Monday, June 26, 2017

An Invitation to Winona State University

In early March, this year, I received a message from Mr. Alexander Hines, director of Inclusion and Diversity at Winona State University, asking whether I would be willing to go and give a presentation on Africans and African Americans, with a focus on the cultural dimension.

Mr. Hines and I have known each other for about fifteen years, and I am both humbled and gratified by how much he appreciates my work. I accepted the invitation and will be speaking tomorrow, June 27. My talk will be part of the annual HOPE Academy program held in the summer.

This is the third time Mr. Hines has invited me. The first time, I discussed my book, Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences. The second time, I dwelt on the educational function of African folktales, focusing on Matengo Folktales, as I reported on my Swahili blog.

The topic for tomorrow's talk--the relationship between Africans and African Americans--is vexed, intriguing, and frustrating, not only to me but to others across the ages. It is problematical and lends itself to responses ranging from romantic illusions to blatant stereotypes.

In my book, Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences, I make some remarks highlighting the differences between Africans and African Americans. I hope to do the same during my talk tomorrow. If I can inspire critical reflection on both the illusions and the stereotypes, I will be pleased.

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