“Like Muhammad Ali puts it, we are all—black and brown and poor—victims of the same system of oppression.” – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali! Mainstream media continues to revere him for his extraordinary achievements as an athlete and his influential oratory style (How many of us have alleged to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”?). However, Ali is beloved to the progressive community and the African diaspora for his candid criticism of racial discrimination and poverty as well as his refusal to be inducted in the US Army during the Vietnam War due to his religious beliefs. Ali could have exercised his class privilege, entered the army and fought entertaining exhibition bouts without ever being in any physical danger. Instead, he chose to take a principled stand which in the short run cost him millions of dollars and some of his peak years as a boxing champion. In the long run, Ali’s example made him a legend.
To learn more about Muhammad Ali, see the Academy Award-winning film When we Were Kings, or read this Dave Zirin article in The Nation.
Today Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook co-founded the Dance Theater of Harlem in 1969 to bring ballet and its allied arts to Mitchell’s beloved community. The Dance Theater of Harlem continues to educate young people and diversify the art form of dance.
January 1, 1804 the Haitian revolution succeeds. To learn more about Haitian history, Progressive Pupil suggests The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James and The Uses of Haiti by Paul Farmer. What are some of the biggest misconceptions we have about Haiti today?
On January 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation making slavery illegal in the US. Soon afterwards, newspapers such as the Southwestern Christian Advocate in New Orleans were flooded with letters and advertisements by freedmen searching for their mothers, children, and spouses who had been sold or disappeared, or who had fled the brutality of plantation owners. These letters reveal no one ever adjusted to slavery. And the trauma the experience caused endured long after Lincoln’s decree. How does slavery continue to impact African American families today?
Happy New Year!! In this episode from Season 1 of Breaking Down Racism, Sudanese rapper Oddisee, Afro-Dominican singer Fanesha Fabre, Ethiopian journalist Hanna Giorgies and others discuss the diversity of the Black community and the meaning of diaspora today.
Written by: Regine Nehy
Produced by: Regine Nehy and Ladin Awad
Executive Producer: Robin J. Hayes, PhD
Directed by: Tsige Tafesse and Sequana Williams
Edited by: Ladin Awad
Breaking Down Racism is brought to you by Progressive Pupil, which “makes Black studies for everybody.” The series was created by Robin J. Hayes, PhD.
I am, in the words of Black twitter, #ActualBlack. I say this not to endorse “identity policing” but to point out:
I have parents, grandparents and great grandparents who were forced to cope with the following forms of White supremacy (in chronological order): the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, lynching, segregation, mass incarceration, and microaggressions.
My body, skin, hair, voice, accent (or lack of accent), sashay, and personal aesthetics are to some degree disturbing in all public and private institutions (except for prisons and the morgue).
I did not sign up for this club, but I am proud to be a member.
In all seriousness, I have been thinking a lot about the question: Why has the outing of Rachel Dolezal and Andrea Smith as White – allegedly – caused such a sensation?
It evokes a lot: things old, things new- all things different- and not just sexually. I’m not sure of my first encounter with the word Queer, but I certainly remember my first impressionable moment with the word, it lingers in crevices I’m still trying to clear out today. (more…)
Progressive Pupil released all season 1 episodes of its first podcast series Breaking Down Racism on Soundcloud. With topics ranging from “What is White Liberal Guilt?” to “Am I Black or African American?,” these upbeat podcasts provide accessible information related to everyday experiences of race. Each episode answers a frequently asked question about race with the help of commentary from today’s grassroots activists in addition to rarely heard speeches and interviews by inspiring historical leaders. The series is hosted by Black studies professor, human rights advocate and filmmaker Dr. Robin J. Hayes. It is brought to you by Progressive Pupil, a nonprofit that makes “Black Studies for Everybody” by creating documentary films and interactive media.
Comment below or while streaming the series on Soundcloud with your feedback and requests for future topics. Follow Breaking Down Racism for updates on Season 2.
Black and Cuba director Robin J. Hayes discusses “Socially Engaged Art as a Tool for Social Justice” at UnionDocs Socially Engaged Documentary Art Seminar Sunday June 21, 2015 10:30am 322 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211. For filmmakers, artists and cultural producers, the seminar offers vital information about the theory and practice of documentary making with a purpose. Tell them Progressive Pupil sent you and get 20% off conference registration with promocode SEDA15. Learn more at http://www.uniondocs.org/socially-engaged-documentary-art/. Share with a friend who wants to make films for their communities.