AAAS at MSU is a Black Studies Department that embraces, without apology, Black Feminisms, Black Gender Studies, and Black Sexuality Studies. Our mission is to provide an integrative education that engages conditions of Blackness locally and transnationally. We have three organizing inquiries that motivate and sustain our work: 1) Black Cultures and Institutions, 2) Black Girlhood Studies, and 3) Black Speculative Ecologies. We specialize in community and cultural works, cultivating radical imagination, and collective revolutionary knowledge production. As a unit we are committed to making concrete connections between our scholarship, pedagogy, and social justice.


We insist that Black Studies uncovers and creates “technologies of living” for Black people and Black futures. And when we say Black people, we mean all Black people. And when we say Black futures, that is to say beyond survival into wellness.

Values and Practices

The following is a list of stated values and practices that guide and inform our departmental communication, structure, and conduct with each other and students as well as our decision-making moving forward. These values and practices are aspirational and practice makes better. By documenting our values and practices, calling attention to them regularly in our departmental meetings, and reviewing/editing them annually, we aim to remain mindful of how we want to be in relationship. When we do not keep these agreements, we support each other by encouraging skill building to increase our capacity to be responsive beyond default conditioning, extending grace, and beginning again.

We bring to our study, an intersectional analysis of power to change how ascribed categories of identity, differences, and privileges and the multiple ways systems of oppression unevenly marginalize many and impact us all. 

  • If I do not like something, I will share a solution.  
  • We welcome coalitions when we need to go beyond our sphere of influence in service of the department’s vision.  
  • I trust myself, my colleagues, and my people. My relationships will be respectful no matter rank, position, or title. 
  • If I sense a path forward, I do not assume others see it, so I find a way to express it to my colleagues.  
  • I share my dreams out loud with full authority that they can shape now and the future.  
  • In creating anew, I know healing is required and it’s timing is up to me and my guides. 
  • I have a full life outside of work and my life has meaning well beyond my labor and productivity.  
  • I will rest before I think I need it and before it is required.  
  • I trust that you care about me and understand my interests well enough that you will represent my interests even if I am not present. (Excerpted from Four Levels of Trust (1995) by Louise Diamond)  
  • I will create my/our “rest nest” – tools, mementos, etc. on the Second Floor and elsewhere. 
  • If I am upset or experience suffering, I will give compassion first to myself. And address it with the appropriate person as early as I can. 
  • I will affirm myself, the squad, our students, and our community. 
  • I will communicate my needs and desires, invite squad to do so as well, and go about/ask for help in pursuing them. 
  • I hold myself accountable and remain open to the kindness of my colleagues. 
  • I accept the chaos of new beginnings and stop demanding impossibility from me and my colleagues (Excerpted from Holding Change (2021) by adrienne maree brown). 
  • Alignment does not always mean agreement. Alignment means you’ve made peace with trusting the process and the other cultural workers who you’re building with. 
  • What’s learned here leaves here. What’s said here stays here. 
  • It is okay to pivot when there is a more productive way forward.  
  • Mistakes are required. I will be gentle with myself and my colleagues when mistakes occur and seek the lesson.  
  • I commit to discussing an agenda item no more than twice before I place my vote.  
  • I accept that we are forever building. 
  • As an institutional builder, I do not overstep boundaries nor use my ideas and power to control or dominate. 
  • In my speech, I use “I” statements to ground in my truth and share more of who I am with my colleagues (including my needs and boundaries).  
  • I treat people as humans, not as dispensable bodies and recognize their humanity is word and action.  
  • I willingly show up with my expertise and share my knowledge, gifts, skills, and talents.  
  • I hold space for joy, rather than rally around trauma and drama. 
  • I am well intentioned and assume my colleagues’ intentions are good. 
  • I will intentionally move slower keeping in mind wellness and health is necessary for sustainability. 
  • I am proactive about seeking support for what I need and also attending to the impact of my actions (Holding Change by adrienne maree brown, pg. 164) 
  • I make time to tend to my health and use my benefits. 
  • I will (learn to) say no to maintain a healthy balance of work and wellness. 
  • I release any shame or guilt associated with needing to pull back or adjust my commitments. 
  • I want us all to win.