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K-State Today

September 23, 2014

American ethnic studies celebrates new beginnings

Submitted by Shireen Roshanravan

Hip-Hop at K-State: Rize and Decolonize! panel discussion featuring Psalm One, Rocky Rivera, Cihuatl Ce and Shining Soul

More than 70 people gathered at the historic Douglass Community Center Friday, Sept. 19, to celebrate new beginnings for the American ethnic studies department. The crowd included community leaders and longtime residents of Manhattan's Mexican-American and Black neighborhood as well as administrators, faculty, staff and students from a wide cross section of Kansas State University.

Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez, university distinguished professor and director of the American ethnic studies department, emphasized the significance of the event's location at the Douglass Community Center as speaking to the department's commitment to bridge the university/community divide. As part of this commitment, Broyles-Gonzalez also announced the oral history project she is overseeing with longtime African-American and Mexican-American residents of Manhattan.

The event announced new departmental faculty additions and the recent recipient of the Joey Lee Garmon Undergraduate Multicultural Scholarship, Shaun Dowdell, who is an American ethnic studies student and president of American Ethnic Studies Student Association.

In addition, the event also showcased the department's growing curricular offerings. The fall semester courses include AMETH 451, African American Music: Sacred and the Secular; AMETH 560, Popular Culture in Mexican-America; and AMETH 453, The Current Border Crisis and Immigration. The spring semester courses include AMETH 560, Politics of Women of Color; AMETH 453, Transborder Children's Literature; AMETH 454, Racist Love: Asian Americans and the Model-Minority Myth; and AMETH 560, Hip-Hop as Resistance.

Visiting hip-hop artists Cihuatl-Ce, Shining Soul and Psalm One also attended Friday evening's event as part of the department's two-day diversity programming event, "Hip-Hop at K-State: Rize and Decolonize," on Saturday, Sept. 20, at K-State Union Ballroom. Before performing, the visiting artists addressed accusations of their music as "profane," their play with words to decolonize the English language, the dangerous claim that we live in a colorblind society, and how hip-hop gives voice to their struggles, experiences and grassroots efforts to end all forms of violence.

Kimathi Choma, assistant dean for diversity, attended both Friday and Saturday events and represented the College of Arts & Sciences Diversity Committee, which co-sponsored the event. Choma expressed the committee's pride in sponsoring the event as building on the committee's legacy of supporting events that spark conversation and deepen understandings about diversity across the campus community.

Learn more about the American ethnic studies department and the American Ethnic Studies Student Association.