Spring 21 Final Exam

First, a few housekeeping details:

Course announcements

  • ASSIGNMENTS UPDATE: I’ve dropped the 2nd written assignment. Instead, the points for that will go to either the 1st assignment or final exam: whichever one is your highest grade.
  • Additional discussion board post: read/comment on this post on one of the essays in chapter 11 (critical thinking) by May 24 for credit!
  • Scroll down this page for final exam logistics
  • Zoom office hours on Monday 5/17 from 6-8 PM. Drop in using the link here.

Study break/Events

  • Event: Malcolm X birthday commemoration. Livestream of the ceremony @ the gravesite from 11 AM-2 PM. Watch the stream here
  • Event: Black Power march on 125th St for Malcolm’s birthday. Rally @ 12 noon; march along 125th St. from 1-4 PM. Details at the December 12 Movement’s website.

Need another fall course?

  • Contemporary Urban Writers (ENG 229) meets synchronously online Tu/Th 3:30-4:45 PM. It’s a writing intensive survey of Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Black writers and their views of the city. Details and fuller description at the course website.
  • African American History (AAS/HIS 245) meets synchronously online Wednesdays from 6-8:40 PM. Details and fuller description at the course website.
  • US Latin@ Literature (ENG/AAS 339) meets synchronously online Thursdays from 6-8:40 PM. Details and fuller description at the course website.

Quick highlights from Week 15 (5/12)’s class:

  • Covered chapter 8 (Black Economics) in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies.
  • Lecture notes in the usual spot. This includes some exam prep info.
  • Zoom wait music: KRS-One and Boogie Down Production’s “Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love).” On Youtube
  • Break music: Pharaoh Sanders’s “Balance” from Izipho Zam. On Youtube.

Final Exam Info:

  • The final exam will be posted on the Final Exam page and the format will be a single essay question. You’ll have a choice of topics.
  • The exam will be visible starting on Sunday morning May 16th
  • There is no time limit
  • Format will be a single essay question. You’ll have a choice of questions
  • You can complete and return it anytime between Sunday May 16 and 11:59 PM Wednesday May 19
  • Submission will be via a Dropbox upload link on the Submissions Page, like we’ve used for papers all semester
  • Topics will be limited to what we’ve covered in chapters 6, 7, 8, and 10

Read my guide to final exams, “Zen and the Art of Finals” (PDF), which will help you begin to prepare for our final (and hopefully others as well). It summarizes much of what is usually in my prep sessions.

Remember the materials to help you review on this website:

  • Scroll through the weekly posts for a quick overview of the entire semester’s work (and reading questions)
  • My own Lecture Notes
  • Your own weekly discussion board posts

Help/ questions: I’ll be prioritizing exam-related emails this week. Please use the subject line “Final Exam Help” for finals-related questions only. I’ll respond within a couple of hours during the daytime and almost immediately between 6-8 PM Monday and Wednesday evenings. Simple questions will be quickest to answer: I might ask you to call me on Zoom if it’s too much to sort out.

Office hours Zoom: No more Zoom class meets (obviously), but I’ll have Zoom office hours on Monday 5/17 from 6-8 PM. Drop in using the link here.

Read my guide to final exams, “Zen and the Art of Finals” (PDF), which will help you begin to prepare for our final (and hopefully others as well). It summarizes much of what is usually in my prep sessions.

See my final exam presentation from the last Zoom session–posted on the Lecture Notes page. (It summarizes what’s in the “Zen and the Art of Finals” PDF file.)

Remember the materials to help you review on this website:

  • Scroll through the weekly Course Updates posts for a quick overview of the entire semester’s work (and reading questions)
  • My own Lecture Notes

Comments on posts:

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post for the “Leave a Comment” button below. Here’s how it works: you can use this to discuss points raised here.  A few points:

  • Your first comment will have to be approved by me: after that, you can comment without approval
  • Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
  • You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
  • Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates
  • The comments section closes 14 days after a post goes live

To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either the reading or my lecture using some of the questions raised or conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. You can also ask a question–for me or others–but that doesn’t count toward your comment and reply needed for the grade. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have two weeks to write those two comments for credit.

End of semester freestyle: We’ve made it (almost) all the way to the end of another semester. It’s honestly been hard for me to concentrate and keep up with everything and I’ve tried very hard, but wish I’d done more/ been more on point / fill in the blank. You’ve all been incredibly patient with me the whole semester and the engagement with my lectures and the discussion boards has really been impressive. I’m trying to return the favor. Right now we’re all learning much bigger stuff than anything I could’ve planned to teach and we’re sorting it out in real time as we learn new ways of being with/ among/ part of each other in New York City. Which I guess really is the point of the class, after all. But I’ll shut up now before this becomes a book. Anyway, thank all of you for being you … and for just being. Sometimesit’s good to think about nostalgic, carefree versions of life as we thought it once was and hope it might be again. Before he became a leading man, Will Smith was half of the duo Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Their ode to a carefree, simpler summer resides below. In the words of the late Amiri Baraka, may we “all, all , all, ALL, survive. I wish you … good luck.”


