Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Kuumba-Kwanzaa Day 6

Habari Gani Good People?! What’s the good news?

Today we celebrate my second favorite principle Kuumba (Creativity), “to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.” The principle has both a social and spiritual dimension and is deeply rooted in social and sacred teachings of African societies.

Having creativity requires a few things – motivation and inspiration! What I can definitely say with pride is my people practically ooze creativity, just look at social media, in the classrooms, on television…everyday all day!! The creative minds of Black folks have birthed ground-breaking inventions, culture-shaping entertainment and fashion and new ways of healing and uplifting the community.

Some ways to practice Kuumba, include taking part in a musical Kwanzaa celebration, painting a mural, starting a garden in your neighborhood, building a new app. Just know that you can create something new, whether it be a piece of art or simply a new idea.

On this day, it is also customary to host a large feast called Karamu, which can be held at home, a community center or a church. The menu usually features foods and ingredients native to the African continent such as yams, okra, tamarind, peanuts, collard greens and hibiscus.

Photo by Askar Abayev on Pexels.com

Think about this for a moment…What creative skills do you have that can help build your community? Maybe it’s something you do with your hands, maybe it’s writing a proposal, managing the books as an accountant or leading a team.

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., On the Desk...

Reflecting on 2022…Lessons Learned…You Ready for 2023?!!

It’s the last day of 2022, we are almost there folks!! So the pandemic is still real, but somehow we are managing it. Let’s just say this was another unforgettable year!!

Definitely had some moments that shook the nation with such things as abortion no longer being a constitutional right, the ongoing war in Ukraine, the tragedy in Uvalde (TX), banned books, the retirement of a tennis legend Serena Williams, we got the slap of the century when Will Smith cold clocked slapped Chris Rock, and jaw-dropping seasons of Euphoria and Bridgerton.

In sports news, Argentina wins the World Cup, the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl (along with an AMAZING halftime show-Hip Hop and R&B reigning supreme), the Houston Astros win their second World Series title…then you got the suspension of Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka (and his split from Nia Long), Tom Brady retired…back in the game and then divorced, Brittney Griner is released from a Russia prison and returns home to the U.S….and one of my fave moments the Golden State Warriors reclaimed the NBA Title throne!!

Lena Horne became the first Black woman to have a Broadway theater named after her…Two Literary Pioneers were honored with USPS stamps, Toni Morrison and Ernest J. Gaines!

In politics, for the first time in history the four largest U.S. cities New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston will all have Black mayors after this year’s midterm elections…Karen Bass sealed the deal with her historic win! And THANK GOD Georgia did not elect Herschel Walker into the U.S. Senate, we can all breathe a sigh of relief!

The elements are still having their way whether its the frigid winter storm in Buffalo, Hurricane Ian and Fiona, and heat waves coming in July, August and October!!

The Little Mermaid teaser trailer…Just wow!! I’m so ready!!…Also, definitely gotta shout out some good friends for putting me on to Billions and Yellowstone, talk about some good tv!!

Speaking of good tv let me just drop a few more nuggets:

  • Riches (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Reasonable Doubt (Hulu)
  • Abbott Elementary (ABC)
  • Blood & Water (Netflix)
  • Dahmer: Monster-The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Netflix)
  • Wednesday (Netflix)
  • P-Valley (STARZ)
  • Raising Kanan: Power Book III (STARZ)
  • Final season of OWN Network Queen Sugar and FX Atlanta
  • Cherish the Day (OWN)
  • The Bear (Hulu)

Let’s Go To The Movies… I was so glad that the theaters have opened back up again, feels good to sit back and relax at my local AMC!!

  • The Woman King: Finally these stories are being told!!
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once: Brilliant movie that definitely did not get the pub it should have…such a good movie!!
  • Top Gun: Maverick: Now that was a fun ride!!
  • Descendant (Netflix): Gotta love history, especially when they speak the truth!
  • Confess, Fletch: Pure laughs!!
  • Bullet Train: Who knew you could enjoy a movie that is set on a bullet train…
  • Nope: Layered and complex!!
  • Prey (Hulu definitely knows how to drop those gems!!)
  • Devotion: A piece of history that I didn’t know about but glad I do now!
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: Not a dry eye!! Ryan Coogler & Ruth E. Carter you did it again!! Angela Bassett proved once again why she is that one!!

