In 2020, as the Black Lives Matter protests gathered strength in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, Duke President Vince Price released a statement committing the university to “take transformative action now toward eliminating … systems of racism and inequality.” He listed expected steps: diversity in hiring and admissions, additional aid, salary equity, Juneteenth as a Duke paid holiday. More, he pledged to “incorporate anti-racism into our curricula … across the university.”
One of the first places that led was to UNIV 101: The Invention and Consequences of Race, a new universitywide course addressing the very concept of race, and how it was created and what it has wrought. That 14-week course was the first time Duke had addressed a topic like this in a universitywide course.
When it was time to create the UNIV 101: The Invention and Consequences of Race, professor Kerry Haynie had an issue. The course came about as part of Duke’s antiracism effort, and Haynie’s central concern was simple: “I don’t know what people mean by antiracist,” he said. “I mean, I think I have an idea of what they think they mean.
“But I don’t know how to do that. That is not what I do as an academic.”
It was a heavy lift. How do you create a course with a goal like that? How do you make sure you’re teaching, not proselytizing? It’s a complicated issue, so the Devils’ Share attended that course to document. How’d it go? Did the students like it? Did they learn things? How’d the professors feel it went? What was it like to create such a course? What worked and what didn’t? And, of course, what did everybody learn about race?
So take a listen to “The Race Course,” as The Devils’ Share documents a university taking steps towards antiracism — whatever that turns out to mean.
TRANSCRIPT of TRAILER:
MUSIC SLOWLY UP, UNDER
New from The Devils’ Share, the podcast of Duke Magazine: The Race Course.
25:15 (FROM EP 1)
Because when we commit to an antiracist mission we will become a better and a more perfect vision of the great institution i believe we are
22:50 (FROM EP 1)
I don’t know what people mean by antiracist. I mean I think I have an idea of what they think they mean, but I don’t know how to do that. That is not what I do as an academic.
MUSIC UP then UNDER
Race. Antiracism. Critical race theory. Everybody is talking about race, and the only truly clear thing is that we don’t even know what we mean when we say it.
ACTUALITY UP then UNDER
29:04 (FROM EP 5)
Does anybody here know what affirmative action actually is? You’re not alone … you’re not alone.
5:51 (FROM EP 4)
And they were told, and I’ve been told this by people who were present at the time, that they can have either an excellent white teacher, or an unidentified, mediocre black one. The students were offended.
Continued 22:50 (FROM EP 1)
And what I thought would happen, and I think is the best way to approach, is to do what we do as academics, do it as an evidence-based course.
MUSIC BRIEFLY UP then UNDER again
Duke University pledged to include antiracism in its curriculum. That led to a new course, available to every student: University 101, the Invention and Consequences of Race. A dozen or so scholars, a hundred or so students, all committing themselves to figuring out what we talk about when we talk about race. The Devils’ Share, the podcast of Duke Magazine, went along for the ride, and now so can you.
11:20 (FROM EP 4)
critical race theory is like this buzzword right used by like the conservative, right, as something that is like to be demonized or villainized, as part of like, you know, anti academia, anti science, etc. But I think like, it was very, I like, did not know what it was I had heard the word. But I think one of the, like, powerful things is that like at it’s in, it’s like simplest definition, and it is literally just taking a critical look at like race relations in America through a context of history. And so I think that was really powerful. I also didn’t know it came out of law, which was like, very interesting to me. I had no idea.
Listen to The Race Course — the new series by The Devils’ Share, the podcast of Duke Magazine. At dukemag.duke.edu or wherever you get your podcasts.
MUSIC UP AND OUT