Dr. Donnetrice Allison, coordinator of Stockton University's Africana Studies program. Photo courtesy of Stockton University.

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

GALLOWAYDr. Donnetrice Allison, coordinator of Stockton University’s Africana Studies program, said she is looking forward to engaging students around race after the Board of Trustees approval last week of a historic program requiring all incoming students to take two courses that address race and racism.

While some state legislatures have pushed back on such classes and curriculums under a movement started by former President Donald Trump, Allison called the trustees’ vote “pretty major.”

Dr. Donnectrice Allison addresses crowd during a celebration of Africana Studies becoming a major at Stockton University. Photo by Mer-Made Photography.

She pointed to the death of George Floyd last year while in custody of Minneapolis police, which led to a worldwide racial justice protest, as one of the main catalysts for the requirement. Allison is also serving as director of strategic initiatives, and professor of Africana Studies and Communication Studies.

“Obviously, with everything that unfolded last summer, I was asked to take a position as director of strategic initiatives,” Allison told Front Runner New Jersey. “This kind of became my primary focus, getting this new requirement in the curriculum.

Dr. Donnetrice Allison, coordinator of Stockton University’s Africana Studies program. Photo courtesy of Dr. Donnetrice Allison.

“I suspect we have some conservative journalists and radio personalities who, kind of whenever we do something at Stockton, they say we’re being too liberal. So some folks will have a problem with this requirement and some may decide they don’t want their child to go to Stockton. But by far, there was very little resistance for this and we have some of our best support from the students,” Allison said.

Allison said members of the Stockton Student Senate endorse the class requirements unanimously.

The requirement will take effect for the incoming class in fall 2021. Allison said the Race/Racism Education Across the Curriculum requirement will ensure that all students, no matter what their major, will receive education in the history and impact of race and racism in America. 

She said students may take specific race-related courses, and faculty will also be encouraged to incorporate race and racism into the courses they are teaching so that the topic will cover all program areas.

“In July we made a commitment, and I am proud to see that commitment become an action that will benefit our students,” Stockton board chairman Raymond Ciccone said in a statement.

Allison said the classes are meant to give students a complete perspective of people of color and other marginalized people who deal with the challenges of race and racism and how it affects everyone in society.

“Race and racism is something we have not properly dealt with in this country and in this world,” Allison said. “Until we do, we’re going to keep ending up back here and these kinds of things are going to keep happening between police and the black community. Even with these ongoing attacks against Asian Americans, you can see how we haven’t dealt with race in a meaningful way in so many arenas.”

Some state legislatures have fought against such initiatives. Lawmakers in states like Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, South Dakota and Arizona have called critical race theory and other race/racism curriculums in public education “racially divisive,” without acknowledging the flaws in the status quo.

Allison said Stockton students will be better prepared to deal with the world beyond their classroom and communities because of this education.

“This is our one kind of contribution to dealing with this issue. Stockton students are going to be ahead of the mark because they’re going to have this education, that all students need to have everywhere.

“Our students will have it because it’s important for them to understand that race and racism is so ingrained in the very fabric of this country. It’s as American as apple pie. Our students want to have that understanding and knowledge in order for us to overcome it,” she said.

To learn more about Elevate Stockton, it’s social justice and equity project, CLICK HERE.

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