Remembering those we lost in 2022…Folks that definitely made some sort of impact on my 41 years of life!!

Photo by Aidan Nguyen on Pexels.com
  • Sidney Poitier (January 6th): The epitome of elegance and stage presence!
  • Lani Guinier (January 7th)
  • Bob Saget (January 9th)
  • André Leon Talley (January 18th)
  • Charles McGee (January 23rd): One of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen!
  • Cheslie Kyrst (January 30th): Mental Health is real!!
  • Ivan Reitman (February 13th): Ghostbusters!!
  • Johnny Brown (March 2nd): Ohhhhh “Good Times”
  • Traci Braxton (March 12th)
  • William Hurt (March 13th)
  • Madeleine Albright (March 23rd)
  • Gilbert Gottfried (April 12th)
  • DJ Kay Slay (April 18th): Ahhhh takes me back to my undergrad days
  • Naomi Judd (April 30th)
  • Bob Lanier (May 10th)
  • Ray Liotta (May 26th)
  • Sam Gilliam (June 25th)
  • Paul Sorvino (July 25th)
  • Nichelle Nichols (July 30th): SO Grateful and Thankful for the barriers she broke and the history made!
  • Bill Russell (July 31st): A legend in every sense of the word!!
  • Roger E. Mosely (August 7th): I will always remember those days of watching Magnum, P.I. (the original)
  • Olivia Newton-John (August 8th): Such a sweet soul taken from this earth!
  • Hanae Mori (August 11th): Haute Couture at its finest!!
  • Denise Dowse (August 13th)
  • Mikhail Gorbachev (August 30th)
  • Queen Elizabeth II (September 8th)
  • Ramsey Lewis (September 12th)
  • Pharoah Sanders (September 24th)
  • Coolio (September 28th): One more “Fantastic Voyage”
  • Charles Fuller (October 3rd)
  • Loretta Lynn (October 4th)
  • Angela Lansbury (October 11th): Murder Mysteries will never be the same!!
  • Leslie Jordan (October 24th)
  • Rev. Calvin O. Butts III (October 28th)
  • Takeoff (November 1st)
  • John Aniston (November 14th): Soap opera’s will never be the same!
  • Irene Cara (November 26th): I just wanna dance forever!!
  • Dorothy Pitman Hughes (December 1st): Co-founder of the prominent feminist publication Ms. Magazine
  • Kirstie Alley (December 5th)
  • Paul Silas (December 11th)
  • Stephen “tWitch” Boss (December 14th)
  • Franco Harris (December 21st): There will never be another “Immaculate Reception” … One for the books!!
  • Pelé and Vivienne Westwood (December 29th)
  • Barbara Walters (December 30th)
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (December 31st): The longest-living pope, having surpassed Pope Leo XIII in September 2020, known as “God’s Rottweiler”.

Beyoncé gave us her 7th studio album, Renaissance...Afrobeats continues to rise and I’m here for all of it! Usher’s Las Vegas show makes huge waves…Ari Lennox brought us Age/Sex/Location…And another bomb soundtrack from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever!!

The housing market was a win for sellers, but it looks like that is taking turn back for buyers (I hope so, cause your girls will definitely be looking in 2023). Twitter was bought by Elon Musk…We witnessed our first Black woman Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (RBG is definitely smiling)…and soooooo much more!!

