Public Letter to the Chronicle : Response to Trump Syllabus 1.0

Over the past year, scholars have curated a number of public syllabi and reading lists, most crowdsourced through social media, to provide historical context for understanding various contemporary events and phenomena. Many of these carefully thought-out efforts represent the best of academic public engagement, respect for scholarly diversity, and a commitment to social justice.

On every count, the “Trump Syllabus” (June 24, 2016), published as part of The Chronicle Review’s special issue on the “phenomenon that is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” does not. We, the undersigned, find the “Trump Syllabus” highly objectionable and call upon The Chronicle Review to make immediate revisions.

The syllabus fails to include the works of scholars of color, thereby perpetuating the message that the only works worth reading in American political history are those written by white scholars. In a syllabus that promises to offer “insights from history, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, and beyond,” the authors have excluded seminal works in all of these fields written by scholars of color. It also centers the scholarship of (white) men and overlooks any work produced by LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups in the United States. The lack of diverse voices on this syllabus is not only inappropriate but also highly offensive. As the historian N.D.B. Connolly explains in the comments section, “this syllabus offers a disgraceful example of white methodological myopia.” Regardless of The Chronicle Review’s intent, the syllabus reinforces the same racist, sexist, and xenophobic messages articulated by Trump and many of his supporters.

The syllabus is also grossly inaccurate and incomprehensive in its avoidance of many central issues relating to the Trump campaign. A “Trump Syllabus” that fails to include works on sexism, racism, whiteness, immigration, xenophobia, Islamophobia, or nativism is not only intellectually dishonest but irresponsible. As educators, we have a duty and responsibility to present an accurate and nuanced portrayal of our history, and any attempt to explain the phenomenon of Trump’s campaign must take into account race, gender, and religion. Significantly, any discussion of Trump’s campaign must consider the voices and experiences of those most affected by Trump’s (divisive) rhetoric — namely, Latin@s, American Indians, women, Muslims, immigrants, and African-Americans. Avoiding these core voices, while emphasizing trivial issues such as “New York City in the era of Big Hair,” further serves to marginalize those who bear the brunt of criticism and disdain by Trump and his supporters. Integrating more diverse readings and perspectives would have significantly enhanced the syllabus by shedding light on key issues and historical developments, including white popular sovereignty, the racial contract, and “color-blind” racism.

Perhaps one of the most glaring omissions is the fact that the syllabus fails to acknowledge the intellectual genealogy on which it is based. So committed to presenting a “whites-only” portrayal of American political history, The Chronicle Review completely ignores the fact that it draws inspiration from several earlier initiatives led by scholars of color, including the #Fergusonsyllabus and the #Charlestonsyllabus. These efforts, rooted in urgent needs for racial awareness, utilize an interdisciplinary and inclusive approach to shed light on contemporary events — an approach sorely lacking here.

For all of these reasons, the “Trump Syllabus” should not have been published (as is) by The Chronicle Review. The editors’ decision to publish the syllabus without ensuring the inclusion of more diverse issues and voices only underscores their racial illiteracy. As Connolly so accurately explains in the comments section, “Intended or not, this document offers sad testimony to the ongoing segregation of American political history, and is far less an interrogation of racism than an artifact of racism itself.”

