It's Gonna Be Alright Palante Siempre Palante

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This time of year I tend to congratulate myself about what I have managed to accomplish during the summer and soothe myself with gelato about the things on my to-do list that will have to be pushed back into Fall.  All of us who are doing important work – either as educators, artists, activists, students or volunteers – have more passion than money — more good ideas than time to execute them.  What’s the best way to surrender to this reality dishonoring our spirit?

At the Progressive Pupil office this summer, we’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright” on repeat.  This song, which has become the unofficial theme of #BlacklLivesMatter, is an affirmation that has long been passed down from grandmother to grandchild in African American communities.  In spite of all the challenges we who believe in freedom face, and the dark truths that must be confronted in doing this work with integrity, it’s gonna be alright.

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#BlackLivesMatter and Cuba

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Members of the Venceremos Brigade raising fists before completing the travel challenge.
Members of the Venceremos Brigade raising fists before completing the travel challenge.

“Venceremos, my favorite word in Spanish, crossed my mind. Ten million people had stood up to the monster. Ten million people only ninety miles away. We were here together in their land, my small little family, holding each other after so long. There was no doubt about it, our people would one day be free. The cowboys and bandits didn’t own the world.” – Assata Shakur

In July a group of Black Lives Matter activists visited Cuba with the 46th Contingent of the Venceremos Brigade. Included in this group was Progressive Pupil’s own, Shannon Shird, Outreach Director for Black and Cuba and former Community Outreach Specialist in our New Leaders for Social Change Program, Anita Moore, Chapter Coordinator and Community Organizer with Black Lives Matter, and Amity Paye, the BYP100 NYC Communications Co-chair.

Check out this illuminating feature reflecting lessons they learned in Cuba around race, class and gender and how to leverage that wisdom for our growing Movement for Black Lives nationally and internationally.  Read the full feature on the blogs of BYP100 and Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

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Watch Lee Daniels’ The Butler

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TEACHERS: Will you be educating your students on The Civil Rights Movement or on racism this fall? Do you need fresh discussion topics, readings, assignments, etc.? Look no further than Black and Cuba’s complete syllabus guide!

Watch Lee Daniels’ The Butler and then watch the award winning documentary Black and Cuba. The Butler “tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family.” Watching both of these films will create a deeper appreciation  of the progress made on civil rights as well as a greater understanding on the parallels of racism in the United States and Cuba.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Black and Cuba go hand in hand as vital sources for your course. Find even more lesson plans in our complete syllabus guide today!

http://blackandcuba.tumblr.com/CollegesandUniversities

http://blackandcuba.tumblr.com/watchnow

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Andrea Smith, Rachel Dolezal and Reading Realness

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(from l. to r.) Rachel Dolezal, Dorian Corey and Andrea Smith
(from l. to r.) Rachel Dolezal, Dorian Corey and Andrea Smith

I am, in the words of Black twitter, #ActualBlack.  I say this not to endorse “identity policing” but to point out:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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?

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All the World's Futures

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From Urban Requiem, 2015 by Barthélémy Tuguo Cameroon at the Venice Biennale

Saluti dall’Italia! Greetings from Italy!

I hope you’ll join me in congratulating two new alumni of the New Leaders for Social Change program—Xiomara Pedraza and Justyn Richardson—who both earned their Master’s degrees in Urban Policy from The New School last week. During their time with Progressive Pupil, Xiomara and Justyn have blossomed from exceptionally intelligent and dedicated youth to experienced resourceful professionals. Although their time in our office has ended, their careers as social justice advocates are just commencing.  I look forward to the impactful things they will accomplish in their work as social justice advocates.

I am currently attending the 2nd NYU Black Portraitures Conference in Florence—convened by Henry Louis Gates, Thelma Golden, Deborah Willis, and Cheryl Finley among others—which focuses on “imaging the Black body” and “re-staging history.”  Given these themes, it is especially fitting that I will be giving a presentation about portraits of Black radicalism in Black and Cuba this Sunday.

Making Black studies for everybody requires creating fresh, empowering images of not only Black bodies, but of Black life and history.  It also requires re-staging history so that it can be seen from the perspective of communities who have struggled to be seen as human and heard as citizens.

Earlier this week I was fortunate to see the “All the Worlds Futures” exhibition at the Venice Biennale.   This year is the first time in history an African artist—Okwui Enwezor—has curated the exhibition and that 25% of the artists exhibiting have been Black.  The diverse, explicitly political work on display revealed that there is a global and vocal chorus of artists, activists, teachers, and allies who have a clear vision of the world’s futures—which include an end to exploitation and marginalization for everyone. I’ve posted some highlights of the exhibition, including work by Jason Moran, on my instagram @robinjhayes.

Yours in Solidarity and Ciao,

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Robin J. Hayes

Principal Organizer, Progressive Pupil

Director, Black and Cuba [Available on Vimeo on Demand and DVD]

The Color of Gods & Kings

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Contrary to popular belief, we’re not far from the days of Blackface, Yellowface, Brownface and Redface in Hollywood. We’ve moved on though–in a different way. Moved away from the blatantly offensive practice of soaking white actors in makeup to portray offensive stereotypes, to the casting of white actors for roles that would be perfectly suited for people of color, or roles that certainly call for a person of color as a performer. Whitewashing is all the rage.
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Are Asians the New White?

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Wikipedia defines the Model Minority Myth (MMM):
refers to a minority group (whether ethnic, racial, or religious) in certain countries whose members are most often perceived to achieve a higher degree of success than the population average. This success is typically measured in income, education, and related factors such as low crime rate and high family stability.”

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Glossary: Asian Solidarity, an Invisible Race?

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“Here is what I sometimes suspect my face signifies to other Americans: an invisible person, barely distinguishable from a mass of faces that resemble it. A conspicuous person standing apart from the crowd and yet devoid of any individuality. An icon of so much that the culture pretends to honor but that it in fact patronizes and exploits…a mass of stifled, repressed, abused, conformist quasi-robots who simply do not matter, socially or culturally…” Wesley Lang
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