Production of Sub–immersion—sub-internationalization Identity Through African American Studies

Production of Sub–immersion—sub-internationalization Identity Through African American Studies

Abstract

” race” is a misleading word since there is no” race “that is composed of biologically pure individuals because of the human migration and the interracial births. Also different ethnicities don `t have pure culture because people with different ethnicities shared and share cultural heritage. And although these two (race and ethnicity) are different since one is considered biological and the other is considered cultural but the two sometimes go hand in hand like when we face to” identity “and “racism” .

This belief of racism that one racial category is superior or inferior to another , is a stereotype. Stereotypes are n` t only negative but also positive and they are n `t only toward out-groups but also toward in-group. Also the feedbacks of one in-group or minorities to the others` stereotypes sometimes can cause to strengthen and aggravate stereotypes.

According to this approach, In this article I try to explain that although one of the major aim of establishing African American studies is to challenge racism and racial discrimination , but as its courses and syllabus show, they (scholars) have accepted stereotypes of out –group about themselves and they believe in “blackness” as a “race” because they have overly separated their culture from American culture and ignored acculturation between African American culture and American culture .

Thus this ignoring is a feedback to out-group stereotypes and it itself is an in-group stereotype which prevent African Americans to make a internationalization-commitment identity but a sub-immersion— sub-internationalization identity.

Black Racial Identity

“They are all like that”, it is a common term when we tend to classify people who are n `t in our in -group. ( out-group homogeneity theory).

But why and how do we classify people? ( I will examine this issue in another essay)

And most important than this question is that who are “we” that tend to separate “we” from “others”?

As I will examine this issue in this essay in the case of African American studies:

First African Americans accept themselves as “we” , so they believe in black racial identity

Second although one of the aim of African American studies is to challenge racial discrimination and racism , but as courses show ,it represents the racial view of African Americans ( although scholars)

Third African American studies strengthen the racial view and blackness as a race.

As Cross( Bobo,2004) described , black racial identity development has five stages :

1- Preencounter : African American has absorbed many of the beliefs and values of dominant white culture – white is right , black is wrong

2- encounter: [ ]events forces the individual to acknowledge the impact of racism in one` s life.

3- Immersion: everything of value in life must be black or relevant to blackness, avoiding of symbols of whiteness

4- Internationalization: establishing meaningful relationship with white who acknowledge a positive sense of racial identity

5- Internationalization-Commitment: translating personal sense of blackness into a general sense of commitment

But African American studies seems to recede partly to third stage- immersion stage – that I claim it strengthens a new kind of identity which I call it ” sub- immersion –sub- internationalization”.

Concept Of Stereotype

According to stereotypes theory when we change the stereotypes, we do in one of three ways:

1- book keeping model: adjusting the stereotypes to adapt to the new information

2- conversion model: throwing away the old stereotype and start again

3- subtyping model: creating a new stereotype that is a sub- classification of the existing stereotype

but I `d like to add another way of changing the stereotypes regarding to given new kind of African American identity ; sub immersion- sub internationalization:

4- addition model : keeping old stereotype ,adding new information

We not only create stereotypes about others but about ourselves. As it is evident in the case of African American Studies , they keep the sense of blackness and add internationalization ,but not blackness nor internationalization change each other .

I examine my hypothesis in four universities and college: Boston University,Yale University ,University of Visconssin–Madison and Bates College.(although their courses are n `t the same but they are very similar)

At first the courses seem to be neutral :

AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY FROM THE BEGINNINGS TO EMANCIPATION,

AFRICAN SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS,

THE CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION ERA, 1845 – 1877,

THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE,

AFRICAN AMERICAN POLITICS,

FREEDOM AND IDENTITY IN BLACK CULTURES,

MEMORY/IDENTITY IN THE BLACK U.S,

MICROCOSM OF BLACK CREATIVITY,

CULTURAL POLITICS

GENDER,RACE,AND SCIENCE

AFRICAN AMERICAN CINEMA,

MINORITY IN HOLLYWOOD FILM,

AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE,

AFRICAN AMERICAN POPULAR MUSIC,

JAZZ IN TRANSITION, 1960 – 1980,

JAZZ AND FILM,

TWENTIETH-CENTURY AFRICAN AMERICAN POETRY,

THE AFRICAN AMERICAN NOVEL

BLACK WOMAN IN MUSIC,

TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN DANCE .

