Posted in On the Desk...

On the Desk…

So I definitely wanted to make sure I share this webinar/forum that is happening today and tomorrow!!

BlackPlanet, AOL chats, archive, #BeforeBlackTwitter, Black enclaves, digital divide, Black blog-sphere, digital spaces these and many other topics will be discussed in this 2-day event!!

Archiving the Black Web National Forum

April 29-30th, 2021

The forum is funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and will focus on strategies for collecting and preserving Black history and culture online as well as developing a community of practice for Black cultural memory organizations and practitioners interested in web archiving. The culturally relevant yet highly ephemeral nature of web-published content by and about Black people is at risk of being lost forever and as part of this forum we plan to not only discuss preservation practices for Black web content but discuss the history and future of how Black people participate in online spaces.

The project is being led by the African American Research Library and Cultural Center, in partnership with Shift Collective, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Spelman College Archives, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

To register and get the full schedule see here!!

Here’s an event that you do not want to miss!! Gonna be lots of jewels dropping!!

~Dr. G

Posted in Conversations with Beloved & Kindred, On the Desk...

Conversations with Beloved & Kindred-Episode #8

Missed last week’s episode of Conversations with Beloved and Kindred? No problem, I got you covered!!

Check out our latest conversation on the film Fast Color below:

On next time, we will be closing out the Lovecraft Country series with episodes 9 and 10!! And as always you do not want to miss out!! Can’t wait for you to join us in May!!

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

Dr. G’s Upcoming Events

Here are a couple of events happening tomorrow and Friday:

*April 22nd, 2021 (8pm/ET)– “Art, Politics, and Social Justice in Times of Crisis.”-Art History Graduate Studies Symposium (Virtual Keynote Speaker)…Art History program (Department of Art)[University of Memphis] (Memphis, TN)

To Register to Attend Click Here

*April 23rd, 2021 (3-3:20 pm/EST)– “Inclusive and Accessible Teaching Practices using Media and Popular Culture”-2021 Virtual Symposia-Inclusive Teaching Practices (Symposium Speaker)…VCU-Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence [Virginia Commonwealth University] (Richmond, VA)

Inclusive and Accessible Teaching Practices using Media and Popular Culture

In 2021, pop culture is not just for entertainment purposes. Classrooms are now prime spaces to facilitate and leverage ‘pop culture’ into open dialogues and discussions for students to engage with various classroom topics. 

To Register to Attend Click Here

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Posted in On the Desk...

On the Desk…

As I continue to dive into my new city, I am super excited to share this CFC (Call For Contributions) on “Imagining Black Futures in Richmond” in which I am serving as the lead editor!! It is open to all and you do not have to reside in Richmond to contribute! See below for more information!

VCU Publishing seeking contributions to ‘Imagining Black Futures in Richmond’*
The online anthology aims to reveal legacies of harm and envision new futures.

VCU Publishing — which amplifies VCU scholarly and research findings and provides publishing opportunities for students and faculty — is seeking contributions for “Imagining Black Futures in Richmond,” a curated open access anthology that will imagine and explore futures for Richmond through an Afrofuturist lens.

VCU Publishing, part of VCU Libraries, is hoping to receive Afrofuturist works from diverse authors — both academic and community members — as well as diverse disciplines and perspectives. These contributions could include any discipline and in many forms, whether they be scholarly essays, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, visual media (for example, photo essays or comic or graphic art), or interviews.

Authors do not have to reside in the Richmond area, but the work in some way must address the city, which continues to grapple with past and present racism and inequality. And since VCU is woven into the fabric of Richmond, VCU Publishing is also interested in works that embrace or challenge the university’s position in the community. By taking a multidisciplinary approach, the project aims to reveal legacies of harm and envision new futures.

The project will be published as a book that will be available online and free on Scholars Compass, VCU’s institutional repository. It will be edited by Grace D. Gipson, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

“I am excited to take part in this multidisciplinary anthology project with VCU Publishing,” said Gipson, whose research interests include Black popular culture, digital humanities, representations of race and gender within comic books, Afrofuturism, and race and new media. “As a new resident to Richmond and to VCU, I look forward to learning more about the city of Richmond and the many ways that it explores the Black imaginary space.”

Afrofuturism has been defined by journalist and filmmaker Ytasha Womack as “an intersection of imagination, technology, the future, and liberation” that “redefines culture and notions of blackness for today and the future” while combining “elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity and magic realism with non-Western beliefs.”

