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?
Dr. Robin J. Hayes, director of the award-winning documentary Black and Cuba will be on New York City’s WBAI today Tuesday April 14 at 2pm EST to discuss the film and “Feeling a Foreigner” on the Artsy Fartsy Show. Listen live or download here.
The award-winning documentary Black and Cuba is now available for streaming. The film follows street smart students who are outcast at their elite university, band together and adventure to Cuba, whose population is 60% Black. Black and Cuba’s release comes on the heels of President Obama’s announcement that the US will thaw relations with Cuba and ease travel restrictions to the island. See the film and see Cuba for yourself. This weekend only, the filmmakers are offering a limited number of 10% discounts to subscribers in order to express their gratitude for your support. Go to Vimeo on Demand and use the promo code SHAKUR15.
Today, too few of us will make our voices heard at ballot boxes throughout the United States. The representatives chosen to speak and decide for us at local, state and national levels in these mid-term elections will have a great deal of power over many of the things that matter to us most: such as how our children are educated, whether we feel safe with police officers in the street, the conditions in which we work, and how much we are compensated for our work. Voting is an important way we can use our power, but too many of us have been falsely convinced that we do not have any power at all. (Click here to find out about the voter identification laws in your state).
When I saw the epic fashion photo spread featuring Rihanna, Iman and Naomi Campbell in W magazine, I immediately connected the gold earrings by French luxury fashion house Balmain (pictured above, $850) and the bamboo earrings I coveted at Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall when I was growing up.
Happy Black August!
AFROPUNK and Progressive Pupil are co-curating Activism Row: an interactive, inspirational and informative experience to be featured at AFROPUNK Fest 2014 (August 23 and 24 at Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn). Activism Row’s goals are to facilitate voter registration, inform youth about civic participation opportunities and to encourage the festival’s multicultural audience to envision themselves making a difference. Highlighting social justice as a work of art, Activism Row shows activism lives today in communities of color.
Today, Activism Row launched an Indigegogo campaign to raise funds for the costs associated with producing the festival, which include staff, signage and programs. You can support this effort by making a tax-deductible contribution and sharing the link (http://igg.me/at/AFROPUNKActivismRow14) with your friends, family and colleagues. Rock star perks are available for your generosity including VIP passes to the festival, which features D’Angelo and Meshell Ndegeocello, a chance to get on stage and more.
Activism Row features local non-profits that advance racial equality by solving urgent community problems such as violence, mass incarceration and HIV/AIDS. In addition, voter registration will be available. On-line and in person, Activism Row will provide AFROPUNK’s audience—who are predominately youth—the empowering opportunity to see themselves as agents of social change. By showing #ActivismLives, this exciting exhibition reveals that the best time for social change is NOW!
I hope to see you later this month at AFROPUNK FEST. If you have suggestions for organizations that should participate in Activism Row, please share at facebook.com/ProgressivePupil.
Robin J. Hayes, PhD
Happy July! I hope this July 4th will find you safe, affirmed and celebrating your independence. This month at Progressive Pupil, we celebrate struggles for self-determination in Black communities throughout the world.
If you are reading this on The Progress: a Progressive Pupil blog, chances are you have had the opportunity to make some constructive choices about how to see yourself and your community. You have also probably had access to some positive role models either in person or through books and film. These kinds of life chances are essential to exercising independence and autonomy. Although in theory we may have compassion for members of our communities who have not had similarly constructive chances, in practice on social media it can be hard to resist the opportunity to put down people – especially extremely visible people like Nicki Minaj – who have not. (You can click photo above for her acceptance speech).
Happy May Day! With the revelation of LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s White supremacist comments, the Supreme Court’s decision to undermine affirmative action and the struggle of NCAA players at Northwestern to exercise their freedom to organize, this is a great day to honor laborers everywhere. This month at The Progress, we are also celebrating Afro-Asian Solidarity Month.
“How do you get students to accept help?” a teacher asked me.
She was one of a diverse group of dedicated, intelligent young educators who help high school students from smaller income neighborhoods attend college. During our recent conversation, it was mentioned that some of their most hard-working and focused students arrive at a university, confront challenges with course work and then—heartbreakingly—refuse to seek or take advantage of help that is available.
They are so determined to do it on their own, her colleague explained, “because they want to help their families.” These educators’ compassionate concerns and the heavy burden their students are carrying stayed with me. When a teacher asked me, “How did you manage to get the help you needed?” I realized that during my entire career as an African American, working-class, queer woman student (Pre-K through PhD) I never did.