I’m very leery of bringing politics into the classroom, and usually I retreat from any type of contemporary connection, since I mostly teach stuff way back when, but it just seemed wrong to be teaching a history class and totally ignore this historic moment. As it happened, I was teaching race in both my classes, so I decided to run with it.
With my freshmen, I did it as a historical exercise. What histories will this moment be a chapter or a footnote in? Then we veered into the reading on the Roman Empire, which just happened to be about the Romans incorporating strangers and dealing with difference. So it was kinda legit.
With the upper division, we were reading about the construction of race, so we broke down the racial discourse around Obama, and then compared it with the historical construction we had read about. It was a little bit of an encounter group, but maybe not too bad.
I hope I’m not a left-wing indoctrinating professor now.