12 thoughts on “Spring 21 Final Exam

  1. As this class and the textbook draw to an end, Dr. Maulana Karenga gives a framework for taking what we have discussed this semester into our futures. He offers encouragement by breaking “critical thinking” into basic components that can buffer us to “speak back” when we encounter distortions or when we have the opportunity to share with others what we have learned: 1) cognitive skills 2) intellectual dispositions 3) persistent practice (426). In our current hyperpolarized society, these three practices can engender resistance, no matter how basic and righteous they seem. However, like learning a musical instrument, I would hope that they will strengthen with constant practice.

    Now we are coming up on the 100th remembrance of the Tulsa Race Massacre, a major episode of American history that has been, in the words of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, “written out of the respectful record” as so very much of African and African-American history has been. My job going forward is to read, digest, and be prepared to argue for a reclamation of actual history. Learning about the history of the African diaspora in the context of Kemet and other ancient Black cultures has been really helpful in reorienting toward a much longer view. Within the discipline of African Studies, as Dr. Karenga explains, “the greatest part of the truth is often hidden below the surface” (428); he advocates for continuous exploration and learning in order to equip ourselves to engage in constructive argumentation. For me, this offers a note of hope about what one small individual can do—things such as actively employing dignity-affirming language and learning to speak with historical specificity–especially the history that has so grievously and improperly been written out of the “accepted” narrative.

    My very best wishes to my classmates as we all carry what we’ve learned into the world and strive to maintain the principles of maat and djaer in all that we do.

    With respect and affection,


    • Hi Sato. I love the quote you used that “the greatest part of the truth is often hidden below the surface” . It can apply to various topics and parts of life, but regarding human history and black history, it is also true. I remember back in high school, one of my history teachers would always tell us that “history tends to be written from the perspective of the victors/oppressors”. In this regard, I would say he is right considering what about history and less known history we have learned about this semester.

      I think it is important to follow our hearts and if we do not agree with something, we shouldn’t just agree with an accepted narrative, but instead we should seek to defend our viewpoint(s) and strengthen our mental fortitude, mental resistance, and our mental capacity and will to learn.

      It is always good to go around with an open mind, but one thing I’ve learned from this class and from everyone in this class—there is always more to discover and learn and there are always multiple turns and sides of a story/history.

      Thank you for your comment, Sato. You were a great help this semester. I wish you the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In this chapter Dr. Karenga made us aware that Black studies critical thinking attempt to find unknown explanation and proof in black history and culture also review Eurocentric theory along with properly explaining African as well as human reality.
    Dr. Karenga highlight the three crucial elements that are necessary for Critical Thinking as cognitive skills, intellectual disposition and persistent practice.:
    Critically analyze concepts
    The capacity for meticulous self-reflection on our own thought and practice.
    The ability to recognize as well as explain problem while working out solutions to them are among the cognitive skills needed.


    • Hi Diana, those three crucial elements will surely be great assets to use in the future. And the future starts now :).


    • Hi Diana,
      That summary is a really fitting note upon which to end this semester 🙂 I think this class has allowed us to access these tools and point others to them as well. As D’Andre commented below, the future starts now and it starts with us 🙂 Have a great summer!


  3. From Chapter 8, William Wilson’s viewpoint on race and class are that they are “the bases of black exploitation and oppression” (Karenga 343). From his The Declining Significance of Race (1978) he also argues that class divisions amongst blacks “impede an overall solution to the problem of Black economic development”. He seeks to shine light on lopsided class development/divisions between blacks and that class, now more so than race, are key factors affecting life chances and institutional access.

    As a result of this shift from race issues being the outright issue to issues based on societal position, Wilson contends that this has created a black working class that is becoming increasingly insensitive to the needs of the lower class.

    There are many arguments against Wilson’s viewpoints such as that there are not as many blacks in these higher-tier positions, racial differences in pay, blacks aren’t in leadership positions, are continuously discriminated against, etc. These arguments try to downplay Wilson’s viewpoint that race is no longer an issue. In my viewpoint, these counter-arguments are not trying to disprove that class is not an issue. Moreover, it seems to me as if these counter-arguments try to highlight how issues evolve and that even seemingly new issues have roots still tied to race and racist policies/viewpoints.

