America is woven of many strands; I would recognize them and let it so remain.  It’s “winner take nothing” that is the great truth of our country or of any country. Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat. Our fate is to become one, and yet many--this is not prophesy, but description. 

           Ralph Ellison

Aloha and Welcome to African American Studies

Our course revolves around a close reading of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, a story of a black American coming to terms with one of the great contradictions of American life: the promise of equality and the demand that some people must stay in their place. Through Ellison’s great novel we will tour the musical, artistic, literary and historical contours of modern American society and culture. I hope that you will approach this history as your own, with the understanding that a people singled out for slavery would hold American democracy to the test and would advance for all people the great possibilities embodied in Jefferson’s founding principle that all men are created equal.