For me 2022, was all about roller coaster rides of life. I had many valley lows and just as many high moments. Sold my house in ATL (the end of an era)…I dealt with with anxiety, some depression, some trauma, and deep loss. Losing my Uncle Oscar hit me deep in my core! And if I am being honest, I am still grieving and probably will for some time. He meant so much to me, he will never be forgotten. There is not a day that doesn’t go by where I just want to shoot him a ring and ask for him to pray with and for me. But when it is all said and done I know he is watching over me, smiling, and having a good laugh with my Grandma!! I definitely got a chance to travel and collect some more passport stamps. I went to New Mexico for the first time, tried real Belgium waffles IN Belgium (Twice)!! Presented at Wonder-Con (Anaheim, CA), gave a keynote lecture at Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium). Got to celebrate Black History Month twice once in the US and in London!! Went to the Roots Picnic in Philly…Celebrated many of my friends 40th Birthday’s….that was fun!

Even got me a new ride…a Christmas gift to myself!!

This year I got to spend a lot of time on several beaches and oh was that therapeutic (Thank you Turks and Caicos and Playa del Carmen)…Lord knows I love the water!!

…It was good to be back in the classroom for another semester with some AMAZING students!! I am truly grateful to have this job/career. I look forward to completing 2023 as I will (I’m claiming) get through my Third-Year Review and become another step closer towards Tenure!! Oh and I got boosted again! I launched a new project, Black Girl Magic in Media (BGMM) and let me tell you I am very excited about what is in store! Be on the lookout for what is in store!

I continue to learn more about myself…grow…find balance…navigate all the moving parts of my life…and taking one day at a time!

Let me just say I am also very thankful for my BFF family and friends!! I look forward to bringing you more good news and culture in 2023!!

~Dr. G

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Nia-Kwanzaa Day 5

Habari Gani?!! What’s today’s good news?

Today, we celebrate one of my favorite principals of Kwanzaa….Nia (Purpose). Through Nia, the principal seeks “to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”

Examine your ability to put your own skills and talent to use through service to your family and community at large. When we take time to reflect on our expectations from life, we can take the opportunity to discuss one’s desires and hopes with family and friends. On today, try to determine your purpose and how it will result in positive achievements for family and community.

In thinking about how you can reflect on Nia, consider these few practices:

  • Reflect on finding your purpose in life outside of your career
  • Add some books and movies that educate you about your ancestry and your history
  • Set short term and long term goals that will set you and your community on a path towards a more intentional and purpose-driven life.

What’s your purpose in life for today and in the future?

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Ujamaa-Kwanzaa Day 4

Habari Gani?! What’s the good news today?

On this day we celebrate Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics),to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. As noted on the official Kwanzaa website, Ujamaa embodies shared work and wealth, economic self-reliance, and obligation of generosity. Karenga notes, “To share wealth and work, then, is to share concern, care and responsibility for a new, more human and fulfilling future”.

Historically, Ujamaa was introduced as a socialist philosophy in Tanzania by its first president Julius Nyerere. Nyerere used “Ujamaa” as a revolutionary concept in the development of a national infrastructure centered on communal values. Everything from Black Wall Street to McKissack & McKissack to The Philadelphia Tribune to The National Business League proves that African-Americans have been resisting in the spirit of Ujamaa for centuries.

It’s about working together, making a change, and creating legacies!!

In that spirit, here are a few ways in which you can practice Ujamaa:

  • Organize a buying club in your neighborhood, housing co-op or apartment building.  Items such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, socks, sanitizing wipes, water, and a variety of non-perishable goods can be purchased in bulk and the cost shared so that everyone gets these items cheaper than what they would pay buying them retail.
  • Support black and local and independent small businesses or businesspersons, cooperatives, artists, practitioners and others who are community- and environmentally-minded. 
  • Join a city and/or community garden in your local neighborhood
  • Shop at your local farmers’ markets (National Farmers Market Directory)
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

As each of our families celebrate Kwanzaa and richness of African-American culture this year and every year, let us all find inspiration in the principle of Ujamaa in the development of a new global economy built through communal values and cooperatives.

Harambee!!  Let’s all work together!!

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!

Habari Gani?! Ujima-Kwanzaa Day 3

Habari Gani!! What’s the news today?! Ujima!!

On Day 3 of Kwanzaa we celebrate Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)!! This means “to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.”