Building on the aspirations and explorations of W.E.B. Du Bois’ scholarly work as well as his speculative fiction, and moving forward to encompass popular culture in its broadest sense, Afrofuturism offers a conceptual springboard for an imagined future for the greater Richmond area that can be expressed through essays, scholarly studies and creative works. A future where, in the words of Du Bois, all are judged “by their souls and not by their skins.”

The idea for “Imagining Black Futures in Richmond” arose out of discussions on future directions for VCU Publishing following the publication of “The Politics of Annexation” alongside renewed calls for racial justice in summer 2020.

Jimmy Ghaphery, associate dean for scholarly communications and publishing at VCU Libraries, said he is excited to see how “Imagining Black Futures in Richmond” “can reflect a rich history of community activism in the city, and establish Richmond as a nexus for imagining and creating a new and more just future for the South and the United States.”

The project, he added, is expected to include a hands-on paid publishing experience for a VCU student.

Sam Byrd, scholarly publishing librarian at VCU Libraries, said the team is hoping to receive an array of materials that “amaze us, that we hadn’t dreamed of.”

“Richmond is a changing city,” he said. “The monuments starting to come down may be the most visible sign of that, but there has been so much more work going on before, during and after, from so many different voices. I hope this project can amplify that diversity and energy and give us some creative paths to move forward on.”

The deadline to contribute to “Imagining Black Futures in Richmond” is July 1. Authors will retain copyright for their work and must be willing to have the work shared and preserved by VCU Publishing.

Authors can contribute their work online (Gmail account required). Alternatively, they can attach their file in email to publishing@vcu.edu, including their name and the title of their contribution. The book is projected to publish in late spring 2022. For more details or further inquiries, VCU Publishing can be contacted at publishing@vcu.edu.

*Reposted from VCU News

Image Credit: Shyama Kuver

Posted in On the Desk...

On the Desk…

“True beauty is skin deep!!”….“Loving the skin that I’m in!”

As part of my regular routine, every morning I scroll through my Apple News app to see what is going on in the world. And yesterday I got wind of some exciting news!! Now as someone who is a collector of children’s books (particularly ones that feature Black children), so as you can imagine I was excited to know and get Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o’s 2019 book, “Sulwe”. This is a visually, captivating book that speaks to the Black girl experience, as it tells the story of a young, dark-skinned Black girl who wants to be accepted and seen as beautiful. And even before reading the first page of the book I was immediately drawn in based off of the cover!! All the varying blues and purple colors, the stars twinkling in the background, and then right front and center and image of a precocious Black girl reaching out! Here is a book that is literally talking to my 7-year old self!!

As noted by Nyong’o, “The story of Sulwe is one that is very close to my heart…It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love. Sulwe is a mirror for dark-skinned children to see themselves, a window for those who may not be familiar with colorism, to have understanding and empathy.”

That excitement would continue as I would learn that Netflix has plans to unveil “Sulwe” (a New York Times bestselling children’s book) as an animated musical feature with Nyong’o as producer!!

Nyong’o tweeted on February 18th, 2021, “Sulwe is going to be an animated movie!! Thank you to the readers of all ages who have joined #Sulwe on her starry ride. I’m so excited for this next adventure on @Netflix! #BrightnessIsJustWhoYouAre

This is definitely something to celebrate as the animated musical feature will continue to highlight and showcase what the book has already established by providing another platform for Black girls to embrace the idea of #selflove; while also addressing issues of colorism and re-writing the beauty standard narrative. Having this message personified through various mediums of popular culture is crucial and can and is life-changing! For little Black girls to see themselves presented in a book and on the television screen that is shown in an empowering light, is quite powerful!!

And to tide you over before the animated feature hits Netflix check out Lupita reading “Sulwe” on the Netflix original series, Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices! see below:

“I cannot run away from who I am and my complexion or the larger society, and how they may view that.” ― Lupita Nyong’o

“I am dripping melanin and honey. I am black without apology.” ― Upile Chisala

Posted in On the Desk...

