We hear so much about identity and culture. What is it? How is it defined? There are so many facets in defining Canadian culture and identity.
Dr. Moustapha Fall, of UVic’s Department of French, will be teaching a new course, Understanding “Black Identity” in the Context of Canadian Mainstream Culture in January 2021.
In an interview with Dr. Audrey Yap, faculty advisor for the Intercultural Studies and Practice program, Dr. Fall explains why he chose this topic:
“Part of it was during my PhD—I have been really interested in culture, and different ways we can bridge gaps and ensure that people talk to each other. It has always been the way I look at things.
To tell you the truth, what happened in Chicago with the case of the killing of the African American male [George Floyd], and the things that have been happening with colleagues and friends in the past years, boil down to one thing—perhaps we do not understand Black people enough. This is something I have thought about for quite some time.
I am working on a book with a friend of mine on this idea of what it means to be Black. That is a very complex topic because when you say Black, who is part of the Black community? Are you talking about Black Africans, are you talking about Black people from Canada, are you talking about African Americans? It is so amazingly vague and is a huge topic. So perhaps for this course, I thought I would have to limit myself to the context of Canada.”
Dr. Yap believes that this will be an amazing experience for learners, and Dr. Fall describes his excitement for the course:
“Black people have to own their narratives and speak for themselves. As a professor, I think it is important to expose to students the different narratives from different places.
I will introduce a lot of new readings and articles, and invite guest speakers, as well, to be part of that. This will include African American professors from the University of Chicago, professors from Canadian universities and other African universities, as well as local community members.
A friend of mine used to tell me that what is difficult about traveling is leaving the comfort zone of your home—but once you are outside your house, that is it! The same thing could be said when we engage in conversations [for] the first time with people we do not know, but once the line of communication is established, that is it!”
There is so much uncertainty in the world; let’s commit to opening dialogue and gaining new perspectives to increase our tolerance for discomfort, and our capacity for growth and understanding.
Understanding “Black Identity” in the Context of Canadian Mainstream Culture runs Jan. 6 to April 7, 2021 (CRN: 21864). Register early to avoid disappointment!