Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

'Same, Same, Different' panel discusses shortcomings in Black History education

Michigan Radio reporter and CMU alumnus Bryce Huffman speaks during “Same Same Different: Miseducation of Black History,” a live panel series tackling errors between academia and black history on Feb. 25 in the Sarah and Daniel Opperman Auditorium.

In commemoration of Black History Month, a live panel presented by Michigan Radio NPR, aimed to untangle the "the miseducation of Black History." 

Michigan Radio reporter Bryce Huffman returned to his alma mater to anatomize the errors in African American education in the realms of early education, collegiate development and in day-to-day schooling. 

His podcast, "Same Same Different," which took off on Oct. 7, aspires to elevate the narratives of marginalized and frequently miscalculated groups. Often utilizing his platform to clarify the concept of "otherness" throughout people, "Same Same Different: The Miseducation of Black History" program illustrated this concept with a center on learning. 

Joined by political science faculty member Sterling Johnson and Director of Diversity Education Nikita Murry, the Central Michigan University segment unreeled the means and circumstances of "foundation." For example, what is the foundation of a person and what is the foundation of a country? 

"Your opening statement was about slavery," Sterling said about Huffman's introduction. "(It) was never mentioned in the constitution and was never mentioned by the framers – neither was the word 'bank.' Without slavery, there are no banks. So how ignorant can we be?" 

As the panelists nosedived into their past, where words like "slavery" often seemed to vanish from any type of academic dialogue, Sterling left a warning to all parties involved: "when we stop sharing our narrative, we constantly embrace white supremacy."  

Huffman reflected on his experiences in a class he took in 2010 at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, "American Society Since 1945." 

The class was his backup elective when not enough students signed up for African American History that year. 

"We get to the point of the semester when we're talking about the civil rights movement and I noticed there's something missing," he said, concerning how the word "slavery" was never spoken of. 

"If there's no mention of slavery there's no through line connecting everything that happened from 1619 up into the point where leaders like (Martin Luther King Jr.) and Malcolm X were active."  

After the unit, Black History was never alluded to until President Barack Obama's election in 2008, suggesting nearly a 40-year-long gap of noteworthy black people. 

"If you're white, you could live in America and really not have to know anything about Black Culture or black people and be perfectly okay and not have it impact your world in any type of way," Murry said. "But when you're a person of color you cannot live in the world and not know about white society." 

Murry said progress exists in the form of passing down stories, cultivating better transparency and challenging self-image. 

"At some point, we need to start being authentic in who we are politically and in any other way," Murry said. 


About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

View Posts by Samantha Shriber →