Called African American History from Plessy to Obama, it was similar to a number of courses taught on campuses across the country that had spun off from the historic election. The one distinction lay in the fact that I was not teaching it in the United States; I offered it to students at Moscow State University, as part of a Fulbright fellowship in Russia. They knew about the brutally repressive aftermath of Reconstruction; they were conversant in the social and economic forces that inspired the Great Migration; and they could speak to the history of black exclusion from labor unions in the first half of the twentieth century. One student noted that Russia abolished serfdom in , the same year that the war which ended slavery in the United States began. They were easily more knowledgeable on these matters than were most white students and many black students I had encountered at American colleges. Their erudition was not entirely surprising, however. During the Cold War, Soviet school curricula highlighted the exploitation of black people as a prime example of both American hypocrisy and of the rapacious nature of the capitalist system.
Why We Wrote This
Such a wide variety of backgrounds and approaches highlights the complexity of defining, conceptualising and situating the connection between Russia and Africans. In his introduction to the panel, Allison Blakely spoke of how he found himself the unwitting founder of a sub-field. Blakely began learning Russian while in high school as his response to the launch of sputnik, and after focusing mainly on American history as an undergraduate, switched to Russia while in his PhD program, perhaps mainly because he already knew Russian. The project that became his book Russia and the Negro was born out of his own experiences of race prejudice on both sides of the iron curtain and personal scepticism towards the claims of both superpowers during the Cold War. Lounsbery argued that African-American literary critics were attracted to Pushkin not only because he was of African descent — although this was critical — but for a number of interconnected reasons. Due to his status as an aristocrat, a friend of the tsar and a serf-owner, Pushkin offered the chance to discuss issues of access to power and privilege for people of African descent, as well as the intriguing case of a black man owning white bonded labourers. Pushkin gave African-American writers to discuss taboo issues of race-mixing at a time when miscegenation was illegal in the majority of American states.
Two ways to read the story
What was different in was that the meddling came from overseas. December 6, About two-thirds of Russian activity on social media seeking to influence the election was aimed at black Americans, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report. And at least one of the Moscow-linked trolls was focusing on Charlotte, North Carolina. It was even steeper in North Carolina. In Charlotte, more than a few people were duped by fake Russian social media accounts as riots rocked the city in the wake of a police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Since then, civic engagement in Charlotte is up, activists say, and the city has changed for the better. As he marched in protest through Charlotte shortly before the presidential election, Theodore Smith could not shake a strange suspicion that a foreign force was stalking his city. What had begun as a heartfelt popular response to the police shooting of a local black man was taking on an unfamiliar hateful edge that felt inauthentic. On the internet, he saw protest campaigns that seemed to be no more than mash-ups of images designed simply to stir instinctive emotions.
When my aunts and mom told me, I got really upset. Later, as a teenager 14 years old when I was in Mid high school in South Africa a fellow student asked me if I saw myself as White or Black. I was confused with the question and had no idea how to answer. Moving schools made you discover something new about yourself, trying to make friends or fit in with an accent and coming from another country always came with a new realisation. I do think that mixed-race people get boxed into certain categories. I think some races can have negative attitudes towards mixed-race people, thinking they have best of both worlds. Even now with a Rwandese passport I am not considered a true Rwandese to many. My parents showed me that love has no colour. If I were to be born again I would return exactly as I am.