The Problematic Project Of African-American Education?

This past Wednesday I attended a discussion entitled, “What is problematic about the project of African-American Education?” The Keynote speaker, Adam Green (Associate Professor of American History at the University of Chicago), raised important points surrounding how we discuss, practice, and envision African-American education. The talk was effective in illuminating the fact that we still have a distance to travel before we can say that African-American students are receiving the equal education Brown v. Board of Education sought after.

One point I’ve been pondering since the talk is his charge for us to be honest. This honesty unfolds into acknowledging the hyper segregated community, unstable home life, and stresses that young children may deal with before they enter a school building each day. Being aware and honest about the framing of young people’s minds by their environments is pivotal when trying to understand their experiences and aspirations. Green explicitly warned against being sensational in this attempt to be honest. The acknowledgment of hardship should at no point become a focal point or reinforced as an impossibility for young African-American students.

This charge to be honest is an important one in a society that borders on the omission or the sensationalism of issues attributed to the African-American community. My question is how do we as mentors, allies, and educators of young children strike a healthy balance between validating their experiences without dwelling on those ills they encounter outside the classroom? How can the spaces in which we interact with children serve as a safe haven for them to envision possibilities that exceed their realities?

VIDEO: Adele "Hometown Glory" LIVE

THIS IS YOUR BYP WAKE-UP CALL

Check out a phenomenal performance from Adele; 19‘s gorgeous “Hometown Glory” LIVE!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL49yZNE4yk

According to Spin Magazine, Adele recently underwent laser surgery on the injured vocal chords that forced her to cancel her remaining 2011 tour dates last month.

She is expected to make a full recovery!

From Spin.com:

There is no such thing as a "Hispanic Political Agenda"

Campaign season is in full swing and politicians are courting voters harder than R. Kelly at a middle school dance. Sorry, maybe that wasn’t  the best comparison. Both Republicans and Democrats are doggedly vying to woo an important voting bloc- Latinos. The Census Bureau—in its first nationwide demographic tally from the 2010 headcount—said Thursday the U.S. Hispanic population surged 43%, rising to 50.5 million in 2010 from 35.3 million in 2000. Latinos now constitute 16% of the nation’s total population of 308.7 million.The Census Bureau has estimated that the non-Hispanic white population would drop to 50.8% of the total population by 2040—then drop to 46.3% by 2050. These numbers have candidates tripping over themselves in attempt to seem passionate about “Hispanic issues”. This problematic language and campaign approach is the reason I believe elected officials continue to do a poor job serving communities of color. To paint the Latino community as monolithic is folly. The voting patterns, key issues, wants, and desires among Latinos are as varied as Mitt Romney’s views on health care.

What Happened in Connecticut

I was recently invited to perform at the University of Connecticut on November 4th as the principal performer for a “Political Awareness Rally”. About a week before the event I got an email from the organizer, who ironically I met at Occupy Wall St, saying people were concerned about my performance, particularly the song “Occupy (We the 99).”  I thought this was very strange because this is supposed to be an institution of higher learning that welcomes all types of ideas, plus the event was a rally for political awareness. The organizer said he would not censor me, but if I performed it I might not get paid. Then I received an email directly from the comptroller of the Undergraduate Student Government saying specifically I could not perform “Occupy (We the 99).”

(More) Sad Black Girls

Last week, this site featured a trailer for the documentary, Dear Daddy, about young black women who grew up without fathers. In these last few months, it seems to me that documentaries about black women and their relationships to men and their relationship to the standards and mores of larger society have been of interest to documentary filmmakers. There was Bill Duke’s Dark Girls, which I discussed previously; there’s also a new film, Black Girl in Suburbia, whose subject matter I’m sure you can infer from the title. (See each trailer at the bottom of this post.)

NICKI MINAJ and THE FREAKY BOIS: Raunch-Rap As A Weapon

Big Sean’s new video for “Dance (A$$) Remix” is….okay. But Nicki Minaj’s incredibly raunchy guest verse on “Dance (A$$) Remix” is waaaaay better than ok.

Check out the video (NSFW):

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn1VGytzXus

Minaj has perfected the art of what I’ll call raunch-rap. In a male-dominated genre, she owns her sexuality; declaring her sexual desires frankly and unapologetically, while mocking the public’s obsession with her body. Her performance is a stroke of subversive genius, and it immediately reminded me of YouTube sensations The Freaky Bois; two young gay rappers that spit the nastiest, sleaziest, freakiest raps you’ve ever heard.

Like Nicki, The Freaky Bois achieve more than just shock and awe with these songs. They’re wielding raunchy rap music like a weapon, forcing the listener to grapple with their sexual identities. You can either deal with it, or listen to something else. No compromises. No apologies.

And I love it.

Here’s just a sample of The Freaky Bois’ work (NSFW):

New Web Episode of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl: Simply Hilarious!!

httpv://youtu.be/miGmVCb9C4U

I have written previously on how much I love the web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. The show is original and features a young black woman who navigates her way through seen and unseen awkward situations on her job and in her relationships. Well, I am happy to report that the show is so popular that in a matter of a month, the creator, Issa Rae, and her cast mates where able to raise $44,000 dollars to continue the web series for another 5 weeks with a grand finale.

To read more about her inspirational fundraising story, please read below.

The Reason T-Pain Can Be Sexy; A Critique of Popular Aesthetics Part I

Celebrity, the representation and popularizing of a face, determine our aesthetics—models that our minds, in one sense, refer to when judging a person’s beauty. We can say that the drastic changes in whom and what we find attractive are inspired by the popular surveillance of a specific body.  Upon seeing a face manifest through a television source, a face that overcomes exclusive requirements to be there, a viewer can sufficiently convert their jealousy into praise. Without a doubt, we viewers further a history of valorizing particular persons for their “transcendence” of being average, and in effect view the box-glaring body with lust. I would have no problem with this fanaticism if the value of the person were substantial, yet the appeal of celebrities often comes from the pity we feel for ourselves; for not making it past the bouncer of popular media.

Rethink

I have heard a lot in the media about the Arab Spring being called the “Facebook and Twitter revolutions.” I see this as great in terms of people taking control of technology and using it to create the change they want to see.

However I have a slight beef with Facebook, or rather, Facebook users. The willingness to give up so much private information is a little scary to me. Now I am also a Facebook user so I am critiquing myself as much as anybody, but didn’t people fight for the right to privacy in this country? Why is our generation so eager to share all of our personal data with a corporation like Facebook, who then makes it accessible to other corporations so that they can bombard us with targeted advertisements?

Facebook exploits the human need for social connection, and turns three-dimensional people into two-dimensional consumers.