Deeper Roots

New African American Studies course offered at Oak


Chasey Almirol

Senior Laila Henry works on a project about Sojourner Truth during the Slave Rebellion. The new African American Studies class in one way students can explore history of a select group of people.

With the onslaught of news from the pandemic in late February and throughout March, Black History Month celebrations continued without wavering. To add to the appreciation of the culture, an African American Studies class is now being offered to students at Klein Oak.

“As an African American, I like to know and learn about my culture because there is so much depth and untold truth about the history of African culture,” junior Jacolby Mattox said.

African American Studies dives into ancient African civilization, history, culture, and important African Americans who have contributed to society through inventions, art, and scientific achievements. In the coming months students will be learning the multicultural landscape of the world in this generation.

“I am most excited about multicultural aspects of class as well as helping students uncover the strength and rich history of their heritage,” African American Studies teacher Elizabeth Hargis Blake said.

Not only are African American students taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more about their culture, but students of other races and ethnicities are as well.

“I feel like there’s a lot of anti-blackness within different communities,” senior Noor Iqbal said. “I’m Pakistani and I know that a lot of Pakistanis are super racist. I think if they learn more about the fact that there is an actual African American culture, they’ll be able to understand better and not push that prejudice.”

However, something that makes this course a little different is that the teacher is not actually African American herself. This creates certain views for students.

“It doesn’t effect anything at all,” senior Azia Good said. “She is a really cool teacher and you can tell that she enjoys teaching the class and subject.”

Every person has their own way of seeing how teachers effect the way a subject is taught and each aspect plays towards the bigger picture.

“While I believe it is important to understand African American culture, I also believe the study of African American culture should involve African American voices,” Iqbal said. “A white teacher cannot speak on this culture no matter the level of higher education they go through. When so many black voices are willing to contribute to the conversation, there is no point in not allowing them to speak.”

African American Studies is a class that takes a step in the direction of appreciating culture that individuals may not know about.

“I am teaching a history that is clearly not my own, but I do that every day in World History as well when I teach about other cultures in history,” Hargis-Blake said. “I have an open approach to questions from students in hopes that I can make their ideas and concerns are respected and addressed. I truly respect this class, the content, and my students. I hope I am able to meet their needs and expectations even though I come from a different place than they might.”

Students of all cultures are encouraged to sign up for this elective history course and can do so by contacting their counselor.