Review Comment

[AFAS G4080] Topics in the Black Experience: African Spirituality

May 12, 2010

Dawson, Daniel Silver_nugget
[AFAS G4080] Topics in the Black Experience: African Spirituality

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

My parents sent me to a privileged private school in hopes of providing me with a better education. In some ways, they succeeded as the education was indeed academically stimulating and challenging. However, in one specific way, the superior elite education failed. Although my classmates were of a high socioeconomic status and my school had extended unlimited resources courtesy of our wealthy donors and benefactors, the education addressing Africans in the Americas (North and South) was inferior. The religious, cultural and spiritual lives and contributions from Africans to the Americas was historically viewed from a pair of limited European/Christian bifocals. The lens was often depicted with a pejorative perspective. In essence, the education was partial and incomplete. Professor Dawson’s class demystified and rectified these many views that I had held until taking his class. Professor Dawson filled in the holes of my public and private school education. Contrary to my personal (and many others) beliefs, there is much more to African history than depicted in the media and current history books.

“African Spirituality” was revolutionary and enlightening for me as well as his other class “Maroons in the Americas”. This class covered topics that (a) should have been taught in every school on an elementary level and (b) if taught early on would change the perspective on how Africans in America holistically view themselves and how the world views Africans in the Americas. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take the classes. The guest speakers who provided personal and professional insight were priceless. It is a shame that Professor only teaches these 2 classes. I’m sure NYU and Columbia are grateful that he has chosen them as employers.

PROS: Professor Dawson has a wealth of knowledge on the African Diaspora from a historical and academic perspective. He is very accessible and has an unlimited amount of information. If he does not have an answer to a question (which is rare), he simply says I don’t know. I appreciate the honesty. His outside references of books are countless. The classroom atmosphere is small and informal.

CONS: Professor Dawson can go off on tangents because of his vast knowledge. However, his experience, gusto and enthusiasm make up for this one shortcoming.


Weekly readings and discussion logs, 1 take home midterm (7 pages), 1 presentation, 1 take home final paper (10 pages).

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
ARAF / AFAS ARAF AFAS G4080: Topics in the Black Experience: African Spirituality Daniel Dawson 2010 Spring T / 2:10- 4:00 PM 2