Starting this fall, students can challenge discriminatory policies and promote a diverse community in a new anti-Black racism minor offered by the University of Maryland.
The minor will be the first of its kind across the country, according to Jeanette Snider, an assistant research professor with the university’s Anti-Black Racism Initiative. It is rare to find minors that specifically target anti-Black racism at other institutions, she said.
In the minor, students can take classes to understand discriminatory policies in different settings and then challenge these policies in a capstone. This will help students recognize and prevent anti-Black racism when it arises in their communities, Snider said.
“[The minor] positions students for really hard conversations that they’re going to engage in and to face one of the greatest challenges that exists in our society and very much globally,” Snider said.
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The minor has been in the works since 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and onset of Black Lives Matter protests, according to Rashawn Ray, a sociology professor and director of the Anti-Black Racism Initiative.
The minor, which was approved in spring 2023, will be run by the university’s African American studies department in collaboration with other colleges, such as the behavioral and social science college and public policy school. It is also part of the university’s Anti-Black Racism Initiative, which received funding from the university’s Grand Challenges Grant program to amplify the minor’s goals.
The minor will have five tracks across different schools, from public health to education, allowing students in different fields to learn about the broad effects of anti-Black racism.
This minor comes at a time where recent anti-Black hate bias reports have shaken the campus community. From February to April, anti-Black racism has been the most reported bias to the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
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There were 10 reports in April and 13 reports in March related to racial slurs or interactions against the Black community, according to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
This minor is a good start in combating recent issues of hate bias, sophomore business management major Maya Moore said.
“Some students don’t even realize that [hate crimes] are going on, let alone on campus,” Moore said. “So just to have other students take the minor will be a great way to bring the community together to fight instances of racism.”
Junior immersive media design major Grace Orellana agreed that the anti-Black racism minor is a step in the right direction, but is not sure if the minor will reach all demographics at the university.
“I feel as though it definitely has a helping hand in creating a more inclusive and diverse environment,” Orellana said. “But more steps need to be taken outside of the academic setting, by university admin, and ResLife in order to create a more inclusive environment at UMD.”