The Oberlin Review

65 Foundational Works in the Field of Africana Studies

Department of Africana Studies

June 14, 2020

Editor’s Note: This list of resources was originally attached to ABUSUA’s Letter to the Administration and Board of Trustees.  This following selection of works (written, visual and aural texts) have been combined by the faculty and affiliate faculty of Oberlin College’s Department of Africana Studies, to provide for its major, minor and interested students a list of what members of the department see as foundational works in the field of Africana Studies. The interdisciplinary nature of the field and the multi-disciplinary range of the contributors to this collection provides a broad, deep, and complex interpretation of works fundamental to the description, study, and creative expression of Africana peoples (continental...

ABUSUA Demands Institutional Reform from Administrators, Board of Trustees

ABUSUA

June 14, 2020

To Oberlin College and Conservatory administration and Board of Trustees ABUSUA, Oberlin’s Black Student Union, would like to express our anger and dissatisfaction with Oberlin's administration. The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others have made the world take a hard look at all of the continually ignored racist practices and institutions embedded in our society. Their painful deaths serve as a reminder of the systematic oppression and racism that continue to affect Black people in America. Oberlin has a legacy of activism and supporting the advancement of Black people. We would like to see these values reflected in Oberlin's response to the current Bla...

UAW Leadership Calls Outsourcing Plan Inconsistent with College’s Racial Justice Values

UAW 2192 Leadership Team

June 12, 2020

To Oberlin College, Historically, the United Auto Workers union has played an important role in pioneering civil rights and freedoms in and out of the workplace. The UAW has walked hand in hand with civil rights leaders and the civil rights movement — from helping fund the Montgomery bus boycott and the march from Selma to Montgomery to providing an office at the Solidarity House for Martin Luther King Jr., where he penned his “I Have a Dream” speech. The UAW was also there to post bail for Dr. King’s release in 1963 from a Birmingham City Jail. That is what the UAW stands for.  In a recent email from President Ambar where she spoke from the heart about the black community, she mentioned that “Oberlin ...

Conservatory Must Include More Work by Black Composers

J Holzen, OC ’20

June 10, 2020

Editor’s Note: This letter has been signed online by 356 members of the Oberlin community at the time of publication. To the deans and conductors at Oberlin Conservatory: Oberlin College, like many of our peer institutions, has recently issued statements on social media expressing its support for the Black community during this time. However, we request that you put a plan in place as an institution to hold the Conservatory accountable for these issues outside of its social media presence. Oberlin College prides itself on its liberalism and its progressivism, from being the first school to accept women and one of the first schools to accept African-Americans to its reputation for student activism. This in...

Incoming Students Voice Support for UAW

May 28, 2020

Dear President Ambar,  Oberlin Admissions chose an incoming class that cares about the world, and many of us committed out of a belief that the College felt the same way. Now, we’re not so sure. When we learned of Oberlin’s plans to lay off 108 unionized workers and replace them with an outside contractor, we were forced to question whether or not Oberlin is truly the school that was marketed to us. Oberlin claims the motto, “Learning and Labor,” but does it practice it? We have yet to be on campus, but we know that both learning and labor are equal parts of the ecosystem that makes Oberlin such a special community. We know that one cannot exist without the other.  “Think one person can change the world...

Ohio Federation of Teachers Responds to UAW Controversy

Melissa Cropper, President, Ohio Federation of Teachers

April 24, 2020

To President Carmen Twillie Ambar, We, the more than 20,000 members of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, stand in solidarity with our United Auto Workers brothers and sisters targeted for outsourcing at Oberlin College. Outsourcing more than 100 union workers in order to avoid paying health benefits is morally bankrupt in the best of times, but to do so during a global pandemic is absolutely unconscionable. Furthermore, union busting is especially egregious for an institution that markets its progressive history to draw students. As teachers, we know that the working conditions of the employees who make our schools run, whether that be custodians or food service providers, directly influence the ability of stud...

