Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

From as early as the Transatlantic slave trade through the present day, depictions of Black men in society remain contested. Blackness as both an identity and subject matter is one that people shy away from in conversations and everyday interactions. The globalizing anti- Black sentiment is one that continues to stifle purported racial progress while promoting the illusion of a post-racial ideal – or that (1) there is meritocracy within major institutions of power that remain pejorative and (2) we no longer need to discuss or reference race, let alone Blackness, as contextualizing factors shaping our increasingly divisive world. Ongoing debates around racial realism (the realities of and truth-speaking about race) call for increasing our collective race consciousness. Still, there remains a gross and glaring underrepresentation of positive portrayals and depictions of Blackness in society, especially at the intersection of gender, class, and place. Blackness is more than a monolith. Blackness is also more than a demographic marker of difference or quantitative variable. Blackness is robust, dynamic, and has nuanced understandings at multiple cross-sections of identity. It's important to reimagine Blackness as a worldview; a perspective of/on life; a history; a rich culture; and as something that uniquely constructs space in society for all peoples in and beyond the diaspora. The work of Rashad Shabazz (2015) examines how architectures of confinement, which represent a complex of surveillance, coercion, and control tactics, intersect with Blackness, gender, and place. This course will offer students a new way of imagining Blackness, gender constructs, place, and power while giving attention to their major construction sites, histories, politics, and cultures.

Student Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to: 1. Examine the role of history, place, and space in shaping Blackness and its intersections with other identity markers, like gender, class, and sexuality 2. Gain a deeper theoretical understanding of what Blackness is and how it functions in society 3. Challenge our pre-conceived notions about Blackness and gain a toolkit that we can use to center and uplift the Black experience moving forward, especially within racialized, exclusionary, and powerful spaces