2021 Black History Month Features

Are you looking for an engaging documentary to watch with the family? Do you need a special report to share with you students? Or a digital platform that taps into your musical and/or intellectual interests? Well I have a few things that are airing this month in honor of Black History Month:

Television

  • Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage (History Channel)- Wednesday, February 10th at 8pm/ET…”In this one hour special, Robin Roberts explores the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary group of African American pilots including her father that served in WWII, revealing how these warriors for change helped end segregation in the military and pave the way for the civil rights movement.”
  • The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song (PBS)- February 16 & 17th at 9pm ET/8pm CT…An intimate four-hour series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song will explore the 400-year-old story of the black church in America, the changing nature of worship spaces, and the men and women who shepherded them from the pulpit, the choir loft, and church pews.
  • American Masters: How It Feels To Be Free (PBS)…“The inspiring story of how six iconic African American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.

YouTube, Website & Streaming Services

  • Your Attention Please (Hulu)-February 18th 8pm/ET…Your Attention Please is a TV series “that introduces audiences to Black innovators and creators who are working to leave the world better than they found it.”
  • Ailey Experience Atlanta-February 19th-21st…Ailey Experience Atlanta celebrates over forty years of a rich partnership with the city’s most prominent arts and civic organizations. This year, AEA teams up with AREA Atlanta to bring Ailey Experience online to the greater Atlanta area and across the country.
  • iHeartRadio’s Living Black! (iHeartRadio)-February 20th 6pm/ET…A first ever special event that features conversations that educate, inspire and celebrate the Black experience through a mix of custom tributes from artists and listeners across the nation. 
  • Black Renaissance (YouTube)- Friday, February 26th…A YouTube Originals special that will showcase the Black creators, artists, writers, storytellers, and history makers who have shaped our nation’s history; and the next generation of Black voices who are reimagining our future. The special will also feature dance, music, fashion, photography, literature, Afrofuturism, and art from Black Women and LGBTQ+ artists.
  • All Hands: Race Toward Inclusion (Cheddar.com)…”All Hands is a show about the minority stories that go untold. Each week, we peel back the layers of business stories that expose racial inequalities and are exacerbated by global phenomena like climate change and health crises. We also discuss the successes of minority businesses and communities, and examine how to talk about, and take action on, race-related topics. It’s an inclusive living room in which to have meaningful, difficult, and provocative discussions… *for* everyone.
  • A Most Beautiful Thing (Peacock)…Narrated by the Academy Award/Grammy-winning artist, Common; executive produced by NBA Stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade along with Grammy Award-winning producer 9th Wonder; and directed by award-winning filmmaker (and Olympic rower) Mary Mazzio, the film chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country (made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago), all coming together to row in the same boat. Based on the memoir by Arshay Cooper.
  • Freedia Got a Gun (Peacock)…“Devastated after learning that her brother was murdered, New Orleans bounce legend Big Freedia raises awareness about gun violence, an epidemic that continues to disproportionally harm Black communities.”
  • The Sit-in: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show (Peacock)…“In 1968, entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte took over “The Tonight Show” for one historic week, introducing a fractured, changing country to itself alongside legendary guests like Aretha Franklin and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

Get your popcorn ready!!

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Posted in On the Desk...

On the Desk…

Let’s Go #Back2Wakanda !!

Aerial view of Wakanda

Looks like fans we will be able to revisit the Kingdom of Wakanda!

Check out what crossed my desk…just got word that acclaimed director Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Fruitvale Station, Creed) is set to create a new Wakanda series for Disney+!!

As reported by Marvel.com, Ryan Coogler is set to develop a new drama for Disney+ that is based on the fictional society of Wakanda. The upcoming series is set to be a part of The Walt Disney Company’s five-year exclusive television deal in collaboration with Coogler’s multi-media company Proximity*.

So not only do we get to see the work of Coogler in film through the Black Panther sequel, but we will also get to see his magic play out on our television screens!! According to Bob Iger, Executive Chairman-The Walt Disney Company,

“Ryan Coogler is a singular storyteller whose vision and range have made him one of the standout filmmakers of his generation…With Black Panther, Ryan brought a groundbreaking story and iconic characters to life in a real, meaningful and memorable way, creating a watershed cultural moment. We’re thrilled to strengthen our relationship and look forward to telling more great stories with Ryan and his team.”

This is very exciting news, as viewers will get a chance to see Wakanda’s story continue to unfold, and in many ways create another branch that picks up from where we stopped in the 2018 Black Panther film. As a huge fan of Coogler’s work (directing, producing, writing), I can only imagine what he along with his Proximity team have in store for us! Through this television series and other potential projects, audiences will get the opportunity to dive deeper into the fantastical world and people of Wakanda. In addition, the creation of this series will also provide another platform to elevate and amplify Black diasporic talent and voices in front and behind the camera and television screen.

