Examining Black Nationalism
Visiting author speaks on recent book and her notions of “blackness”
A mix of colors filled the Barrick Museum Auditorium on Thursday to hear a lecture on blackness.
Melanye Price of the Wesleyan University Department of Government kept a crowd of more than 50 people engaged with a lively lecture entitled “Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African-American Public Opinion.”
UNLV’s departments of political science, women’s studies, public administration, sociology and history sponsored the event.
Price touched on Black Nationalism and the future of black politics, while promoting her new book “Dreaming Blackness.”
The diverse audience was quick to throw out answers to Price’s question, especially about current events.
The election of President Barack Obama is “the event no one seems to stop talking about,” Price said, adding that he gained an unprecedented 96 percent of the black vote.
“I think he’s doing a good job,” Price said. “He has the ability to make people believe he wholeheartedly believes everything they believe.”
Supporting her views on politics, Price explained the foundations of her interest in Black Nationalism.
Price, who has been intrigued by the movement since middle school, said part of the reason for her interest was, “because Public Enemy told me I should be.” Price explained that she considers the rap group a street-level black history course.
Price’s presentation listed the tenets of Black Nationalism, including self-determination, self-help programs, severing ties to whites that foster notions of black inferiority and the Pan-African identity.
Price addressed how each of the tenets play a role in Black Nationalism, explaining that members of the black community show varying degrees of support for the ideology.
“[Many] blacks accept some of these tenets, Price said. “Most do not accept them all.”
In her book, Price developed a typology of Black Nationalism. Her lecture explained some of the questions she faced in the process.
In response to a question of whether she thinks most blacks feel their fates are linked to each other, Price said, “African-Americans by far believe this. Blacks view themselves as a collective, for better for worse.”
Price mentioned that those she surveyed in response to the question who were 25 years old or younger were more likely to reject the racial aspects of Black Nationalism.
“Black Nationalists are more likely to employ system blame than any other group,” Price said, adding that moderate supporters of Black Nationalism “use a mix of system blame and black blame.”
Price argued for open discussion and thought about race issues, saying that there is still a long way to go before racial equality is a reality.
When people say, “lets get beyond race,” that does not mean people should stop talking about it, she said. “People have the language of multiculturalism, but we haven’t seen the results.”
Brit Kreimeyer, a senior political science major who attended the lecture, commended the variety of races and cultures represented in the audience.
“We had a wide diversity of people here tonight,” she said.
Kreimeyer explained that her professor encouraged her immigration policy class to attend the lecture, adding that she learned from the presentation.
“I think it was important that [Price] talked about black blame, that it can be a form of racism,” Kreimeyer said. “I do think it’s relevant—yes.”
Other members of the audience were pleased with the topic but know it’s just a start.
“I found it interesting and to get to understanding… will require much more dialogue,” Kirk Walker, a senior English major said. He expressed the excitement and intrigue that led him, like many, to attend the event.