Signatures:

  1. N. D. B. Connolly, Johns Hopkins University
  2. Keisha N. Blain, University of Iowa
  3. Chad Williams, Brandeis University
  4. Stephen G. Hall, Alcorn State University
  5. Leah Wright, Harvard University
  6. David J. Leonard, Washington State University
  7. Walter D. Greason, Monmouth University
  8. Brandon R. Byrd, Vanderbilt University
  9. Kidada Williams, Wayne State University
  10. Andrea R. Roberts, University of Texas at Austin
  11. Hollis Robbins, Johns Hopkins University
  12. María Elena Cepeda, Williams College
  13. Adriana Estill, Carleton College
  14. Marla L. Jaksch, The College of New Jersey
  15. Sharon Block, University of California, Irvine
  16. Miranda Goulden, writer and editor, Milford. NH
  17. Julie Sze, University of California at Davis
  18. Phaedra C. Pezzullo, University of Colorado Boulder
  19. Bernadette Marie Calafell, University of Denver
  20. EJ Nielsen, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  21. Mary Stuckey, Georgia State University
  22. Caren Kaplan, University of California at Davis
  23. Susana Loza, Hampshire College
  24. Kenja McCray, Atlanta Metropolitan State College
  25. Jay Driskell, DC African American Studies Seminar
  26. Rita Shah, Elizabethtown College
  27. Curtis Marez, University of California, San Diego
  28. Daniel Gutiérrez, Free University of Berlin
  29. Jennifer Fronc, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  30. Luz Calvo, Cal State East Bay
  31. Kirsten Silva Gruesz, University of California, Santa Cruz
  32. Craig Dietrich, Digital Humanities at the Claremont Colleges
  33. Alexis Lothian, University of Maryland College Park
  34. William Orchard, Queens College/ CUNY
  35. Anne Cong-Huyen, Whittier College
  36. Mike Garabedian, Whittier College
  37. Cynthia A. Young, The Pennsylvania State University
  38. David Delgado Shorter, University of California Los Angeles
  39. Richard W. Morrison, Editorial Director, Fordham University Press
  40. Daniel Olmos, California State University at Channel Islands
  41. Shawn Leigh Alexander, University of Kansas
  42. Bryan Wagner, University of California, Berkeley
  43. Roderick A. Ferguson, University of Illinois, Chicago
  44. Adam Miyashiro, Stockton University
  45. Ernesto Chávez, University of Texas, El Paso
  46. Niels Hooper, Executive Editor, University of California Press
  47. Alex Lubin, University of New Mexico
  48. Dorothy Kim, Vassar College
  49. Susan McHugh, University of New England
  50. Rebecca Hill, Kennesaw State University
  51. Edmond Y. Chang, University of Oregon
  52. Victor Mendoza, University of Michigan
  53. Aimee Bahng, Dartmouth College
  54. Dot Porter, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
  55. Christina Sharpe, Tufts University
  56. Jordan E. Miller, Salve Regina University
  57. Andrew Cornell, Williams College
  58. Lisa A. Flores, University of Colorado, Boulder
  59. Kadin Henningsen, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  60. Pedro Castillo, University of California, Santa Cruz
  61. Gemmicka Piper, University of Iowa
  62. Miroslava Chavez-Garcia, University of California, Santa Barbara
  63. Matthew N. Noe, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  64. Kim Knight, The University of Texas at Dallas
  65. Karina A. Vado, The University of Florida
  66. Amanda Armstrong, University of Michigan
  67. T. Ewing, Tennessee State University
  68. Karen Anderson, professor emeritus, University of Arizona
  69. Jeff Helgeson, Texas State University
  70. Michele Grigsby Coffey, University of Memphis
  71. Celeste Day Moore, Hamilton College
  72. Kahlil Chaar-Pérez, University of Pittsburgh
  73. Le’Trice Donaldson, York College -CUNY
  74. Ibrahim Sundiata, Emeritus, Brandeis University
  75. Kabria Baumgartner, The College of Wooster
  76. Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, UC Irvine
  77. Elaine Lewinnek, California State University at Fullerton
  78. Monica Mercado, Bryn Mawr College
  79. Brent Cebul, University of Richmond
  80. Leslie A. Schwalm, University of Iowa
  81. Aleia Brown, Michigan State University Museum
  82. Paul C. Hébert, Independent scholar
  83. Paige Glotzer, Harvard University
  84. Peter Cole, Western Illinois University
  85. Carolyn Herbst Lewis Grinnell College
  86. Melissa Borja, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
