Why I Majored in Africana Studies

John West Jr. ’23

I chose Africana studies because it offers a new revolutionary and interdisciplinary approach to discussing social issues present in the U.S. today. More specifically this department was one of the ways that I feel I am able to directly make an impact and improve the lives of Black people in my own community.

Africana studies is a department that sits within the academy; however, the foundation of Africana studies is in direct opposition with the academy and remains a symbol of struggle for academic autonomy. The department in my opinion is centered on empathy and the professors are eager to always chat and support students through direct involvement. Many faculty in this department are veterans at their respective institutions and this gives them an advantage when it comes to mentorship opportunities. The department is centered around community and as Black students in the 5Cs this allows us to connect ancestry to history and study the complex relationships people of the African diaspora have on this planet past and present.

I am focusing a lot on Black Feminist work and the way this theoretical framework is deconstructing the social construction of society. More specifically I am looking at the media as a tool of oppression reinforcing subordination through controlling images as referenced by Patricia Hill Collins. Looking at the ways society is socially constructed will allow me to further analyze the relationship between education and Black adolescence in America.

Engaging with Africana studies professors leaves a sense of relief and amazement as we find commonality within higher education and find intellectuals fueling our growing cultural criticism.