Talkin’ Shit: The History of African-American Culture

Become an authority on African American history—and win debates—by learning information that Harvard, Yale and other universities are afraid to teach.

2 Credits

If you are not a member of Renegade University you will need to join RU to enroll in this webinar course. 

 – Level 1 members get 1 credit with their membership and will need to purchase an additional credit to enroll in this 2-credit course.
 – Level 2 memberships come with 6 credits and
 – Level 3 memberships include 10 credits.

Talkin’ Shit: The History of African-American Culture

Instructors: Kamasi Hill and Thaddeus Russell
Tuesdays
November 3, 10, 17, 24
8:30 PM Eastern / 5:30 PM Pacific
Each session will run between 2 and 2.5 hours

Each session will be recorded and immediately available for streaming for participants who are unable to attend a session

Become an authority on African American history—and win debates—by learning information that Harvard, Yale and other universities are afraid to teach.

This course examines the origins and ascendancy of the most loved, hated, and powerful popular culture in American history.

Over the last two centuries the cultural forms created by American slaves and their descendants have been welcomed and often worshipped in nearly every country in the world. Outside the United States the most famous and popular Americans have always been black. No president or general has commanded more international attention and admiration than black minstrel and vaudeville performers of the 19th century. No American politician has been more influential or beloved globally than Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, or Beyoncé. Authoritarian regimes in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the Middle East outlawed African-American culture because its libidinal and liberating nature was often more popular among their populations than the repression required by fascism, communism, and sharia law.

In the United States, black culture has been simultaneously derided by elites—including black elites—who often see it as a threat to foundational, puritanical American norms, and envied and emulated by masses of ordinary Americans of all colors. The music and comedy of slaves became the most popular form of entertainment in the world. Black fashion became American fashion. Black dialect became American slang. In lower-class saloons in early America, in the jazz clubs of the 20th century, and at the hip-hop concert arenas of the 21st century, black popular culture has integrated more people through voluntary desire than the coercive measures of affirmative action or school bussing ever could.

This is a course other universities wouldn’t dare to offer: a politically incorrect, renegade history of black America. 

Course Schedule

Session 1: Tuesday, November 3, 8:30 PM Eastern
The World the Slaves Made

  1. West African origins of American slave culture
  2. Slaves’ attitudes toward work, sex, relationships, and their enslavement
  3. Origins of black Christianity
  4. Paternalism and everyday resistance
  5. The popularity of slave culture and blackface minstrels

Session 2: Tuesday, November 10, 8:30 PM Eastern
Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Armed Resistance, Mutual Aid

  1. The anti-blackness assimilationism of Reconstruction
  2. Armed resistance: from anti-Klan self-defense to the Tulsa race war of 1921
  3. Black mutual aid societies
  4. The W.E.B. DuBois-Booker T. Washington debate
  5. “Respectability” politic

Session 3: Tuesday, November 17, 8:30 PM Eastern
The Great Migration and the Making of Urban America

  1. Black culture as popular culture: from “jungle” jazz to the mainstream
  2. Black dialect becomes American English
  3. Jews and Italians: the “other Negroes”
  4. Harlem Renaissance: artists, intellectuals, and gangsters
  5. Marcus Garvey, black nationalism, and pan-Africanis

Session 4: Tuesday, November 24, 8:30 PM Eastern
Racial Liberalism and “Blackness”

  1. Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma: antiracism and anti-blackness
  2. King and the Civil Rights Movement: desegregation, integration, assimilation
  3. Armed resistance under Jim Crow: Deacons for Defense, the C.O. Chinn militia, violent resistance to police and the Klan
  4. Black Power and black nationalism: Malcolm X, Nation of Islam, the Black Panther Party
  5. The global ascendancy of black popular culture
  6. The black origins of Rock-and-Roll
  7. Hip-hop: party music, “conscious” music, gangsta music, anarchist music
  8. African-Americans and the rise of the carceral state
  9. The meaning of Barack Obama
  10. Black Lives Matter, Ta-Nehisi Coates and “afro-pessimism
Kamasi Hill
Kamasi C. Hill is a historian, theologian, educator, art curator, and filmmaker. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, he attended Detroit public schools, graduated from Howard University, and received his PhD in religion from Northwestern University, where he specialized in the history of African-American religion and culture. He lives in Chicago and teaches U.S. and African-American history at Evanston Township High School. He has curated more than 300 pieces of original African and African American art, and work from his collection has been exhibited at the Museum of Science and Industry, DuSable Museum, and the University of Chicago. Kamasi also wrote, produced, and directed the documentary film Born in the Struggle, on the lives of children of black radical activists from the 1960s and 1970s.
Thaddeus Russell
Thaddeus Russell is the founder of Renegade University and the author of A Renegade History of the United States. His peer-reviewed American Quarterly article “The Color of Discipline: Civil Rights and Black Sexuality,” is the most downloaded article in the history of the journal. He has taught courses on African-American history at the undergraduate and graduate level at Columbia University, the New School for Social Research, and Occidental College. His course, “Race: The History of an Idea,” is one of the bestselling Video Courses at Renegade University. Thad holds a PhD in history from Columbia University.

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