Today we recognize the fact that without collective work and struggle, progress is impossible and liberation is a far distant memory. This is when we must truly embody the idea of “it takes a village.”

On this day, I think about the impact of those that we lost this year who made such a great impact on our local, national, and global communities. Their commitments and efforts to the cause will never be forgotten. One can only hope that we continue to be inspired to follow in their footsteps and build on their legacies!

When thinking about how you can celebrate Ujima today, consider teaming up with members of your neighborhood to help renovate a community center, offering to shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk, or even just helping out around the house more often.

And as a way of sharing with my community, here is an event for all my native Richmond folks this coming Friday celebrating Kwanzaa!

Capital City Kwanzaa Festival

December 30th, 2022…. 5-10pm….Greater Richmond Convention Center

Celebrate the season with Elegba Folklore Society and the creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga, at one of the largest annual Kwanzaa events on the East Coast! Come to enjoy a cultural ceremony, performances, workshops, engagement for children, and an African market. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Dr. G’s “Top 22” Books of 2022

Keeping up with my tradition from 2020 and 2021 I have compiled my ‘Top 22’ books from this year!! I feel like I always have an endless supply of books, you can never have too many! Plus I love seeing my library grow!!

This year I added a few graphic novels that caught my attention during one of my many travels this year!!

All in all, I love sharing some of my top reading faves!! As I always say, ‘sharing is caring.’

So in no particular order, here is my Top 22 List of Books for 2022!!

  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever the Courage to Dream ~Frederick Joseph
  • The Keeper ~Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes
  • Take My Hand ~Dolen Perkins-Valdez
  • Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough ~Candice Marie Benbow
  • The Silent Twins ~Marjorie Wallace
  • The Light We Carry ~Michelle Obama
  • Black Disability Politics ~Sami Schalk
  • Riding Jane Crow:African American Women on the American Railroad ~Miriam Thaggert
  • Finding Me ~Viola Davis
  • Walking in My Joy In These Streets ~Jenifer Lewis
  • Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner’s Community ~Vanessa M. Holden
  • Tuskegee Ghost ~Benjamin Von Eckartsberg
  • I Rise ~Marie Arnold
  • Black Cake ~Charmaine Wilkerson
  • Memphis ~Tara M. Stringfellow
  • Pet ~Akwaeke Emezi
  • Trust ~Daines L. Reed
  • The Final Revival of Opal & Nev ~Dawnie Walton
  • The Sweetness of Water ~Nathan Harris
  • Don’t Cry For Me ~Daniel Black
  • The ABCs of Black History ~Rio Cortez
  • We Travel the Spaceways ~Victor LaValle
Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!, Resources

Habari Gani?!! Kujichagulia-Kwanzaa Day 2

Habari Gani!! What’s the news today?!

We have come to another day of Kwanzaa…The second principle of the Nguzo Saba is Kujichagulia which means Self-Determination!! To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.”

“In a time in which occupation and oppression of countries and peoples are immorally presented as necessary and even salvational, the principle of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) rejects this and reaffirms the right of persons and peoples to determine their own destiny and daily lives; to live in peace and security; and to flourish in freedom everywhere.”-Dr. Maulana Karenga

Consider these three questions as you embody Kujichaguilia:

1.  Who am I?
2.  Am I really who I say I am?
3.  Am I all that I ought to be?

Have a conversation (with yourself, or with another person) about what truths you want to live into in this coming year. In addition, check out this video reflection from Dr. David Goode-Cross, as he shares the importance of making life decisions from a place of being grounded in our most authentic selves.

Once you begin to process and internalize the above questions/thoughts consider these few actions that you can do to celebrate Kujichaguilia:

  • Make the celebration focus on your family
  • Make the celebration festive and joyous
  • Try to have a special meal- at home or away

What I like about Kujichagulia is that it also has a personal meaning. As you reflect over this past year, can you identify ways that your self-determination paid off? How did you take more control over your life?

Remember to practice Self-Determination!!

Posted in New Trailer Alerts!!, On the Desk..., On The Radar

Weekly Trailer Alerts!!

