group affirmation.
While racialization is central to Black identity, this chapter has also shown us the importance of intersectionality, and the significance of multiple interlocking systems, including class, gender, sexuality, religion, and spirituality. For example, gender roles have historically structured the assumptions about who can lead in what ways when it comes to social movement organizing. Religious institutions have long played an important role in Black communities, ranging from social services and economic prosperity to political organizing and community development. In contemporary movements, churches still play an important role, and young activists have also established multiple sites of influence and resources that are used for advocacy and social change. With these tools in mind, we are all better equipped to stand in solidarity with Black leaders advocating for change and finding ways to contribute directly to a more just and equitable society in our own communities and spaces.
- Garveyism: An ideology centered on the thinking of Marcus Garvey, which emphasized pride, empowerment, and economic prosperity for Black communities.
- Black Power: A movement and political belief system that emphasizes building Black-serving institutions and leaders. The term Black Power was coined by Stokely Carmichael during a speech after being arrested for the 27th time in 1966.
- Black Nationalism: An ideology that emphasizes pride in being Black, economic self-sufficiency, and Black separatism.
- Panafricanism: The foundation for the idea of Blackness and Black identity, which brings together the experience of people's heritage. This includes African people, African immigrants, and communities with origins on the African continent that have been enslaved, trafficked, and settled in various parts of the world, especially in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America.
- Civil Rights Movement: A group working toward equality and legal rights for a marginalized group. Most commonly referring to the movement of organizations led by African Americans in the U.S. between the 1940s and 1970s that advocated for equality in education, employment, housing, voting, and other major civil rights areas.
- De Jure Racial Discrimination: Legally sanctioned discrimination that is supported by existing laws and political belief systems. De jure discrimination is the opposite of de facto discrimination, which is discrimination that happens due to structural patterns but not as a result of explicitly biased laws.
- Double Consciousness: The psychological impact of living in a racist society for African Americans in the years following the end of slavery. Specifically, double consciousness means the way that Black people have to see themselves through the lens of a racist society, in addition to an authentic self-perception and identity.
- Transatlantic Triangular Trade: The economic system that supported the colonization of the United States and the Americas by European countries. This arrangement exploited the people and natural resources of West Africa and the eastern segments of North, Central, and South America for the financial benefit and production of industrialization in Europe and European colonies.
- Chattel Slavery: The specific form of slavery in which the children of enslaved people are automatically considered to be slaves themselves. This system contributed to the creation of racial categories in colonial America.
- Three-Fifths Compromise: A decision in the 1787 U.S. Constitutional Convention that determined that while enslaved people were not eligible to vote, they would be counted toward the population when determining the number of representatives from each state, but only at 3/5th the rate of the free, white population. This meant that slave-owning states would have increased representation based on the number of enslaved people in their state despite those people not being represented in elections.
- Underground Railroad: A network of anti-slavery activists who operated to provide safe hiding spaces and routes of travel for self-emancipated people who were fleeing to places where slavery was not legal so they could begin life anew. This included Canada, Mexico, and for a period of time, the Spanish-controlled colony of Florida.
- 1619 Project: A project by historian Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times that recognized and investigated the 400th anniversary of racialized slavery in the United States. The project has become the target of conservative attempts to censor discussions of race, history, slavery, and racial disparities today.
- Freedmen’s Bureau: A federal agency that operated in the years following the U.S. Civil War to support recently freed communities of Black people in the southern United States. Despite early successes, the program was completely eliminated.
- Black Codes: Laws that created restrictions on Black people’s abilities to own property, conduct business, lease land, and move freely through public spaces. These regulations worked to keep separate the established white society from the lives of Black people.
- Jim Crow Era: A time where public institutions actively established racial segregation. Despite the promises of the 14th and 15th Amendment that Black people would enjoy the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship, segregation created an explicitly tiered version of citizenship. The Courts upheld this doctrine through the notion of “separate but equal,” which was codified in the 1896 decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. The term "Jim Crow" refers to minstrel shows where white actors would wear Blackface and portray negative stereotypes of Black men.
- Black Wall Street: The Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was home to many thriving Black-owned businesses and families prior to being targeted by white supremacists in 1921 who massacred the area over two days, with hundreds missing or dead. It was one of the deadliest acts of terrorism in U.S. history.
- New Jim Crow: A book by legal scholar Michelle Alexander that demonstrates the historical continuity between the systems of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and mass incarceration today.
- Disproportionality: How representation differs greatly compared to other groups or others within a group
- Affirmative Action: An approach to achieving equity in public institutions, companies, and other organizations that experienced considerable resistance. Affirmative action includes practices meant to eliminate historical patterns of discrimination and to provide corrective adjustments that recognize the barriers faced by historically underrepresented groups.
- Controlling Images of Black Women: A perspective coined by sociologist Patricia Hill Collins that emphasizes the constellation of stereotypes that work to control and subordinate Black women in public society, including the Mammy, the Matriarch, and the Welfare Queen.
- Black Lives Matter: A movement of activists and organizations around the world that advocate against police brutality and killing of Black people. The movement has become a centerpiece in contemporary struggles for rights, equity, justice, and recognition.
- Black Feminism: The tradition of Black women using intellectual, social, cultural, and political strategies to end violence and exploitation.
- Combahee River Collective: A group of women, including prominent Black lesbians, who wrote a collective statement demonstrating their political analysis and commitment to addressing interlocking structures of discrimination, including sexism, heterosexism, and racism.
- Describe some forms of resistance from the Black community whether during slavery, Reconstruction, contemporary times, etc.
- Discuss the experience of slavery.
- Explain how structural inequality, inequality through policies and laws within government, health, schooling, media, etc. subordinated Black Americans.
- How do Black Power, Black Nationalism, Black Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and Black Feminism contribute to uplifting the Black community and also for sub-identities within the Black community?
- How was the Civil Rights Movement significant in the history of Black progress?
- How do the struggles of Black women show other dimensions of Black experiences?
- Compare the Freedmen's Bureau and affirmative action as efforts to rectify past injustices.
- Black activists have engaged in a long history of high-risk activism. This means that taking action, stepping up, and demanding social change incurs complex risk. The immediate risk could include physical violence, negative reactions, and direct resistance from police, white supremacists, and bystanders. Beyond the immediate risks of protest, being involved in social change efforts has also meant risking one’s job and housing, and putting one’s family in danger. Reflecting on what you learned in this chapter, what factors influence groups to take on these risks? Consider the larger political context, as well as how organizations and movements support each other in the face of external threats.
- Identify a piece of media (artwork, song, podcast, book, article, poem, etc.) that was created by a Black artists. In writing, provide a description of the media and the artist, along with your interpretation of the piece’s significance. This may include commentary and analysis related to race, as well as other topics. You should consider how the artists’ own experience and perspective may influence their creation.
- Locate clips of movies with Black women characters. Using the "Black Women's Representation" section, students will identify whether the characters fall into the controlling images and why/why not. Students can also compare movies directed or written by Black women and compare them to others. This can be done with movies, tv, music, videos, commercials, etc.