***WINNER, 2008 PEN Oakland - Josephine Miles National Literary Award
Blacks have been vanishing from college campuses in the United States and reappearing in prisons, videos, and movies. Cecil Brown tackles this unwitting "disappearing act" head on, paying special attention to the situation at UC Berkeley and the University of California system generally. Brown contends that educators have ignored the importance of the oral tradition in African American upbringing, an oversight mirrored by the media. When these students take exams, their abilities are not tested. Further, university officials, administrators, professors, and students are ignoring the phenomenon of the disappearing black student – in both their admissions and hiring policies. With black studies departments shifting the focus from African American and black community interests to black immigrant issues, says Brown, the situation is becoming dire. Dude, Where’s My Black Studies Department? offers both a scorching critique and a plan for rethinking and reform of a crucial but largely unacknowledged problem in contemporary society.
“One of the most significant contributions of Dude, Where’s My Black Studies Department? is what Brown teaches us about the African-American oral tradition, namely, about how its ‘difference’ from white American culture poses a constant challenge, and threat, to the ideal of integration in the classroom and on campus.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, editor-in-chief at the Oxford African American Studies Center
"Cecil Brown is one of the most gifted writers and brilliant intellectuals of his generation. His provocative analyses of contemporary black and American culture brims with insight. Unafraid to be controversial or to go against the grain, Brown never fails to make us think." —Michael Eric Dyson, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of Debating Race
“Some of the severest criticisms of African-American culture are being issued on op-ed pages and in books written by Caribbean-Americans. Are some Caribbean-Americans being used as pawns in an attack on African-Americans? Have some of them been awarded honorary "white" status as a reward? How does this conflict play out in academia? Writer Cecil Brown is one of the few African-American public intellectuals with the nerve to tackle this subject and he does so with his usual wit, savvy, and brilliance.” —Ishmael Reed, author of Mumbo Jumbo and Airing Dirty Laundry
Dude, Where's My Black Studies Department? by Cecil Brown