  87. Susana Loza, Hampshire College
  88. Laura Warren Hill, Bloomfield College
  89. Dan Berger, University of Washington Bothell
  90. Tom Humphrey, Cleveland State University
  91. John Mckiernan-Gonzalez, Texas State University
  92. Ed Baptist, Cornell University
  93. Ayah Nuriddin, Johns Hopkins University
  94. Michael Innis-Jimenez, University of Alabama
  95. Ibram X. Kendi, University of Florida
  96. Kimberly J. Chandler, Xavier University of Louisiana
  97. Lori Flores, Stony Brook University (SUNY)
  98. Manuel Herrero-Puertas, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  99. Amira Rose Davis, Johns Hopkins University
  100. Shannon King, College of Wooster
  101. Edward Carson, Independent Scholar
  102. Neil Roberts, Williams College
  103. Sherie Randolph, Georgia Institute of Technology
  104. Neil J. Young, Independent Scholar
  105. Arica L. Coleman Independent Scholar
  106. Dana-Ain Davis Queens College, CUNY
  107. Keyanah Freeland, New York University
  108. Lauren Araiza, Denison University
  109. Sarah Hansen, California State University Northridge
  110. Margaret O’Mara, University of Washington
  111. Benjamin C. Waterhouse, University of North Carolina
  112. Adrian Burgos, Jr., University of Illinois
  113. Kim F. Hall, Barnard College/Columbia University
  114. Raj Chetty, St. John’s University, Queens
  115. Jenifer Barclay, Washington State University
  116. Kevin Boland Johnson, Grambling State University
  117. Crystal Hayes, University of Connecticut
  118. Adam Biggs, Univ of South Carolina Lancaster
  119. Michael McKoy, Wheaton College
  120. Betsy A. Beasley, Harvard University
  121. Keri Leigh Merritt, Independent Scholar
  122. Darrel Wanzer-Serrano, University of Iowa
  123. Catherine Denial, Knox College
  124. Melissa N. Shaw, Queen’s University
  125. Deirdre Cooper Owens, Queens College, CUNY
  126. Charles McKinney, Rhodes College
  127. Judith Weisenfeld, Princeton University
  128. Andrew Pope, Harvard University
  129. Elizabeth Todd-Breland, University of Illinois at Chicago
  130. Ashley Farmer, Duke University
  131. Lawrence Brown, Morgan State University
  132. Elizabeth James, University of Michigan.
  133. Hilary Green, University of Alabama
  134. Mark Padoongpatt, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  135. David Stein, Graduate Center, City University of New York
  136. Suzanne Smith, George Mason University
  137. Rob Widell, University of Rhode Island
  138. Ansley Erickson, Teachers College – Columbia University
  139. Delia Fernandez, Michigan State University
  140. Kellie Carter Jackson, Hunter College, CUNY
  141. Trimiko Melancon, Loyola University
  142. Charles L.Hughes, Rhodes College
  143. Eric Allen Hall, Georgia Southern University
  144. Jacqueline Wernimont, Arizona State University
  145. Alexandra Minna Stern, University of Michigan
  146. Roopika Risam, Salem State University
  147. Maria E. Montoya, New York University
  148. Amanda Phillips, University of California, Davis
  149. Anita Tijerina Revilla, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  150. Brian Eugenio Herrera, Princeton University
  151. Carlos E. Santos, Arizona State University
  152. Christienna D. Fryar, SUNY Buffalo State
  153. Alex Gil, Columbia University
  154. Cristalís Capielo, Arizona State University
  155. Aimée Morrison, University of Waterloo
  156. Annemarie Perez, California State University Dominguez Hills
  157. Shelley Streeby, University of California, San Diego
  158. Sharif Youssef, Amherst College
  159. Laura Isabel Serna, University of Southern California
  160. Patti Poblete, Iowa State University
  161. Jessica Rajko, Arizona State University
  162. Sandrine Emmanuelle Catris, Augusta University
  163. Eric Smoodin, University of California, Davis
  164. Ambereen Dadabhoy, Harvey Mudd College
  165. Joseph Ruanto-Ramirez, Claremont Graduate University
  166. Mason Williams, Albright College
  167. Diana Williams, University of Southern California
  168. Eric S. Yellin, University of Richmond
  169. Jessie Wilkerson, University of Mississippi
  170. Mo Speller, Johns Hopkins University
  171. Flor Olivo, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  172. Tabitha Chester, Denison University
  173. Richard Anderson, Princeton University
  174. Jeanne Theoharis, Brooklyn College of CUNY
  175. Bethany Moreton, Dartmouth College
