American society has long championed the narrative of an incorporative and inclusive national identity, taking pride in the notion of "unity within diversity," E Pluribus Unum. In public discourse, this American brand of "multiculturalism" emphasizes the idea that one can be "American" and something else. However, with ascendance of an openly xenophobic and more narrowly nationalist administration under President Trump, it appears as if this inclusive national narrative has been broken.
In this roundtable, we would like to consider the particular experiences and perspectives of first and second generation Africans in America, for whom today's amplified "us vs. them" rhetoric threatens to fracture what W.E.B. Du Bois once called an African-American sense of "two-ness." What are the constraints on a doubly conscious "African" and "American" identity in the United States today? And, what are the challenges of sustaining a fragile social pluralism in a time of heightened ethnic (and racial) nationalism and patriotism?
Our discussion will begin with the music of Afroeuropean artist Ezé Wendtoin (Burkina Faso/Germany), whose music addresses many of these questions from a contemporary European vantage. Mr. Wendtoin will also join our panel, along with representatives from the African Youth League, Somali Student Association, and the Department of African American and African Studies.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of African American and African Studies, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Ethnomusicology Program in the School of Music, African Youth League the Somali Students Association and Hale Hall.