Bruin Alumni Association
UCLA in Black and White:
Radicalism in the African-American Studies Department


Chapter 1 - Joining the Multi-Cult

Chapter 2 - More of the Same (Radicalism)

Chapter 3 - This Is Academics?

Chapter 4 - A Shallow Academic Pool

Chapter 5 - The Dynamic Duo

















UCLA in Black and White
Radicalism in the African-American Studies Department

By Andrew Jones

Chapter 1
Joining the Multi-Cult

    The identity politics which infest UCLA today are both a product, and a cause, of radical undergraduate academics.  The politically-correct focus on women, minorities and gays serves as a lens through which all topics, from Shakespeare to the Civil War, the 1760’s to the 1960’s, are viewed. 

    By contrast with the ongoing radicalization of departments like English or Political Science, UCLA’s recently created multi-cultural departments were never subsumed by the Left.  They couldn’t have been, because they were created by the left, to serve the goals of the left. 

    We’re in a brave new (UCLA) world now.  For the student who wants to avoid the relative intellectual rigor of the other humanities and social-science disciplines, UCLA now boasts a long-list of victimoligist specialties.  African-American Studies?  Check.  American Indian Studies?  Check. Asian-American Studies, Chicano Studies, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Studies, and Women’s Studies?  Check, check, check, and…check. 

    Getting a sense of the multi-cultis’ pseudo-scholarship requires a close look at the class topics and assigned readings.  This case study examines one typical department, African-American Studies, for one academic year, 2004-2005.  Understanding that each department has its quirks, the troubling situation we find in African-American Studies offers strong backing to the anecdotal evidence available about the other five disciplines not examined here.

    The following are brief profiles of problem classes characterizing the professionalized radicalism of the department.  Despite confining the investigative focus to radical topics and readings, the study still endless problematic content in the department's offerings.

    African-American Studies M107, titled “Cultural History of Rap,” uses Professor Cheryl Keyes’ own book Rap Music and Street Consciousness along with That’s the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader.  Part of the rigorous intellectual demands of the course include couch time with BET and MTV.  The syllabus states, “Students are strongly encouraged to view hip-hop related television programs, if possible, on a weekly basis.”[1]

    In that same vein, the department also offers Professor Scot Brown’s “Recent African American Urban History: Funk Music and Black Popular Culture,” which is cross-listed with the History department.[2]  This class, like 56% of the year’s African-American Studies courses, is co-offered by one or more other departments.[3]

    It is this cross-listing that is perhaps the biggest problem with identity politics studies.  Through this interdisciplinary charade, the multi-culti infection of identity group compartmentalization spreads to mainstream majors like English, History and Political Science.  Such cross-listing results in a History major learning about the Civil War from the perspective of an African American, an Asian-American, a Chicano, and a lesbian, for good measure.  But with their eyes focused firmly on the politically correct microscope, students miss the broader picture of our common American experience.

    Meanwhile, courses which do not examine their subject through a racial lens are “re-educated,” and otherwise made to conform.  Non-compliant courses, and any professors who will not bow to the system, simply disappear.

    In Scot Brown’s “Recent African American Urban History: Funk Music and Black Popular Culture” course, the professor argues that “James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelic, Betty Davis, [and] Earth, Wind and Fire,” compose “multiple voices of anguish, protest and vision.”  The final exam assigns a 3-5 page paper analyzing one of a limited choice of “songs as they relate to the course themes of realism and surrealism in funk music.”  These choices include the deep thoughts of Chic’s “Everybody Dance,” which declares in part:

Everybody dance, do-do-do
Clap your hands, clap your hands
Everybody dance, do-do-do
Clap your hands, clap you hands
Everybody dance, do-do-do
Clap your hands, clap your hands
Everybody dance, do-do-do
Clap your hands, clap your hands [4]

    Lots of people feel that funk is great music.  Many people feel the same about polka.  But neither deserves to the subject of academic study, much less a university’s final exam. 