    Despite Wilson having some more controversial opinions, his thoughts are based on real issues. Perhaps he just understates some too much or overstates some too much. Which one it is depends on the situation and topic.

    More recently (around 2010) Wilson brought up structural/institutional racisms as obstacles in the way of attaining more racial equality. One such example of his of why or how structural racisms impact blacks is that poor attitudes/outlooks on important structures in society (such as jobs) creates a negative relationship between these institutions of power and those who are trying to succeed within.

    He believes legislation is necessary to confront structural and cultural forces that create/promote/reinforce/defend racial inequalities head on.

    This is from the section about Race and Equality from pages 342-345. I tried my best to make sense of it, but if any of it is wrong or you have a different viewpoint then me, please feel free to correct me or add on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey D’Andre I really like your statements on William Wilson but I want to raise a question do you think that Mr. William would have the same problems with race or would he have a completely different problem with society. Or could he view race as a solution. Sorry just thoughts I had.


    • I remember reading William Julius Wilson in the 1990s in The Atlantic and the New York Times and being shaken up by some of his ideas about how to look at crime–but they did also succeed in waking me up a bit and forcing me to challenge some of my entrenched ways of thinking. Have you read Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste? It seemed to me that she elaborated on some his original ideas of class distinction in Black American life in a a slightly different context, using global comparisons. At any rate, I thought found the book provocative and well worth reading (also loved her book on the Great Migration).


  4. Dr. Karenga, in this last chapter, seeks to engender a will and desire within us readers to continue on with what we have learned as well as with the skills and tactics we have learned.

    For instance, it is always good to try to find out more about subjects. There is always more to a story than meets the eye, and what we’ve learned surely cements this idea. To critically think, is to think beyond surface level.

    Through continual practice, exercising of our cognitive skills, and being persistent with what we do we can become more adept in our day to day activities, whether learning/researching something new or trying to learn a new skill these tips from Dr. Karenga.

    Black studies scholars have also proven this semester that it is necessary to challenge common ideas and that it is necessary to seek the truth and put passion towards all subjects, which in the case of this course is black history and historical circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D’Andre, thank you for sharing your perceptive distillations of these last readings. Your conclusion, that it is “necessary to seek the truth and put passion toward all subjects,” is brilliant, inspiring, and sums up the whole long scope of what we learned about in this class. I will carry that with me going forward. Best wishes for all your future studies.


  5. This was a really interesting and crucial chapter and I’ll miss the chance to discuss it in class like the others (semester really flew by). What primarily brought me to this class was the Black Lives Matter movement that rightfully took center stage last summer, when COVID had brought most of the world to a standstill so that the noise had dulled and the smoke of our individual pursuits had to dissipate, and the police brutality against people of color that has gone on for so long became impossible for the nation to ignore or be distracted from. I just find it really striking that the LA Sentinel article cited in this chapter (section 11.8) paints a picture of a society that truly hasn’t changed much at all, despite the same unacceptable conditions:

    “And so…after another unconcealable incident of police iron-fist and deadly force in the Black community and other communities of color, it goes like this. First…shock, shared grief, righteous anger and outcry against the brutal injustice of it all, and a call for accountability and justice from the family and community. Then…problematic press conferences, media “descent”…inevitable call for cool heads…better to call off the demonstrations and demands and “wisely” wait and let the system run its course…administrative reassignment or leaves for the involved officers with pay until resolution…sometimes, however, the people win and the offending officers are sacrificed and labeled “rogue” to save the reputation of the department…”

    I could go on quoting–the whole article could have been written last week; it just goes to show that, even with the bare-minimum justice gotten for George Floyd, this horrifying process is still repeating itself with a nauseating frequency and a chilling similarity.

    LA Sentinel, 2008: “The restraint and reorientation of the police must be achieved in struggle on several levels, including evaluation, training, investigation and punishment”.

    I’ll miss this class but I take with me so much new and vital knowledge. Please stay safe out there. Love, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chapter 11 was an interesting topic because unlike the other chapters this one tells you how to understand those chapters. That being said this chapter goes on to tell us about methods to use or reasons why we should use them like this one. “The African Studies critique assumes that the greatest part of the truth is often hidden below the surface.”(428) It tells us that we should face a problem or fact with intellect. To use your brain to digest information and maybe even see it in a new way. and last but most importantly to keep at it with the same vigor of trying to survive. Honestly I will use these three “rules” whenever I am faced with a new fact or news. I am very grateful for this class and even though I don’t really talk in class the sessions truly make me think more about how we got here as a society and the struggles some had to face.

    Liked by 1 person

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