“We look forward to learning, growing, and building a relationship with audiences all over the world through the Disney platforms. We are especially excited that we will be taking our first leap with Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and their partners at Marvel Studios where we will be working closely with them on select MCU shows for Disney+. We’re already in the mix on some projects that we can’t wait to share,” as stated by Coogler.

Nothing like watching the unveiling of Black Excellence!!

*Proximity is a multi-media company founded by Ryan Coogler, Zinzi Coogler, Sev Ohanian, Ludwig Göransson, Archie Davis and Peter Nicks with a mission to create event-driven feature films, television, soundtracks and podcasts that look to bring audiences closer together through stories involving often-overlooked subject matters. Proximity is committed to developing a wide variety of projects across all budget levels.

Posted in On the Desk...

On the Desk…

“Thank you Ms. Cicely Tyson!!”

With the recent passing of the legendary Cicely Tyson on January 28th, I remember the moment I got the news…my heart stopped and for several moments I lost all breath in my body. I did not want to believe that Earth had lost a legend, and the ancestors gained a new angel!

Television and film will never be the same without Ms. Tyson!! Her mark on Hollywood is unforgettable. She not only entertained but educated. Ms. Tyson’s resume is so vast and diverse, she could embody any role and nail it, all while achieving numerous accolades! I can vividly remember watching her in Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, Roots (1977), Own Network’s Cherish the Day, Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), The Proud Family, Idlewild (2006), Netflix series House of Cards and so so so much more! With each role she left an indelible imprint.

Considering she never had a dull moment, it warmed my heart to know that she received her flowers while she was still alive. So often the awards, honorary moments, medals and come after an icon passes, but in the case of Ms. Tyson she got to see it, live it and enjoy it!!

Coming from humble beginnings, Ms. Tyson blazed a trail and did not stop until her last breath (almost literally). At 96 years young, to me, Ms. Tyson was immortal!! Her beauty, her voice, those striking eyes, her style…she was simply flawless!!

As we continue to celebrate Ms. Tyson’s life and legacy, I look forward to learning more about her in her own words as I read her 2021 memoir, “Just As I Am”.

So yes Ms. Tyson “you’ve done your best” and some….and for that I say Thank You!!

~Dr. G

Posted in On the Desk...

One the Desk

To Be Young Gifted and Black: Finding Black Excellence in “The Hill We Climb”

Sweet Baby Jesus!! Today (and yesterday) we witnessed #BlackExcellence and #Herstory in multiple ways, from the swearing in of Madame Vice President Kamala V. Harris, to the inspiring benediction by Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman, to the full display of Black fashion (Pyer Moss, Christopher John Rogers, Sergio Hudson), to the powerful and poignant National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman !! My cup runneth over and I was filled with pure joy and happiness.

However, one moment in particular that stood out for me was witnessing 22-year old Amanda Gorman recite her poem The Hill We Climb on the Capitol steps this morning! Gorman’s poem was more than just words on a paper, but a call to the past, a moment to reflect, a call to action, and a space to inspire. Glowing and shining like the North Star, Gorman stunned audiences with her long yellow coat and crisp white shirt, with a ruby red headband atop her braids … listening to her reminded me of watching Maya Angelou share her poem On the Pulse of Morning at President Bill Clinton’s 1992 inauguration.

Now we assert: How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

Gorman’s words, poise, and presentation inspired me as a fellow Black woman and it is my hope and prayer that her action and representation inspires not only young girls, but women of all ages to make their voices heard!

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman delivering her poem “The Hill We Climb”
during the Biden-Harris Inauguration on January 20th, 2021

Everything about this occasion reads dignified, graceful, and refreshing! She had such a natural flow…literally and physically! Gorman’s eloquent moment in so many ways channeled the legacies of Shirley Chisholm, Maya Angelou, Ella Baker, Toni Morrison, and Fannie Lou Hamer!! The foundations they established laid the groundwork for a young Black woman like Amanda Gorman. Ahhhh they would be so proud! The acknowledgement of this moment is essential and should not be forgotten, if anything we should continue to see more moments like this one!

Let me tell you the ancestors are truly smiling today!!

For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, If only we’re brave enough to be it.

To see the full video and transcript, please see here!

~Dr. G.