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African American Learner Encouraged to Think Deeply About Race

Sep 29, 2022

Photo: Members of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, celebrating Black Women’s Wellness Day in 2021.

Course: Anti-Black Racism in the U.S. and Building a Unified Society
Faculty Mentor: June Manning Thomas

by Dennis Stafford

The Anti-Black Racism course has fundamentally impacted my understanding of Race, the history of Racism, those institutions that serve to perpetuate it, and the spiritual implications of its practice. Having had the bounty of reading and reviewing all foundational materials, I believe to try and touch on all subject matter presented would do it an injustice; rather, I’ll focus on those things that had the greatest impact on how I think, what I think, and my actions going forth.

In one of the Sunday Zoom sessions, I commented that somehow, being African American made me an expert on the materials presented. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it’s that which brought me to my first revelation: just because you experience a thing, doesn’t mean you know a thing. And for all African Americans, having a sense of how we got here is paramount in knowing how to navigate the way going forward.

While all of the material was impactful, I found the section on “Black Women In the US” to be particularly insightful. That Black women have to deal with injustice as a result of being both Black and a woman is something I knew but honestly had never critically examined. How could I have not known the incredible role Black women played in the women’s suffrage movement, or the powerful concept of “Womanism”? The things I’ve learned have already begun impacting both my words and actions with, for, and on behalf of Black women.  

In closing, I would like to reflect on the TED Talk given by novelist Chimamanda Adichie, entitled “The Danger of a Single Story.” In less than 20 minutes, she aptly points out how having too narrow a perception prevents us from truly knowing a person and can also lead to unfounded stereotypes. I also believe this applies more broadly to the issue of racism in America. So many of us hold prejudiced views about others based on media, propaganda, and misinformation. I am incredibly grateful that this course has allowed me to think much more deeply and critically on the subject of race, my role in it, and ways in which I can elevate the conversation.

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Dennis Stafford

Dennis is a member of the Bahá’í  Faith and believes in a just and verdant world. He is also the proud father of an accomplished, adult daughter who’ll always be his little girl .

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