Black Student Leadership Endorses Universal Pass

Mowa Badmos, College second-year, co-chair, ASA, Blessing Bwititi, College third-year, co-chair, ASA, Benjamin Collado, College third-year, co-chair and treasurer, SOCA, Timothy Grant, College second-year, co-chair, ABUSUA, Seyquan Mack, double-degree fourth-year, chair, OCBMG, Deverrick McAllister Jr., College second-year, co-chair and student liaison, SOCA, Lauriel Powell, College second-year, co-chair, BSG, and Mike Sandifer, College third-year, co-chair, The Brotherhood

April 4, 2020

Dear Oberlin College and Conservatory Community Members,  These are difficult and scary times that we are living in. Since being evicted from campus amidst a global pandemic, none amongst us have been able to avoid the fallout of COVID-19. However, this crisis will especially impact Black students’ ability to succeed. As many of us will be deprived of the resources necessary for our success, the move to online classes will create greater disparity on an already uneven playing field. In addition, Black students are more likely to have been thrust into unsafe environments where we may face food and financial insecurity, as well as other circumstances that are beyond our control. All of these variables increase the likel...

OCOPE Resolution in Support of UAW

Julie Weir, President, OCOPE Reference & Academic Commons Assistant

March 13, 2020

We, the members of Oberlin College Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 502, stand in solidarity with our United Automobile Workers union brothers and sisters, and we wholeheartedly support them in their fight to preserve their jobs and the dignity of labor at Oberlin College. We strongly condemn the administration’s plan to lay off unionized custodial and food service workers and to replace them with outsourced labor, and we oppose any union-busting techniques. Furthermore, we are convinced that Oberlin’s future is best secured when the College treats all of its workers like the valuable members of the campus community they are — rather than as expendable units of labor.  ...

Oberlin Has Transparency Problems

Les Leopold, OC ’69

March 13, 2020

Oberlin College’s administration claims that contracting out 108 union dining and maintenance jobs will save over $2 million a year. But where is the evidence for this claim? Good governance requires full transparency so that all the stakeholders impacted have the information needed to evaluate such dire actions as well as the overall financial health of the College. That is far from the case here. Here’s what we have NOT seen to date:  1) The proposed non-union sub-contracts: How much do they cost, and with whom? How long do they last? How are quality control and student safety issues handled along the way? What are the quality, performance, and labor relations history of the contractors? 2) Administra...

A Note of Thanks from OSTF’s Producing Artistic Director

Paul Moser, Professor of Theater OSTF Producing Artistic Director

March 6, 2020

 The Oberlin Summer Theater Festival is closing its doors and will not be offering a 2020 summer season. Nagging fiscal and staffing problems that we’ve found increasingly challenging to overcome have finally come to a head and made the operation unsustainable.  A group of us started OSTF in 2009 as an experiment. It had a clear mission to present professional productions of great masterpieces of our theatrical heritage in rotating repertory; to make admission free, so we could attract a diverse audience of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds; to develop a core company of talented theater artists, including Oberlin alumni; to provide a professional venue associated with the College’s Theater department; t...

Why Tear Down Our Heroes? We Need Them Now

Peter Takács, Professor of Piano

March 6, 2020

 Saturday night, I went to Finney Chapel to hear Beethoven’s first two symphonies. It was exhilarating — hearing fresh, committed performances of revolutionary music. The student performers were on the same wavelength with each other and with our wonderful conductor, Professor of Conducting Raphael Jiménez. The audience was listening in rapt attention, cheering at the end of each revelatory piece. What’s wrong with this picture? Well, this is old music, part of the “hegemonic institution of the canon,” written by a dead white male, Eurocentric, a remnant of pernicious 19th-century patriarchy, an oppressive… okay, stop (“Beethoven’s Dead — Can We Move on Now?” The Oberlin Review, Feb. 28, 2020)...

Oberlin Must Be Sure to Take Care of Neighbors, Workers

Booker C. Peek, Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies

March 6, 2020

 Most of us agree that Oberlin College must pay all its workers a living wage. But perhaps not all support this view. There is no universally agreed-upon definition for what amount of dollars represents a “living wage” — a sum for one person or a family of four, for those living in the most expensive area of the country or the least expensive?  Let’s allow that the term lacks precision, but is a concept that must cover what we all think of as basic needs — food, housing, clothing, health insurance, etc. — with some notion of a barrier still, but hardly impossible to overcome. It is urgent for us to impress upon the College a sense of oneness as humans, caring and supporting each other in life’s jo...

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