I read this article a couple of weeks ago, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Basically, students at the School of African and Oriental Studies want to decolonize the College’s curricula by including nonwhite thinkers. I really like the movement, but I think that the conversation needs to be move beyond “including PoC because nonwhite thinkers have a lot to say about race.” Here are some of my thoughts:
- Just like white thinkers, PoC not only talk about race, they also talk about other issues such as economics, politics and education.
- The idea of “including” nonwhite thinkers goes back to W.E.B DuBois’ discussion on if nonwhite people (specifically Black people) have contributed to their societies. Assuming that PoC must be “forced” into the curricula is problematic because it suggests that there aren’t many nonwhite thinkers out there (which isn’t true).
- It’s tokenizing and obvious.
- A thinker’s exploration of race isn’t always there to “teach” a hypothetical white audience and these ideas might sometimes be meant for nonwhite audiences (so that’s it more of an opportunity to discuss things with people who share a common experience). A College like SOAS would definitely need more nonwhite thinkers for this very reason since it speaks to a specific type of experience.
- Talking about race shouldn’t be seen as always political (although nothing about education is apolitical) and as having a multicultural basis (Kante did write a whole book on different ethnicities!).
I have a lot to say about this, but this pretty much sums up what I think.