For one reason or another, I have been groomed to be a loyal follower of Tupac. I have always been a fan of his music, poetry, acting, rhetoric, and overall message. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, I even took a class on Tupac titled, The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur led by an amazing and brave former professor of mine, Georgia Roberts. Now, as a graduate student in New York City, I’m taking a class on leadership development. Recently, we were given the opportunity to either write about a leadership development topic that interested us or the leadership development journey of a real person. Naturally, I chose Tupac Amaru Shakur.
More than a dozen prominent African American scholars will participate in a conference on the role of social media in cultural studies, April 6-7 at Duke University. The two-day conference, “Black Thought 2.0: New Media and the Future of Black Studies,” will be held at the John Hope Franklin Center and is free and open to the public.
African Voices Magazine is celebrating their 20th Anniversary on Friday, April 6th from 6:30-8 PM with a free event at the Kumble Theater at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus (DeKalb & Flatbush Aves).
The event, “Twenty Years of African Voices” will be an exciting retrospective celebrating the organization’s influence in art, literature, film, theater and dance. Launched as a literary arts magazine, African Voices is most noted for publishing the best poetry, fiction and art by emerging artists. The celebration will include featured performances by poets Ekere Tallie and Derick Cross; Voice Lessons, a one-act play written by acclaimed playwright Cesi Davidson and directed by Mary Hodges; and a preview from dance choreographer Germaul Barnes’ Black Buddha. RSVP here and call 718-488-1624 or 212-865-2982 for more information. While the event is free, donations are welcomed.
Paying homage to our ancestors is rooted in ancient traditions from Africa, where religions such as Yoruba and Lugbara called on those who came before us to help guide our path through our earthly existence. With the advent of the Internet and social media, people have been discovering ways to create digital time capsules and honoring our past. Dwayne Rodgers, a photographer and artist based in New York City has decided to draw on these traditions. This past Black History Month, he began The Black Vernacular, a communal ancestral shrine for people of African descent.
Award-winning poet Sonia Sanchez will be leading a master poetry workshop on Friday, April 13 from 6:30-8 PM. Ms. Sanchez will share important information on the craft of writing and insight on how to find the creative space to write. This workshop will focus on Haiku writing and will give writers a chance to participate in Ms. Sanchez’ international “Peace Is A Haiku Song” project – where writers from across the world will have a chance to submit their Haiku poems for an interactive public art for peace mural. Early Bird Registration is $45 and becomes $50 after March 28th. Use the code Writeon12 for a discounted price. Register here.
My dearest Chicago, you are the architect for the house that jack built, but did you have any idea that your music was fueling the rage and resistance against apartheid? Did you know that this electronic music created in your mama’s basement would become a part of the cultural fabric of one of the most historically complex places on earth? That house music is a part of the Mandelas’ (both Winnie and Nelson’s) cultural vocabulary?
Many a house head in the U.S. would like to believe we “discovered” house music in South Africa, when the truth is that house has had a home in South Africa long before we tuned in. Sort of like the pre-existing civilizations that Sertima suggested Came Before Columbus. But let’s be clear, it wasn’t that we didn’t care. We can use this moment in electronic music history to admit that not enough of us in the States received a reliable education about the contemporary cultural developments of Africa. And at the risk of sounding like an Intro to Afro-centric Studies course, we’ve learned a great deal about Africa through the lens of the white supremacists who sought the resources of Africa (both human and natural) to help institutionalize their superiority. But today, we need to know better.
As a grassroots organizer, there are many opportunities we can take advantage of in the digital world but sometimes it’s easy to get confused, lost or irritated. As someone who has navigated aspects of this world, I’ve found a few strategies for using media as a tool for community organizing. Here are my top 6 suggestions for cultivating awareness and engagement in the digital sphere.
Half of a Yellow Sun, a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has been the recent focus of movie execs and members of the Igbo community in Southern Nigeria. A petition, developed by Ashley Akunna, is protesting the casting of Thandie Newton as the film adaptation’s lead character. Newton is an acclaimed actress who has gained greater recognition in recent years for her roles in films such as Mission: Impossible II, The Pursuit of Happyness and Crash. She is of Zimbabwean descent and is set to play an Igbo woman caught in the thralls of the Biafran War, which ravaged a newly independent Nigeria from 1967 to 1970. The book has been heralded as a stunning depiction of the relationship between the Hausa and Igbo tribes during this period and received the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007.
On a recent, very brief trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, I was not surprised to experience the high quality of respect given to the memory of Bob Marley. Anything less would have been disappointing. However, as a lifetime follower of Marley, this trip highlighted a pattern much of the world is guilty of—pigeonholing Bob Marley as nothing more than a reggae artist and—thus losing sight of his revolutionary spirit.