A new course at San Diego State University titled “Black Minds Matter: Focus on Black Boys and Men in Education,” is drawing sharp criticism from some conservative groups.
The weekly class, which was inspired in part by social justice group Black Lives Matter, will feature various speakers who will discuss how Black men are undervalued in the classroom, according to the Associated Press. The course will be open for enrollment in October.
SDSU professor J. Luke Wood, who helped create the online course, said the class will draw connections between the Black Lives Matter movement and issues facing African-American men in educational settings. The class is intended for students looking to become education professors and will focus on instructing future teachers on how to help Black male students excel in school.
“The Black Lives Matter movement has shed light on two invariable facts,” Wood said in a video describing the class. “First, that Black boys and men are criminalized in society and, second, that their lives are undervalued by those who are sworn to protect them.”
A coalition of conservative groups and even some civil rights activists have called on the university to cancel the doctoral class, however. Craig DeLuz, a gun rights advocate with the Sacramento-based Firearms Policy Coalition and member of Robla Elementary School District board of trustees, argued that a public university shouldn’t be teaching a course inspired by an organization that’s been accused of promoting violence.
“Now, we want to give them taxpayer dollars to train educators on how to indoctrinate our children?” DeLuz, who is Black, said in a press release Tuesday, Aug. 29. “That’s insane.”
“Black Lives Matter is a political movement,” he added. “And even worse, it’s a movement whose members have promoted segregation and violence against law enforcement.”
After hearing about the course via Facebook, DeLuz said he plans to send a letter to SDSU calling for its cancellation before its scheduled start on Oct. 23. He has since launched a Facebook page, Education Not Indoctrination, and recruited leaders from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Frederick Douglass Foundation of California to support his effort, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The local organizer said he understands what Wood is trying to do but is concerned about the list of speakers set to address the class. They include Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and Ilyasah Shabazz, a teacher and daughter of late civil rights activist Malcolm X.
“I hear what he’s trying to say,” DeLuz said of Wood. “But I have a lack of confidence in what these folks [the guest speakers] are going to say as part of the class.”
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, has his reservations about the class, too, calling it a “monumental waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Wood views his class and the Black Lives Matter movement differently, though. He told the San Diego Union-Tribune he doesn’t see the group as violent but rather as a response to the systemic violence African-Americans have suffered at the hands of law enforcement.
“We’re organizing around Black Lives Matter’s guiding principles of loving engagement, empathy, values and restorative justice,” he said.