    “Interracial Dynamics in American Society & Culture” is listed both as General Education Cluster 20, and African-American Studies M167.  While deeper than classes that give credit for a straight-faced examination of Black Entertainment Television rump-shaking or ‘70s slap-bass virtuosity, “Interracial Dynamics” only digs a deeper grave of academic fraud.  The course presents the usual theories and the usual suspects of the academic left.  “White privilege,” “institutional racism,” and racial deconstruction – but only against whites – are par for the course here.[5]

    Familiar from my own experience with  a similar class, Chicano Studies 182, “Whiteness Studies,” is one assigned reading, George Lipsitz’s “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness.”  Given the book’s subtitle, “How White People Profit from Identity Politics,” it’s clear that Lipsitz wasn’t writing about UCLA, where white people are in fact the only group not benefiting from identity politics.

    As the final class activity of the “Interracial Dynamics” class, those students enrolled in the class through the African-American Studies department hold a debate on California’s Proposition 187 – but only after being properly “educated” by two articles: Rene Sanchez’s “Divisive Prop. 187 Is Voided,” and Tamar Jacoby’s “Anti-Immigration Fever In Arizona.”[6]  As with most academics at UCLA, students aren’t expected to reach their own conclusions on controversial topics.  Professors prefer to do it for them – and then confirm their indoctrination as creatively as possible.  For “Interracial Dynamics,” that method is a sham debate that the pro-187 side could not possibly win without independent study above and beyond the course readings.

    In the next quarter of the “Interracial Dynamics” General Cluster class, the “Civil Rights and Black Power Movements” module consists of selections from Stokely Carmichael, Charles V. Hamilton, Huey P. Newton, and Bobby Seale.[7]  The views of independent historians, for or against that ugly period of America history, are noticeably absent.  

    Writers contrarian to the hagiography of what was in reality a Marxist street gang, like David Horowitz, Peter Collier, or Kate Coleman, are not presented for the students’ benefit.  Contrarian voices, as a close reading of the class syallabi make clear, are only welcome coming from the left.  Thus are students assigned to read Edward Said’s “Islam As News,” and in further reading on immigration issues, are favored with Augusta Dwyer’s “Let’s Shoot Some Aliens: The US Border Patrol.”[8]

    Wrapping up the winter quarter for GE Cluster students is a debate on “Income-based vs. Race-based Affirmative Action in Higher Education Admissions.”  There’s no mention of the possibility of no affirmative action at all; and, given the assigned readings of “Regents of the University of California v. Allan Bakke (Justice Marshall’s Dissent)” and Nell Irvin Painter’s “Whites Say I Must Be on Easy Street,”[9] the reason is clear: you can’t debate an idea you haven’t learned.

    Making the outrageous content of the “Interracial Dynamics” class detailed here is that it is derived only from a brief review of the two course syllabi.  Were there enough time and resources for a close review of every single author, work, and film in this class (or others), the result would be the enumeration of far more examples of radical works disguised by bland titles. 

    A prime example illustrating this problem is the course screening of “I’m the One That I Want.”  The title itself is rather innocuous, not wearing its politics on its sleeve.  However, the film is noted anti-war leftist Margaret Cho’s foul-mouthed exposition on her life as a self-proclaimed Korean “fag hag.”  In the recording, which is simply a tape of her stand-up performance at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater, Cho notes that “straight men are scary,” and discusses, among other scholastically relevant topics, vagina-washing and oral sex.[10]  This one example is bad enough, but it represents only the tip of the radical iceberg.


[1] http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/04F/afroamm107-1/syllabus.htm

[2] http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/04F/histm150d-1/

[3] http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/classweb/classlist.php?dept=AFRO-AM&term=04F; http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/classweb/classlist.php?dept=AFRO-AM&term=05W; http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/classweb/classlist.php?dept=AFRO-AM&term=05S

[4] http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/04F/histm150d-1/

[5] http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/classes/ird/05F_LectureSyllabus.pdf

[6] Ibid.

[7] http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/classes/ird/lecturesyllabus.htm

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] http://www.barnard.edu/sfonline/ps/lee4.htm