Professor Tukufu Zuberi and his newly launched YouTube channel, “Curating National Narratives” invite you to a critical conversation on how national narratives are told.
The University of Pennsylvania Professor and History Detectives host Tukufu Zuberi’s research on race and African and African diaspora populations has taken him around the globe to lecture at colleges and universities. Dr. Tukufu Zuberi is the curator of several exhibitions, including two locally lauded presentations. “Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River” at the Seaport Museum. And the Penn Museum’s “Africa Galleries From Maker to Museum”.
When the world shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the educator pivoted in his role as a documentarian and social critic and recently launched a YouTube Channel, called “Curating National Narratives.”
As the founder of his own production company, he has already planned six months of programming which will feature his documentaries, African Independence; a history of ancient Sudan entitled, “Before Things Fell Apart” and “Decolonizing The Narrative,” a series on museums, reparations, restitution, and race.
“So what I’m trying to do is provide a space for a critical engagement with how national narratives are told. Who comes up with the idea and what it does to us,” explained the sociologist. “It is through the national narrative that we know what a citizen is, what a person is and how being a human being is defined. We need to know the trajectories of these national narratives because they’ll be told in film, music, museum exhibits, and books. And we need to know who’s the author of the national narrative, [because often] they don’t know they should not be authoring the national narrative because they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
He continued, “There’s no parity and no equality between the enslaver and the enslaved. The enslaved is on the side of justice, and that’s where the arc of history is pointing. And so the arc of the national narrative has to be directed towards that. And if you look now in the United States, Europe, and the world, national narratives have been hijacked by white supremacy. People are telling narratives that privilege whiteness, and the only objective in life is people talk about being equal to white people…[Instead] you got to give them a trajectory that is based in a history which valorizes humanity.”
Tukufu Zuberi was born Antonio McDaniel to Willie and Annie McDaniel and raised in the housing projects of Oakland, California in the 1970s. His Wikipedia bio explains that he embraced the name Tukufu Zuberi – Swahili for “beyond praise” and “strength.” He “took the name because of a desire to make and have a connection with an important period where people were challenging what it means to be a human being.”
Zuberi, a gifted instructor, goes on to tell the story of Terence, a former Roman slave who became a famous playwright around 170 BCE.
“Poet Maya Angelou used to always quote Terence. And he wrote one line which is very powerful, ‘I am a human. Therefore, nothing humans do is alien to me.’ Ultimately, it is very difficult to live with that kind of consciousness and to have that perspective towards people. But it is an invitation to bring back those who have lost their way through ignorance and to ask them to lose the arrogance that naturally comes from ignorance, which is to think you know something that you know nothing about. And it prevents you from getting in an open space to learn. And, as a teacher, that’s what I love: that space where people are interested in learning something new. This channel is offering new ways to look at who we are by understanding the experience of Black people better. Can we do that and is it time that we do that? It is the lesson that our people have been teaching from the days of Harriet Tubman to the days of Angela Davis.”
Feel free to see more of Dr. Tukufu Zuberi’s offerings by checking out Curating National Narratives – YouTube.