‘Those are the things that we need to be talking about’: the impact of learning about the history of racial oppression during Ghana study abroad

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Race Ethnicity and Education


This article examined what U.S. college students who participated in a Ghana study abroad program learned about the history of racial oppression and the meaning-making that resulted from that knowledge. Based on inductive thematic analysis of a variety of qualitative data sources, four themes were identified: (1) the suffering and resilience of African and African descent people; (2) ‘it’s still happening today’; (3) ‘you don’t learn about that in school’; and (4) remembrance, equity, and healing. Students expressed frustration with the U.S. education system which ‘breezes through’ the topics of slavery and colonialism. As connections between the past and present racial oppression in the United States and globally were recognized, students yearned for a forthright education and dialogue about racism as a first step toward acknowledging historical trauma and creating a racially equitable society. More explicit education related to slavery and colonialism and their current repercussions is needed.

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