White students' lack of interest in the Afro-American Studies Department underlies the University's refusal to give that program an adequate budget or enough tenured professors, Selwyn R. Cudjoe, assistant professor of Afro-American Studies, said last night.
Cudjoe, speaking to about 20 students at a meeting sponsored by the Student Assembly, made a plea for more white students to enroll in Afro-American courses.
"The same kind of unconscious, unreasoned racism that prevents other departments from finding 'well-qualified' black professors pervades the psyche of Euro-Americans so deeply, that most white students do not ever even consider taking an Afro-Am course," Cudjoe said.
"I'm not going to jump at the administration's throat, because I'm not convinced the University is a villain," he added. "The University's deprecation of the department is supported by the views of the students who refuse to take our courses--if more white students took our courses, the University would find it necessary to support us," Cudjoe said.
In 1972, more than 1000 students took Afro-American courses, and 80 per cent of them were white, Cudjoe said. Only 314 students are now taking Afro-American courses and there is only one white concentrator in the department, he added.
"It is very easy to march for South Africa's liberation, but much more difficult to carry a concern for racism into your own life, your own education," Cudjoe said.
"White students have a responsibility to take our courses," he added. Afro-American studies are "more relevant than English or History, if you believe education is about liberation and learning about yourself," Cudjoe added.
"We do not see our discipline as being antagonistic to the other disciplines in this University, but we see our perspective as being corrective to the distortions of the established disciplines, which are in formed by a Euro-American perception of the world that must bear responsibility for the terrible crimes which have been committed against mankind from slavery to Hiroshima, from Nazi Germany to Vietnam," Cudjoe said.