Jackson & King collaborate in "The Critical Black Studies Reader"

Black Studies
January 30, 2017

Professors John L. Jackson and Toni C. King are the authors of a chapter in a groundbreaking text on the field of Black Studies. The text is entitled: The Critical Black Studies Reader. The publisher’s website describes the book as stretching “the boundaries of knowledge and understanding of issues critical to the Black experience.”

The book is edited by: Rochelle Brock, Ph.D., Professor and Department Chair of Educational Leadership & Cultural Foundations at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Dara Nix-Stevenson, Ph.D., a teacher-scholar-activist who has taught high school biology and environmental science since 1998 at various public and private schools, and Paul Chamness Miller, Professor of International Liberal Arts in the English for Academic Purposes program at Akita International University in Japan. Additionally, the publisher’s website shares praise for this book by stating: this Reader puts forth an exciting collection of writing that celebrates the myriad contributions of Black life, culture, and theory in the last hundred years …” and is “a well-crafted edition of scholarship that honors the wisdom and magic of Black Studies.”

Jackson’s and King’s collaborative piece in this distinctive volume is entitled: “Legba, Black Studies and Critical White Studies: Teaching Critical Thinking at the Crossroads” grows directly out of their experiences teaching the Introduction to Black Studies course at Denison. They have worked together over the years to develop very specific teaching modules used in the individual sections they teach. They draw on this experience to conceptualize a typology of Student Resistance in the Black Studies Classroom and offer a set of pedagogical responses to help students move through this resistance and the accompanying critical-thinking outcomes.

Finally, their chapter proposes that along with African-centered Black Studies theories and methods, selective use of critical white studies theoretical frameworks helps students across differences of race and ethnicity move through personal or collective resistance in the classroom, make theoretical sense of classr oom interaction, and critically engage material to get beyond the socialized race and gendered messages that affect intellectual analysis. Because this article is based on helping students grow intellectually, and communicate at the intricate crossroads of race and learning, the authors use the metaphor of “Legba” an African deity considered to be the god of entrances…In Africa he is the god of communication… (Barrett 1974, p.20). Their study was based on qualitative data, collected over a three-year period from 270 students.

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