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eSankofa: Conversations About the Black Experience is a Course

eSankofa: Conversations About the Black Experience

Ended Sep 22, 2015

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Full course description

Starts August 17, 2015

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t see color”, or “I’m colorblind” when it comes to race, or that we are living in a “post-racial” era?  Current events, such as #TravyonMartin #FreddieGray, #SandraBland, #renishamcbride, and movements such as #blacklivesmatter only have served to dismiss these erroneous notions and fictional narratives as a society and have begun to highlight the essential conversations needing to take place all around the world in regards to race. Although Black Studies as a discipline was born out of the radically systemic racial issues of the past century, these issues still blatantly exist in the present day in different forms. MSU professor Donna Rich Kaplowitz recently shared a quote through an opinion letter and on an NPR interview by stating that “we are complicit in perpetuating racism if we are not actively working against it.”

eSankofa is a “massive open online community conversation” that invites African American history and heritage to engage with new digital disciplinary studies. This course is designed to increase multicultural viewpoints, foster community collectives of discussion, help you navigate difficult race questions, as well as challenge your thoughts and perceptions about the Black experience. The experience of Sankofa is to give rise to a “call of action” within yourself as a learner to be inclusive of the entire human race.

“History is a light that illuminates the past, and a key that unlocks the door to the future.”
— Runoko Rashidi

In the following five weeks, we will take short surveys to gather anonymous feedback on your understanding of Black Studies and your views of race. Participation will involve sharing personal accounts and interviews from family, friends, co-workers, mentors, or even silent heros through audio/digital stories, engaging in Google Hangout On-Air live events with community members and experts on issues and concerns within the Black experience, and interacting in active discussion forums.  More importantly, this is a space to share your learning through the experience of storytelling. 

  • Theme 1: Race, Racism, and Black Identity
  • Theme 2: The Living Consequences of Chattel Slavery
  • Theme 3: Standing at the Intersection of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Black Community
  • Theme 4: Black Aesthetics, Art & Culture
  • Theme 5: A Worldwide Perspective of the Local, National, and Global African Diaspora

The Michigan State University African American and African Studies (AAAS) is a cross-college, university-wide, academic unit hosted by the College of Arts and Letters at MSU. Our curriculum fosters advanced exploration and analysis of the social, cultural, economic, and political experiences of African descendants in the United States, in the Caribbean, and elsewhere in the African Diaspora; as as well as of the diverse peoples and nations of Africa in the Continent. We are dedicated to the production and creation of knowledge and the cultivation of scholars committed to academic excellence and social responsibility in local, national, and global community.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the course arranged?

Each theme consists of audio narrated prezi presentation learning paths which average about 15 minutes in length. Complete transcripts of each theme are provided. There are several different learning paths for the learner to choose to gain a deeper understanding of each theme. There are additional links to videos, articles, and books that provide additional knowledge. Optional self check quizzes for understanding of knowledge will appear but are not required. Each week we’ll open a discussion forum where you can ask questions and interact with other learners as well as the facilitators.  

This experience is not to test your knowledge but to allow you to share, contribute, and personally reflect on your view of race as well as your experience when dealing with complex issues.

How much time will the course require?

The total time for viewing the unit content is about 45 minutes a week.

What Internet connections do I need?

The course can be viewed on a computer, tablet, and on some smart phones. The interactive learning object videos are hosted on Prezi, so you need to be able to download the prezi viewer to view from your mobile device.

Can I get a Certificate of Completion?

Yes! You will get a digital badge for completion of the five modules. You have to participate in each theme; after that a digital badge will become available for download. Although self quizzes are offered for each module, they are optional. The activities are required.

Are the instructors involved in the course?

Yes the instructors and facilitators are very active!

Can I take this course with other people?

We would love for every learner to have a log-in and share their experiences online as well as in your home. community and globally through your connected learning networks.

So how do we as learners help shape humanity through open discourse and action? Register today!


Dr. Edozie

Dr. Rita Kiki Edozie

Lead Instructor and Facilitator for eSankofa

Rita Kiki Edozie is Professor of International Relations at Michigan State University’s (MSU) James Madison College of Public Affairs and Director of MSU’s cross-college, multi-disciplinary, African American and African Studies program, housed in the university’s College of Arts and Letters. Professor Edozie is a Lilly Teaching Fellow 2007-8 and CIC-Academic Leadership Fellow, 2011-12. Dr. Edozie earned a PhD in Political Science from the New School for Social Research, New York City (1999), and has published five books; and several journal articles and book chapters on research topics that include the comparative politics and international relations of Africa, global development, democratization, and Pan-Africana Diaspora Studies’ political thought. Recent books are The African Union’s Africa: New Pan African Initiatives in Global Governance (2014) and Malcolm X’s Michigan Worldview An Exemplar for Contemporary Black Studies (2015).

Tiffany Caesar

Tiffany Caesar

MA in Pan-African Studies with specialization in Pan-African Studies

Tiffany Caesar is a 3rd year PhD student in African American and African Studies with a concentration in African Centered Education at Michigan State University. She has a Master’s Degree in Pan-African Studies from the University of Louisville. Her research interests include African Centered Education and Pan-Africanist Thought in the US and in the African continent. The scope of her research is focused on the African Diaspora where she examines intersections and interactions among African Americans and Africans usage of cultural artifacts to restore histories and lived experiences in educational curricular and institutions. In the future, she hopes to teach courses in African American Studies, African Studies, Pan-African Thought, African Centered Education, and Urban Studies.

Ramon Jenkins

Ramon Jenkins

M.A in African American And African Studies with a specialization in Sociology and Women's & Gender Studies

Ramon Jenkins is an Africana/Gender Studies scholar who hails from the south side of Chicago, Illinois. He recently graduated from Michigan State University with a master’s degree in African American & African Studies with specializations in Sociology and Women's & Gender Studies. His research interests focuses on the social construction of black queer identity in the media, particularly how queer men of color are stereotyped as effeminate acting, and the black community’s response towards such men of color. He has presented some of his work at both national and international conferences, and is published in the Journal of African American Studies and the Journal of Research in Peace, Gender, and Development. In 2006 he received his bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

El Rah Radney

El Ra Radney

Adjunct Professor – Wayne State University, Dept of African American Studies

El-Ra Adair Radney is a native Detroiter, and fourth year doctoral student in African American and African Studies at Michigan State University, with a concentration in Black political thought/Black Philosophy and Cultural Studies. He is currently adjunct faculty at Wayne State University’s – Department of African American Studies – where he teaches courses on Caribbean Culture & Politics, and Black Social and Political Thought. His instructional profile includes teaching as a former instructor with the MSU-WRAC (Writing Rhetoric and American Culture) Department, where he taught an undergraduate writing class with a Race & Identity theme (Race & The American Ethnic Experience, and Writing and the Evolution of American Culture).

Michael K. Wilson

Michael K. Wilson

M.A in African Studies with a specialization in Art History

Michael K. Wilson is currently a doctoral student in Michigan State University's African American and African Studies program, specializing in Contemporary Art History. Michael is also receiving a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies and is the recipient of the 2014 Nelson Mandela Museum Fellowship. His research interests interrogate the relationship between diaspora, space and agency development within contemporary art and curatorial practices.