Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Black Masculinity as "topic" or "week"

First, thank you for being professional and awesome during our last class, which I missed somewhat unexpectedly. And thank you to our discussion leaders and facilitators for making it work so effectively even without me there (shows how much you need me;).

Anyway, I haven't looked at all the notes but did talk to a few people about class, as I anxiously awaited hearing about how everything went. So I wanted to comment on an issue that was addressed in class that I wished I could have been there for (among other things!):

Black Masculinity as a "week" or "topic": Of course every week that we address issues of masculinity, we are actually talking about all men, which include black men (African-American, Haitian, Jamaican, mixed, male of color, none of the above, or however one identifies). But since many issues related to gender and race/masculinity and race warrant further exploration and discussion, I feel a week (at least a week--I mean, we could definitely have an entire semester devoted to "black masculinity" or any of our subtopics, for that matter) FOCUSED on these issues is necessary. We watched "Beyond Beats and Rhymes" during a week devoted to some other aspect of masculinities but the film itself focused on African-American men and hip hop specifically. I didn't make us wait to watch it until we got to "the week" on black masculinities, and we could have spread the texts from last week out over the other weeks more generally focusing on masculinity. But I feel it is important to spend time linking and addressing and fleshing out issues related to race/masculinity in a discussion devoted to just that. There are so many issues to address in this class because masculinity (like gender in general) includes a plethora of individuals and groups--related to sexuality, race, class, and other categories. But one must organize a class when one teaches and this is how I chose to organize ours. It is inclusive even though it is "divided" up in ways that might be considered problematic by some. I mean, really--REALLY--what can't be considered problematic in a class that explores gender and other constructed categories? Welcome to my world;). The same goes for discussions about sexuality, trans-issues, class, etc. We cannot talk about everything each week but we should try to cover as much as possible over the course of the semester. We must follow some semblance of organization or breakdown or it will not be an effective class that covers the broad range of issues that should be included. Might some be left out? Of course. Might some not receive as much focus as one might wish? Most likely. Can everyone be happy about how classes operate all the time? Obviously not. So most of us profs do what human beings can do...the best we can. I definitely take feedback into consideration for future classes. Esp. because this is the first time the class has been taught, I am always open for input and resources (if you have readings or films or other suggestions for future classes, please email me!).

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