Editor's Note: This article originally published in WUSSY Rag has been edited to reflect recent updates on the story.
Peering into the arena of seemingly more subverted news, there have been echoes stating that Kennesaw State University (KSU) has planned to discontinue its African and African Diaspora Studies program. This decision comes to the confusion and dismay of many students and faculty, as the news hits from, what feels like, out of nowhere. Several professors have been left out of the loop as well, so an air of business-as-usual has veiled the university’s intentions. The timing already being a period of high stress and fatigue has some feeling that this move was strategically enacted. An inconclusive but not out of the ordinary narrative. Either way this calls for much more scrutiny on the matter.
KSU claims the reason for this removal is due to budget cuts, but this scapegoat reasoning doesn’t discount the fact that an entire program—developed to give better knowledge, more space and understanding of black histories and effects of its dismemberment—is deemed unimportant enough to chop. In a world that has seen anti-blackness as the undercurrent of a global societal view, you’d think this is an obvious route not to take. Not to mention stories, effects and overall inclusion of narratives that involve actions taken at the expense of black bodies, land, and nations throughout history should be of higher priority in our main studies of history anyways, but I guess that’s more of a personal viewpoint as I am of the heavily marginalized and oppressed group *eyeroll*. At the very least, notification and input from students and faculty should also be of more note.
After receiving the news, Aleaka Cooper and Kelsey Jones, both students at KSU, decided to take a further look into the case. They say, ”So far we were made aware that the meetings and planning of the deactivation have been occurring since November though faculty, staff, and students in the department were not notified until April 17,2017. We know that their reasoning is low numbers but the number are inaccurate.”
Programs such as this were not even considered as viable school programing without movements bringing to life the importance of these studies in academia in the first place. The Black Student Movement of the 1960’s, for instance, birthed a much wider move towards giving space for these studies in many campuses. That fervor does not die today. While many media outlets have remained on the quieter side of this conflict, an ongoing line of protests and resistance can be seen. Hashtags #KSUBringBlackBack and #KSUAntiBlackAttack tell a story of many who feel deeply betrayed by this, but will not go quietly. We will be looking at developments on this closely, but by no means should the deletion of black studies, space, and histories be taken lightly. We are well past the time to act up.
“What we want is a written statement, signed and dated implicating they will allow the African and African Diaspora Studies Major to remain a major on this campus, that they will work with faculty and staff to keep it here which would include hiring more staff so more classes can be opened, allowing more funding and scholarships, and an end goal of ours is to make the program it's own department and not just a program on the list of many so that there can be a department chair dedicated to the existence and perpetuation of African and African Diaspora Studies” say Cooper and Jones.
KSU has agreed to grant the program one more year. According to a statement from the office of Kennesaw State Provost, Ken Harmon, they will evaluate enrollment again in 2018.
“KSU officials are hopeful enrollments will increase so that deactivation is not necessary,” the statement said. If not, the program may be terminated next Spring.
Matt Jones is your average carefree black boi, community worker, and sensei. As an Atlanta based artist he dreams to foster community and advocate real change for issues involving but not limited to mental health, queer life, and POC disparity.