CARIBBEAN LIVES: PSYCHO-SOCIAL ASPECTS,

FIELD METHODS IN CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY,

THEORY AND METHOD IN AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES

…

…

…

But let to examine the description of some courses:

White redemption: cinema and the co-optation of African American history:

Since its origins in the early twentieth century, film has debated how to represent black suffering,.this course examines one aspect of that debate: the persistent themes of white goodness ,innocence , and blamelessness in films that are allegedly about black history and culture .historical and cultural topics examined in film include the enslavement of Africans , reconstruction , and the civil rights movement .particular attention is given to films in the Interracial male- buddy genre.

RACE AND MEDICINE IN AMERICA:

An examination of the history of race and medicine in the United States, primarily but not exclusively focused on African Americans’ encounters with the health care system. Topics include slavery and health; doctors, immigrants, and epidemics; the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the use of minorities as research subjects; and race and genetic disease.

As we see ” AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES” ignores interaction between African American culture and American culture.

Interaction Models & Crosscultural Models

If we link categories of black racial identity development to interaction models and crosscultural models( Nishida,1999) and then evaluate and judge about African Ameriacn Studies according to this ,will find out a new fact:

1- Genocide model , segregation model, adaptaion model and assimilation model

with preencounter identity

2- resistance with encounter and immersion identity

3- acculturation model and pluralism model with internationalization and inter

nationalization –commitment identity

Now we will find out that African American Studies has ignored dealing with cultural interactions and acculturation in this discipline and its courses . There is no courses about multiculturalism , interactions between African culture and American culture ,and about effects of American culture on African culture.

So identity in this discipline instead of going to internationalization –commitment identity stage, reverts and recedes to immersion stage and reproducing resistance interactions .

Thus this discipline produces a new kind of identity which I called it “sub immersion –sub internationalization” identity .

Conclusion :

As explained ,one of the most important aim of establishing African American Studies had been going ahead to the stage of internationalization-commitment identity through pluralism (interaction model) and regarding to acculturation (crosscultural model), but because of a misleading change of out-group `stereotypes ,it causes to recede partly to the immersion identity stage.

According to a new type of changing stereotype which I called it “addition model’ ,African Americans (scholars) kept the old sense of blackness (as a race) and add internationalization to it.

This caused a new but monstrous type of identity which is not an immersion identity nor an internationalization-commitment identity ; but sub-immersion—sub-internationalization identity.

So this discipline instead of developing internationalization – commitment identity , strengthens the racial view and blackness as a race .

But here there is one important question:

Since this process occurs in academy ,what is its influence in society ?Its answer can be explained in another essay.

Notes:

1- Four model of interaction among racial and ethnic categories;

Pluralism: Pluralism is a state in which racial and ethnic minorities are

distinct but have social parity. Pluralism is the goal of our society’s recent

trend toward multiculturalism

Assimilation : Assimilation is the process by which minorities gradually

adopt patterns of the dominant culture.

Segregation : Segregation refers to the physical and social separation of

categories of people. Until the early 1960’s, the Jim Crow laws formally

segregated hotels, restaurants, parks, buses and even drinking fountains

Genocide… The most brutal form of racism is the genocide which is the

systematic annihilation of one category of people by another

2- crosscultural models:

Adaptation: process of change over time that take place within individuals

who have completed their primary socialization process in one culture and

then come into continuous

assimulation: it is uni- directional process toward the host culture and

requires value changes

acculturation:it is a bi-directional process and doesn `t require changes in

values.

References

1-Bobo,J.Hudley,C.Michel,C,2004,THE BLACK STUDIES READER,NewYork,Routledge,pp.397-400.

2-Nishida,H,1999,A Cognition Approach to Intercultural Communaication Based on Schema Theory,Int.J.Intercultural Rel,Vol.23,No.5,p 762

http://www.bates.edu/AAS-courses.xml

http://www.bu.edu/bulletins/und/item13d3.html

http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/stereotypes.htm

http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/out-group_homogeneity.htm

http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/aas/courses/index.htm

http://www.yale.edu/afamstudies/courselisting.html

Mitra Naeimi

Course: Ethnology of America

MA student of North American Studies

Tehran University

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