Understanding history of people from African Diaspora through literature


Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow, gives a book talk at the University of Virginia. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Do you like to reading in your spare time? No, I’m not talking about those monotonous textbooks that your professor assigns to you. I’m talking about something that is educational but also compelling. If the answer is yes, then AME’s new book club may be for you.

They meet every second Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. each month, except February, which during that month they will meet on the 15th from 3 to 4 p.m. in room H.2650.

AME book club is titled “Pan-African Narratives”, and according to their mission statement, it’s meant to “provide an intimate experience from some of the most important writers, scholars, and narrators, from people of pan- African descent expanding upon the reliance brilliance liberatory ideal’s of African experience”.

You may be unfamiliar with what Pan-African is, but if you do a little research, you will find Wikipedia’s definition which is “a worldwide intellectual movement that aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all people of solidarity between all people of African descent.”

Christian Lacy, an English major on campus, sat down with me to discuss what inspired her to create Pan- African Narratives. Lacy explained that at a previous college she read “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander.

Lacy details how this book inspired her to think more deeply about the ways people of different races are treated. She felt that the issues being discussed in this book will “bring in cultural competency issues, bringing everyone together and being inclusive”.

The importance of this book is to shed light on how racism still affects our society today. In this book, Alexander wrote about the disparity between the amount of black men being incarcerated versus white men, and how black men were/are criminalized with harsher sentences than white men, especially with drug related crimes. Even still, research proves that black men are not more likely to use drugs than white men.

When Lacy came here she brought the idea of a book club to the director of AME. When asked about the goal of Pan-African Narratives she responds from the perspective of Dr. Marcellus Davis.

“I think for him it’s about being culturally competent,” Davis said. “It’s one thing to say I know this black person, I know this Latina person but to actually know who the personhood of the person versus just saying I have a black friend… like what does that mean? No, I just need to learn how to celebrate my friend, it doesn’t matter what race they are.”

Another person who was interviewed about Pan-African Narratives book club was the program director Dr. Marcellus Davis. Davis discussed why it’s beneficial to read books as a group stating “To read the book on your own is one thing but to read it in the community and to talk about some of the ideals that are exposed in the book give a greater depth of understanding “.

An important theme that Pan-African Narratives will be reading and discussing is the oppression of people of African descent. We know these issues aren’t new. Pan-African Narratives is hoping to figure out how books that scholars have written in the past help us to understand what’s happening in the present.

Pan-African Narratives’ agenda, according to Dr. Marcellus, will be:

  • The second book, will start February 15, which is titled “Black Indians”.
  • March 8th, they will began reading a book Dr. Joy DeGruy titled “Post- Traumatic Slave Syndrome”. Davis describes the theme of this book as “reciprocal effects of slavery from generation to your generation ,to my generation, to our elders generation and how things from slavery have passed on from generation to generation to black people that are living today”.
  • April, the fourth book ,”The new Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”by Michelle Alexander. (the facilitator will determine how many chapters need to read).

Although the club is catered to the students of African descent, any MCTC student is welcome to join the Pan-African Narratives club as long as you are interested in hearing about Black people’s achievements and oppression.

For more information, you can visit the AME room, located at H. 2650.