Solange’s seminal album A Seat at the Table gave her the critical respect she’s long deserved (go listen to Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams or True and tell me that’s not good music), a Grammy for Best R&B Performance, and now a syllabus in her honor.
A team of Wake Forest University students participating in Elle magazine Elle.com Scholars program created an interactive, crowdsourced syllabus of texts and commentary concerning femininity, black identity, and the intersection of both.
The A Seat at the Table Syllabus takes a cue from the syllabus Candice Benbow created for Beyoncé’s Lemonade but pushes the project a little further by including the voices of its contributors who were specifically within the age range of 16 to 30.
“We really wanted it to be about young women and girls–women no older than Solange—who are still thinking about these things in the same way that we are,” says Mankaprr Conteh, an Elle.com Scholar and senior at Wake Forest University. “It’s very easy to marginalize young women and girls. For example, one of the books that’s on syllabus, written by Monique Morris, is Pushout and it’s about the criminalization of black girls in schools. There are these ways young women are being marginalized that are just different than the way that older women are being marginalized. [The Elle.com Scholars] are also young women. It’s just like Solange [says in her song “F.U.B.U.”]: this is for us, by us.”
The A Seat at the Table Syllabus comes at an absolutely critical time as President Trump’s administration appears to make the marginalization of certain communities a top priority. But, as the readings and discussions in the syllabus prove, it’s all just history repeating.
“A lot of the texts that we were able to crowdsource for the syllabus and a lot of the descriptions of why people thought they were important that we include them in the syllabus recognize that none of this is new,” Conteh says. “They tell the stories of disenfranchisement in the past. They tell the stories of how women have come to understand their their marginalization under political regimes within our social structures. I think that it really gives people a platform to learn about this current moment by reflecting.”
Download the A Seat at the Table Syllabus here.