  176. Pamela Voekel, Dartmouth College
  177. Cynthia Wu, University at Buffalo (SUNY)
  178. Nicole Hemmer, Miller Center, University of Virginia
  179. Maria Cotera, University of Michigan
  180. Jacinda Townsend, University of California, Davis
  181. Morgan Shahan, Johns Hopkins University
  182. Anastasia C. Curwood, University of Kentucky
  183. Michael Gill, Syracuse University
  184. Samuel Kelton Roberts, Jr., Columbia University
  185. Ruha Benjamin, Princeton University
  186. Brian Goldstein, University of New Mexico
  187. Fiona Barnett, Duke University
  188. Matthew K. Gold, City University of New York
  189. Michelle Brown, University of Tennessee
  190. James Dator, Goucher College
  191. Ariela Gross, University of Southern California
  192. Guian McKee, Miller Center, University of Virginia
  193. Skyler Gordon, Independent Scholar
  194.    Justin M. De Senso, Penn State Berks
  195. Kali Nicole Gross, Wesleyan University
  196. Patricia Satterstrom, New York University LP
  197.   Briana Asmus, Western Michigan University
  198. Carina Ray, Brandeis University
  199.  Lois Rita Helmbold, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (retired)
  200. Fred Lee, University of Connecticut, Storrs
  201. Kevin Gannon, Grand View University
  202. Cecilia Márquez, New York University
  203. Anita Chikkatur, Carleton College
  204. Stacey Patton, Morgan State University (former Chronicle reporter)
  205. Christina V. Cedillo, University of Houston-Clear Lake
  206. Danielle L. McGuire, Wayne State University
  207. Francoise Hamlin, Brown University
  208. Crystal M. Moten, Macalester College
  209. Deborah Menkart, Teaching for Change
  210. Minkah Makalani, University of Texas at Austin
  211. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, University of Washington at Seattle
  212. Michael Glass, Princeton University
  213. Bernice Olivas, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  214. Julian Hayter, University of Richmond
  215. Tamara Lea Spira, Western Washington University
  216. Grace Kyungwon Hong, UCLA
  217. Nancy Small, Texas A&M at Qatar
  218. David Shih, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  219. Rebecca Anne Goetz, New York University
  220. Christal Seahorn, University of Houston-Clear Lake
  221. Jonathan Dresner, Pittsburg State University, Kansas
  222. Brian Crie, University of California, San Diego
  223. Jonathan Hsy, George Washington University
  224. Ben Schiller, Teesside University
  225. Minh-Ha T. Pham, Pratt Institute
  226. M. Melissa Elston, Northwest Missouri State University
  227. Yari Perez Marin, Durham University
  228. Stephanie Smallwood, University of Washington
  229. Tony Platt, University of California, Berkeley
  230. Michaela Walsh, Bowling Green State
  231. Rebecca L. Davis, University of Delaware
  232. Ellen Samuels, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  233. Rick Ayers, Teacher Education, University of San Francisco
  234. Jessica Levy, Johns Hopkins University
  235. Crystal Feimster, Yale university
  236. Ebony Jones, New York University & Carter G. Woodson Institute
  237. Marcia Chatelain, Georgetown University
  238. Akinyele Umoja, Georgia State University
  239. Michael Todd Landis, Tarleton State University
  240. Danielle Olden, University of Utah
  241. Tim Lacy, Independent Scholar
  242. Christopher M. Geissler, University of Calgary
  243. Prithi Kanakamedala, Bronx Community College CUNY
  244. Lilian Calles Barger, Independent Scholar
  245. Timothy J. Lombardo, University of South Alabama
  246. Kennetta Hammond Perry, East Carolina University
  247. Ben Railton, Fitchburg State University
  248. Jeannette Estruth, New York University
  249. Joseph M. Adelman, Framingham State University
  250. Michael Dean Benton, Bluegrass Community and Technical College
  251. Bergis Jules, University of California, Riverside Library
  252. Toussaint Losier, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  253. Matthew Delmont, Arizona State University
  254. Jillian Martin, University of Georgia
  255. Alex Sayf Cummings, Georgia State University
  256. Tim Gloege, Independent Scholar
  257. Jesse Carr, University of Michigan
  258. Monica Greene, Arizona State University
  259. Saadia Toor, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
  260. Ari Kelman, UC Davis
