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ELLE.com Scholars Produce “A Seat at the Table Syllabus”

February 9, 2017

The Anna Julia Cooper Center ELLE.com Scholars, in collaboration with Candice Benbow and Wake Forest University faculty Melissa Harris-Perry and Sherri Williams, curated a syllabus focused around the themes of Solange’s album ‘A Seat the Table.’

In the introduction, the Scholars write:

James Baldwin argued “to be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” As our nation transitioned from the Obama years to Trump’s America, Solange’s album,A Seat at the Table, gave voice to the struggle to maintain black humanity and sanity in the context of this constant rage. Solange found this voice by entering into conversations with everyone from her parents, to the rapper-polymath Master P, to the actress Amandla Stenberg. She allowed their stories to merge with her own, and gave us a chance to listen in on the co-creation that became her astonishing album.

In October, the Elle.com Scholars, accompanied Melissa Harris-Perry to Stanford University for an event featuring Solange and MHP in a wide-ranging conversation. It got us thinking, and on the trip back to Wake Forest University, senior Ann Nguyen suggested we develop a Seat at the Table syllabus inspired by the crowd sourced Lemonade Syllabus curated by writer and educator Candice Benbow. We called Candice who talked with us about her process, helped us create a structure for this syllabus, and supported us every step of the way.

We issued a call for submissions to young women ages 16 to 30. Many people resisted the idea of an age limit, but it was important to us to put young women at the center of the conversation. Like Solange, we asked young women to think deeply about resisting racism, understanding gender and sexuality, the role of important relationships in their lives, and how they nurture themselves. We even encouraged girls to think about taking a seat at the lunch table by remembering the books, music, and art that made them feel included as middle and elementary school children.

Like all conversations, these sometimes went to unexpected places. Some of the submissions were books and articles we expected; but some submissions were original artwork, poetry, and stories. We are excited to share this syllabus with you and to continue the conversation.

View the syllabus here.

Read the ELLE.com article about the syllabus here.