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.
The February 26th killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has rightfully sparked outrage in communities around the country. The heartbreaking situation Trayvon found himself in is one many black men can relate to, and the details surrounding the events have shed light on ongoing racial injustice in the United States. In a powerful and moving piece in the New York Times, columnist Charles M. Blow says:
As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.
You can read the entire text of “The Mis-Education of the Negro” here.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1915, will have its annual convention in Pittsburgh in September. This year’s Black History theme is Black Women in American Culture and History. We encourage you to make black history all year long by supporting local institutions and grassroots organizations.
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.
Robin explains that yes, Black History Month is more than a month. But February is a great opportunity to support grassroots organizations and local institutions. She encourages you to enjoy yourself and Black History “The House Down”. For more information on Carter G. Woodson and the legacy of Black History Month, check out the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
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.
Black History Month is in full swing and we have been enjoying all that New York City has to offer. If you haven’t had the chance to check out some BHM events around the city, it’s not too late. Here are some of the events we recommend (whole calendar after the jump). All events are free unless otherwise noted. If you know of any events to add, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“French and Francophone Cinemas in Dialogue” Roundtable discussion with Philip Watts, Madeleine Dobie, Hamid Dabashi, Francoise Pfaff and Sophie Saint-Just. Wednesday, February 14th. 5-7 PM. Columbia University, Morningside Campus World Room, Journalism, Room 305.
“Female Leadership in Slavery and Freedom” Gallery Talk. Thursday, February 16th. Noon. The African Burial Ground National Monument Visitor Center, 290 Broadway (near Foley Square, north of City Hall). 1st Floor. Call 212.637.2019 for reservations.
“The Indelible Influence of Malcolm X” Hear Esther Armah, Ishmael Beah, Kathleen Cleaver, Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Kahlil Gibran Muhammad, Darryl Pinckney, Meg Ventrudo and Salim Washington read from Malcolm X’s memorable speeches and writings. Tuesday, February 21st. 7-8:30 PM. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Boulevard). Langston Hughes Auditorium. Register here.
While I was in New Orleans bicycling around the 6th and 7th Wards earlier this month, I passed by a tiny vintage house in Robin’s egg blue with a proudly displayed sign: The New Orleans African American Museum. I was reminded there that 2012 is an important milestone in the African diaspora’s history. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress, the social movement organization that helped eradicate apartheid. It is also the 200th anniversary of the founding of Tremé, the first free black neighborhood in the United States that is slowly rebuilding itself, although it has been abandoned by our federal government ever since the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In so many of the classes I teach, students start the semester with a strong sense that racism is unjust and an equally resilient lack of confidence that racism can and must end in our lifetime. My friends, many of whom are very dedicated scholars, artists and organizers have the same—not cynicism—resignation. Walking around the 9th Ward, where there is an abundance of grassy lots and rippling tarps instead of families and neighbors, I felt similarly dispirited. I thought the people who had come back to the 9th were very brave. They worked in coalitions to reconstruct a few beautiful brightly colored houses that stood up from the grass against the power that tried to let them drown.