Dear First-Year Students,

On behalf of the faculty and students in the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies (IDAS), I welcome you to the Claremont Colleges community!

In addition to welcoming you to the 5Cs, I also want to ask that you consider becoming an Africana Studies major or minor. Our Africana Studies program gives you the chance to use your college years to develop a powerful intellectual, emotional, and spiritual framework that will sustain you long after you’ve graduated. It will provide you with unique tools to build the life and the world that you want to create. Our major also gives you a foundation for almost any career you might want to pursue. While centering the ideas, experiences, and cultures of Black people throughout the globe, the interdisciplinary focus of the major will prepare you for the diversity and complexity of today’s world and the future. We offer courses in history, literature, psychology, art history, dance, drama, and more. Graduates from our program are not simply cultured, intelligent, and aware, they’re also successful in a broad range of professions. Our majors have gone on to become lawyers, teachers, screenwriters, social workers, physicians, college professors, economists, union organizers, museum curators, and much else.

I’m eager to speak with you about the program. If you have any questions, or you’d like to hear more about the details of what is offered by IDAS, please join me for a Zoom-based gathering that will be held on Wednesday, September 2, at noon (Zoom ID: 598 136 0720.) Also, check out this website, which offers an overview of the program and introduces our faculty.

I look forward to meeting you soon!

Derik Smith
Chair, Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies
Associate Professor Department of Literature Claremont McKenna College

A call to Action at the Claremont Colleges

Dear students, faculty, staff, and administrators of The Claremont Colleges,

We address you filled with sadness, outrage, and exasperation in the aftermath of the recent murder of George Floyd. His brutal killing, coupled with those of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, represent only the latest and most visible examples of an anti-Black racism endemic to the American psyche, one that poisons so many of the nation’s institutions. The eruption of social action in the wake of these horrors demonstrates a widespread recognition that anti-Blackness, whether expressed individually or systemically, cannot stand.

We, the Chairs of the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies, on behalf of the department, insist that, without delay, the students, faculty, staff, and administrators of the Claremont Colleges step into the moment by pledging to root out the scourge of anti-Blackness wherever it is discovered and however it manifests itself in the culture and operations of the Colleges. We call upon the campus community to commit itself to genuine introspection and ongoing dialogue with Black groups, while also immediately taking concrete, proactive steps to safeguard the interests and promote the well-being of its Black cohorts.

The actions taken by the Claremont Colleges must amount to much more than words and promises. Decision-makers must measure and analyze the ways in which our colleges have—knowingly or not—abided by anti-Black premises in their historical and current operations, including the structuring of curricula, the shaping of student bodies, and the composing of professorates. This introspective analysis must produce quantifiable, material responses to the pattern of anti-Blackness that will inevitably be exposed.

Substantive, consequential, and measurable programs that address anti-Blackness must be devised and implemented. Unless and until that happens, we here at the Claremont Colleges cannot claim to have sincerely borne witness to the killings of Taylor, Arbery, Floyd, and countless others and to the deep psychic, physical, and spiritual damage produced by a system of anti-Blackness that continually diminishes our humanity and that demands redress.