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Ivy League ‘Discomfort’ Leads to Black Cuba

In 2002, Robin Hayes was a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in African American studies and political science. Yet, she wasn’t feeling so Ivy League.

So she embarked on a journey to find herself, along with several other academics who felt similarly out of place at Yale. The group of African American studies graduate students, dubbing themselves “The Black Resistance Reading Group,” decided to take a “field trip” to Cuba.

That whirlwind weeklong trip became a documentary: “Finding our Revolutionary Selves in Black Cuba,” produced and directed by Hayes.

Now an assistant professor of ethnic studies and political science at Santa Clara University, Hayes has been screening the documentary across the country. Visit to view scenes from the documentary and read what Hayes had to say about the conflicts that led to its creation, including the group’s discomfort at Yale.

“That is something that is not only specific to Yale,” Hayes says. “It really articulates how we’re struggling in the academy in general. But part of what I would hope people would draw from it is the way in which African American studies as institutions within these institutions can be a way to help resolve some of these conflicts and discomforts.”

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