By NOUHAD ALAME, Staff Writer
“Those who are not afraid to go against the grain are those who have and will cultivate change, while those who go with the grain remain the same,” comments Kimora Porter, an African American student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Kimora, along with students Jerel Jones and Teresa Sommerville, are excited that African American Studies is now offered as a major and minor at UM-Dearborn. The area of study focuses on the history and cultural legacies of Africans and African Americans, including issues confronting African and African American communities throughout the world.
Theresa Sommerville, Black Student Union (BSU) secretary and senior at UM-Dearborn, is a psychology major striving to become a child psychologist. Sommerville claims that the new major was “a turn for the better, but it didn’t necessarily start last year.” BSU has tried to help the “Triple A” major and “if the students want change the students have to get it,” Sommerville said.
“This has been an ongoing obstacle for about ten years as Dr. Gloria House has tried to get the major approved in the past,” says Sommerville.
Dr. Gloria House, who is both an advisor for BSU and Professor of English at UM-Dearborn, has worked tirelessly to gain approval for this AAAS major; her followers, students, and supporters applaud her efforts.
With these strong ambitions in mind, the Black Student Union, along with other faithful faculty members and students, would not put their goals aside regardless of the obstacles they met with the approval process. According to CASL’s course offerings, the AAAS minor currently offers over 20 courses and over 200 students who declare AAAS as their minor will have a chance to now declare it as a major.
“The addition of a new major at the UM-Dearborn is a huge leap-a huge step,” Sommerville said.
Moreover, UM-Dearborn now embraces a curricular addition to the cultural legacies of African Americans along with the study of crucial issues confronting African Americans in the 21st century.
According to UM-Dearborn’s newly appointed Dean Martin Hershock, “about 25 percent of UM-Dearborn’s enrollment is comprised of students of color. Combine that with the region’s diverse makeup, it is vitally important that programs like this exist,” he says.
“Teaching American History without incorporating African history components is like teaching Arithmetic without incorporating multiplication modules,” Porter said.
Porter is also another senior student at the UM-Dearborn who majors in the behavioral sciences. Although her dreams to be a doctor were unfulfilled, she plans on steering her career away from physical health and now towards mental health instead.
However, even as a behavioral sciences major, Porter still feels strong about this AAAS major. “If the general public was able to conceptualized the Atlantic-slave trade and its correlation with economics in America, citizens of America would have a better understanding of how our economic system has been designed and will continue to be cultivated,’’ Porter says.
With this new opportunity to major in AAAS at UM-Dearborn, the university is now better able to emphasize the importance of “diversity inclusion” in the UM system. Perspective students and many current students now have the chance to learn what they have wanted to learn, with limits within the minor of African American Studies finally being expanded to a major.