  261. Danielle Olden, University of Utah
  262. Jeannette Estruth, New York University
  263. Julia Guarneri, University of Cambridge
  264. Nate Holdren, Drake University
  265. Kevin M. Kruse, Princeton University
  266. Sam Klug, Harvard University
  267. Eric Rauchway, University of California, Davis
  268. Elizabeth Lorang, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  269. Theresa Tiso, Stony Brook University
  270. Rachel Louise Moran, University of North Texas
  271. Lisa Levenstein, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  272. Michelle Moyd, Indiana University — Bloomington
  273. Robert Corber, Trinity College
  274. Tennille Allen, Lewis University
  275. Joshua Crutchfield, Middle Tennessee State University
  276. Heath W. Carter, Valparaiso University
  277. Joan McCarty,  Spelman College
  278. Derrick P. Alridge, University of Virginia
  279. Malea Powell, Michigan State University
  280. David Austin Walsh, Princeton University
  281. Aaron M Bornstein, Princeton University
  282. Ami Sommariva, University of California, Davis
  283. Suzanna M. Crage, Simon Fraser University
  284. Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Loyola University Maryland
  285. Tiffany Florvil, University of New Mexico
  286. John Munro, Saint Mary’s University
  287. LaDale Winling, Virginia Tech
  288. Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago
  289. Jean O’Brien, University of Minnesota
  290. Sharla Fett, Occidental College
  291. Leigh Fought, Le Moyne College
  292. Nishani Frazier, Miami University of Ohio
  293. Robert Bland, University of Pittsburgh
  294. Kendra G Hotz, Rhodes College
  295. Josh Davis, University of Baltimore
  296. Tiffany M. Gill, University of Delaware
  297. Dan Bouk, Colgate University
  298. Jessica Millward, UC Irvine
  299. Alexandra Puerto, Occidental College
  300. Robert Vitalis, University of Pennsylvania
  301. Maddy McCoy, Independent Scholar
  302. Megan McIntyre, Dartmouth College
  303. Clarence Lusane, Howard University
  304. Debora Kodish, Independent Folklorist
  305. Wanda Little Fenimore, USC Sumter
  306. Ella Dali Raynor, University of Central Florida
  307. M.B.Varville-Rodriguez, Author
  308. Tassie Gniady, Indiana University
  309. Raul Pacheco-Vega, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)
  310. Michael Johnson Jr., University of Passau
  311. William G. Rogers, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
  312. Whitney Myers, Independent Scholar
  313. James Sheldon, University of Arizona
  314. Linda Charnes, Indiana University, Bloomington
  315. Jessica Marie Johnson, Michigan State University
  316. Karla FC Holloway, Duke University
  317. R. E. Dubrofsky, University of South Florida
  318. Kathleen Livingston, Michigan State University
  319. Raymond Sean Walters, Independent Scholar
  320. P. Gabrielle Foreman, University of Delaware
  321. Christopher Cameron, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  322. Rasul A. Mowatt, Indiana University
  323. Krista Benson, The Ohio State University
  324. Karen Kelsky, Academic Career Consultant
  325. Mohan Dutta, National University of Singapore/Purdue University
  326. Heather Sinclair, University of Texas at El Paso
  327. Kristen Epps, University of Central Arkansas
  328. Mariola Espinosa, University of Iowa
  329. Oscar Winberg, Åbo Akademi University
  330. Philip Klinkner, Hamilton College 
  331. Briana Adline Royster, New York University
  332. Leah Gordon, Stanford University
  333. Michelle Y. Gordon, Emory University
  334. Aaron Byungjoo Bae, Arizona State University
  335. Virginia Spatz, We Act Radio’s Education Town Hall
  336. Peter Odell Campbell, University of Pittsburgh
  337. Cheryl Koos, California State University, Los Angeles
  338. Dwana Waugh, North Carolina A&T State University
  339. C. D. Bhimull, Colby College
  340. Robert Gutsche, Jr., Florida International University
  341. Christopher Churchill, Alfred University
  342. Melissa Estes Blair, Auburn University
  343. Thaisa Way, University of Washington
  344. David Bondelevitch, University of Colorado Denver
  345. April Merleaux, Florida International University
  346. Jason M. Williams, Montclair State University
  347. Kimberly Phillips-Fein, New York University
  348. Robin Phelps-Ward, Clemson University
  349. Katherine E. Browne, Colorado State University