It’s the last set of trailers for 2022!! So let’s go out with a bang!! Check them out below:

Kaleidoscope (Streaming on Netflix January 1, 2023)

Season 3-Godfather of Harlem (Streaming on EPIX January 15, 2023)

Season 2-Mayor of Kingstown (Streaming on Paramount+ January 15, 2023)

Magic Mike’s Last Dance (In theaters February 10, 2023)

Book Club: The Next Chapter (In theaters May 14, 2023)

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (In theaters June 2023)

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (In theaters June 30th, 2023)

Oppenheimer (In theaters July 21st, 2023)

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Holiday Celebration!!, Resources

Habari Gani?!! It’s Kwanzaa Time!!

Habari Gani!! It’s that time of year again, a time to celebrate an annual tradition of family, community, and culture!! So you ask what time is it…It’s Kwanzaa Time (December 26-January 1)!!

Check out a little taste here in the documentary on Kwanzaa called “The Black Candle” (narrated by world renowned poet Maya Angelou and directed by award-winning author and filmmaker MK Asante):

You can watch the entire film here!!

During this holiday, families and communities “organize activities around the Nguzo Saba” (The Seven Principles):

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

In addition to the seven principles there are a total of nine symbols (in Swahili and English) that make up Kwanzaa:

  • Mazao (The Crops): These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
  • Mkeka (The Mat): This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
  • Kinara (The Candle Holder): This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Africans.
  • Muhindi (The Corn): This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
  • Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup): This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.
  • Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles): These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
  • Zawadi (The Gifts): These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.
  • Bendera (The Flag): The colors of the Kwanzaa flag are colors of the Organization Us, black, red and green – black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future that comes from their struggle. The Bendera is based on the national flag given to us by the Hon. Marcus Garvey, with slight adjustments in order and interpretation of the colors made in the 1960s along with many African countries.
  • Nguzo Saba Poster: The Nguzo Saba poster or some form of the written Nguzo Saba should always be a part of the Kwanzaa set. For it is these Seven Principles which give Kwanzaa its core and seven days of cultural focus.

Each symbol “represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement.

This year’s theme is “Kwanzaa, Culture and the Practice of Freedom: A Message and Model For Our Times”!

During this Kwanzaa celebration I will share a little knowledge on each principle and what you can do to take part in this welcoming tradition!! So make sure you stay tuned!!

Today’s principle is UMOJA which means UNITY!! What are you doing today to strive and maintain unity in our families, communities, nations, and the world!! #UMOJA #Celebration #Affirmation

How you can embody UMOJA today is by being kind to your sisters and brothers in order to help keep your family and community strong and happy.

Ahhhh another one of my favorite times of the year!!

For more information check out the following links:

https://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/

https://nmaahc.si.edu/kwanzaa

Posted in Uncategorized

Dr. G’s Monthly Book Recommendations- Holiday Edition/December 2022

Happy Holidays!! As we close out another year, I have one more list of recommendations to close out!! This month’s list is split with a little holiday flair!

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Check out December’s list below:

  • A Coastline is an Immeasurable Thing ~Mary-Alice Daniel
  • On Rotation ~Shirlene Obuobi
  • Black on Black: On our Resilience and Brilliance in America ~Daniel Black
  • The Sugar Jar: Create Boundaries, Embrace Self-Healing, and Enjoy the Sweet Things in Life ~Yasmine Cheyenne
  • Shot Clock ~Caron Butler & Justin A. Reynolds
  • An American Story ~Kwame Alexander
  • I’m Dreaming of Brown Christmas ~Steve Gray and Vernon D. Gibbs
  • Christmas Soul: African American Holiday Stories ~Allison Samuels
  • Mim’s Christmas Jam ~Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • Soulful Holidays: An inclusive rhyming story celebrating the joys of Christmas and Kwanzaa ~Ciara Hill

And remember you can always go back and check out the previous month’s list and past recommendations in the “Resource” section of the website!!

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” — Gwendolyn Brooks