Teaching about Anti-Black Racism from Elon’s History
Anti-Black racism takes many forms. Sometimes it is overt and personal, and sometimes it is systemic–simmering below the surface but constraining opportunities and assaulting people’s dignity. We often study anti-Black racism as if it were only external–out there somewhere, in business or government, but not in institutions of higher education, and certainly not at Elon.
Uncovering and confronting white supremacy at Elon, in its various manifestations over time, reminds us of the extraordinary pervasiveness of anti-Black racism. It also makes us literate about the ways in which systemic racism has played out in real institutions, even and especially among people of goodwill. The ability to notice anti-Black racism in the past, we hope, will also make it easier for us to notice and confront it in the present. Finally, and essentially, another story runs alongside the narrative of anti-Black racism: the story of Black resilience and achievement. These stories, too, have been muted, and excavating them is part and parcel of the work.
At the heart of this project are several collections of carefully curated primary and secondary sources built around key episodes or “teachable moments” in Elon’s history. Faculty may build individual classes or units around these teachable moments and will find everything from sample assignments to possible readings. Anyone, however, may learn by reading the sources, considering the timelines, and reflecting on the power of race in the not-so-distant past. We hope this online archive will grow as faculty, staff, students, and alumni contribute new information and that it will equip us all to see anti-Black racism more clearly.