7 College Courses That Are Black AF

A number of American universities are recognizing the significance of contemporary black culture by working it into their syllabi. 

From courses centered on Beyoncé and Kanye West to lessons on the Black Lives Matter movement, these classes serve as a breath of conscious air for students at universities throughout the nation.

While they are certainly no remedy for the decades-long erasure of black history in the classroom, they do offer students the opportunity to learn more about modern icons and movements in black America.

In the final day of Black History Month, we couldn’t think of a more fitting time to give props to these higher-ed courses for being black AF. 

The majority of these are currently in session, and for those that aren’t, we’re hoping they’ll make a comeback: 

1. “Exploring the Lyrics of OutKast and Trap Music to Explore Politics of Social Justice,” Georgia Tech

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OutKast has been credited with putting “Southern hip-hop on the map.”

Although OutKast may be best remembered for channeling the guilt that comes along with breaking up with someone’s child in the 2000 hit “Ms. Jackson,” the former Atlanta duo has also produced more politically charged songs, which are now the basis for a new Georgia Tech course.

The course ― which is a requirement for social justice minors ― uses the music of Outkast and other hip-hop artists as a study into social issues. 

OutKast is also the center of an Armstrong State University course that explores how the pair’s “ideas about the South and southernness seep into other Southern writers.” The final project in this course is a 12-15 page analysis of a hip-hop album by Outkast or other artists because … it’s still college. 

2. “Black Women and Beyoncé,” University of Texas at San Antonio

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Writer and educator Candice Benbow created the “Lemonade” syllabus in May, which is available online.

There’s little room for debate that Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” offered creative insight into the lives and experiences of black women. So why wouldn’t a university located in her native state transform the album into a full-blown collegiate course?

The course, which was offered at the university last fall, uses Bey’s latest album as the focal point in a study of black feminism.

3. “The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics,” Washington University

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Prior to the course’s creation, professor Jeffrey McCune said his students would always bring up Kanye West in discussions.

Kanye West has engaged in some questionable behavior throughout the years, but nonetheless, Washington University professor Jeffrey McCune has credited him with exemplary black genius. Topics in the course are inspired by lyrics from West’s music and include: “Who is Kanye West and Why is He in the Flashing Lights?” and “Love Lock Down, or Hip-Hop’s Queer Love Languages.”

The course will examine West’s contributions to hip-hop and serve as a gateway to discussions on larger issues of identity and politics. 

4. “Race, Class, and Power: University Course on Ferguson and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement,” University of Miami

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The University of Miami is just one of a number of schools to offer a course in BLM.

Colleges throughout the nation have been recognizing the importance of the Black Lives Matter agenda. One of the first lessons in Miami’s Spring 2017 BLM course was titled “Radical Black/Queer Feminist Traditions in #BLM,” in acknowledgement of the movement’s two queer co-founders.

5. “African American Resistance in the Era of Donald Trump,” Oregon State University

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The increase in the nation’s bigoted rhetoric has been widely attributed to the rise of President Donald Trump.

In the timeliest of fashions, Oregon State professor Dr. Dwaine Plaza created this course as a roadmap to resisting the white supremacist ideas that have been on full display throughout the nation since the election of President Donald Trump

Students in the course will read Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander, and learn about the “evolution of modern racism.”

6. “Black Lives Matter,” New York University

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Guest lectures for the fall 2016 semester included activists Marc Lamont Hill and DeRay McKesson

NYU professor Frank Leon Roberts’ BLM class ― which began in the fall of 2015 ― was not only among the first of its kind, but also offers lectures from the class online for the general public.

The course has included studies in mass incarceration, the 2016 election and #SayHerName as they relate to the BLM movement. For the Spring 2017 semester, Roberts took the course beyond NYU for The BLM Syllabus Tour

7. “The Power of Black Self-Love,” Emory University

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The final projects that culminated from “The Power of Black Self-Love” can be viewed on the course’s website

While “The Power of Black Self-Love” was only on Emory’s Fall 2016 roster, the unique (and necessary) nature of the course make it worth a mention. The course covered everything from Black Twitter to Black Girl Magic, with the goal of helping students understand the significance of self-love and pride in an oppressive environment. 

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