Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., Feature Spotlight

Chicago Humanities Festival Feature Q&A: “Dr. Grace D. Gipson’s Favorite Comic Book Characters”*

So your girl got a chance to share a few of her comic book faves with the Chicago Humanities Festival! Always love the chance to geek out and share!! Check it out below!!

*Original Post Feature from the Chicago Humanities Festival

Chicago Humanities Festival - Nonprofit Giving Platform | GiveGab

In May 2021 Black future feminist and pop culture scholar Dr. Grace D. Gipson was joined at Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) by Bianca Xunise (Say Her Name) for a conversation about the past and future of comics.

After the program, we spoke to Dr. Gipson about some of her favorite comic book series, characters, and authors.

CHF: In your CHF program, you mentioned comic books and characters (like Dark Horse’s Martha Washington, who grew up in Chicago). Can you talk a little bit more about the history and significance of some of your favorite series, characters, and authors?

1) Storm (X-Men, Marvel Comics)

Gipson: When it comes to selecting my favorite comic book characters, I have a pretty solid line-up. While my introduction into comics was through the funny papers, there would be one character that truly drew me into the genre: Marvel Comics’s Storm from the X-Men.

As a Black woman who not only served as a leader of the X-Men, but also a goddess that controlled the weather elements, Storm as a fictional character provided an example of progressive representation and a fantastical escape.

Her presence in the comic book world made a significant impression on me as a young, Black girl from the Midwest. I was able to see myself, at the center and not on the fringes, within this popular medium that had been dominated primarily by white and male characters. Storm also opened the door for me to discover more Black female characters, as well as Black female comic book writers and artists.

2) Martha Washington (Dark Horse Comics)

Gipson: Another character who would have a significant impact on me personally and professionally is that of Dark Horse Comics’s Martha Washington. Created in the early 1990s, Martha Washington resonated with me in a very close way, considering her character was based in Chicago, IL. As a Champaign, IL native her story literally and figuratively felt close to home.

Martha Washington’s narrative as explored through The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century comic book series sought to showcase a “regular” relatable character that, despite her circumstances, becomes a heroine for her local community and ultimately the world.

Set in the urban space of the Cabrini-Green projects, Martha Washington’s beginnings (which are told in the first issue Give Me Liberty) explore, from a dystopian perspective, a current and relevant story of public housing, crime, poverty, Black youth, adulthood, womanhood, and even patriotism. Uniquely, her story offers a rare opportunity to explore American patriotism from a Black woman’s point of view. This is especially noteworthy considering the lack of Black female leads in comics, during the 1990s.

When it comes to comics, one can never underestimate the power of a diverse story and the impact it can have on all types of readers. These next two characters not only contribute diverse storylines but also have the impact of reaching a young audience. When looking at the landscape of comic book characters, most of them are adults, so it is refreshing to see a Black female youth presence.

3) Raquel “Rocket” Ervin (Milestone Comics)

Gipson: Raquel “Rocket” Ervin from Milestone Comics (a Black publishing company) is one of the earliest examples of a Black teen character that I have encountered. Also, Rocket’s storyline is one of the first comics to deal with complex and practical issues such as teen pregnancy, balancing motherhood, Black mentorship, and community access. And it was done in a way that avoided stereotypes, while providing hope.

As a character influenced by notable figures like Toni Morrison and W.E.B. Du Bois, Rocket provides an existing reality and a story of dedication and perseverance. Although she is deemed as a superhero, for Rocket her true superpower and strength is her ability to inspire.

4) RiRi “Ironheart” Williams (Marvel Comics)

Gipson: Another character that humanizes the Black girl experience is that of Marvel Comics RiRi “Ironheart” Williams. Through RiRi/Ironheart, as a fictional character, she personifies what it means to be a young, gifted, Black teen in today’s society. Her character also shares another look into the STEM world by encouraging Black girls to embrace one’s giftedness and intelligence.

This is a comic that I wish existed when I was a teenager, but nonetheless grateful that young Black girls and the world are able to appreciate it now. What is also significant about the Ironheart story is that it is written by a Black woman and Chicago-native, Eve L. Ewing, this is key as most stories in past comic book history have been written and drawn by white men (thankfully there is a growing landscape of representation).

To know that I am represented on the page and behind the panel inspires and further confirms that Black women and girls deserve to take up space in this popular medium. Ultimately, both Rocket and Ironheart are perfect examples of how comics can rewrite the script regarding Black girlhood and the importance of why “Representation Matters!!”

5) Torchy Brown (created by Jackie Ormes)

Gipson: Lastly, I felt it was important to not just recognize the importance of some of my favorite characters, but also one of my favorite writers/artists. Before there was even a Storm, Martha Washington, Rocket, or Ironheart there was a Black female lead named Torchy Brown created by cartoonist and writer Jackie Ormes. Similar to the Martha Washington character, Jackie Ormes legacy and work would find a home in Chicago.

As the first Black female cartoonist, Ormes was instrumental in resetting the standard in cartooning and comic strips. She did this by creating her own lane of telling stories that primarily featured Black voices, while also challenging the stereotypes and caricatures often presented in mainstream press. With readers from coast-to-coast, Ormes used her comic strip series and panels to discuss unapologetic commentary on such issues as racism, labor and taxes, U.S. Foreign policy, violence against women, unfair housing, segregated schools, and environmental injustice. She was able to use her talents to not only inform but also showcase (while entertain), in full color, the existence of intelligent, stylish and fashionable Black characters (particularly Black women). With Chicago as an honorary character, much of Ormes cartoon and comic strip work mirrored her real life as she was a community advocate and mentor, fundraiser, and trendsetter.

(Snapshot of a few of my faves!! Image Credit: Grace D. Gipson)

To check out the full feature, see here!!

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts...

The South really does have something to say folks…

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse “is an immersive multimedia art exhibition that traces 100 years of African American cultural influence and artistic expression.” This statement really does sum up so eloquently what visitors will see and hear when visiting this exhibition at the VMFA.

So upon walking through the doors, I am greeted with smiles and hello’s by a few VMFA workers, I pick up a brochure and I immediately see a thing of beauty… SLAB, 2021 (1990 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance with custom accessories) [see below]…before you even walk into the actual exhibition one has to take a drive-by (rather walk-by lol) this classic vehicle, which in many ways sets the tone.

(“SLAB, 2021”-By: Richard FIEND Jones [aka International Jones] at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, VA, Picture Courtesy of Grace D. Gipson)

This clean ride brings some joy into my heart and definitely made me smile. But what would come next stops me in my tracks. In the distance, I hear this faint but “chill up your spine” sound reminiscent of “Strange Fruit” sung by Billie Holiday. And as i get closer of course my ears do not deceive me at all, it’s this one lyric “Black bodies swingin’ in the southern breeze” on loop… One moment you hear and see Billie Holiday and then the next you hear and see Jill Scott, while simultaneously you see this video of a little Black girl on a swing enjoying the simple pleasures in life! I was like WOW, I’m just getting started and they GOT me!!

The Dirty South in so many ways is about identity, preservation, labor, expression, pain, joy, faith, tradition, and so much more. There were many moments when I would either get goosebumps or this tingle of my spine ( a couple of times I felt both) after hearing a jarring sonic sound, or gazing at an image that left me speechless. With each room I never knew what to expect, which made the exhibition like this exploratory adventure. But it was also like a Southern scavenger hunt, where I had this internal list of artists and themes that I knew I would have to find. Some of these artists/creatives that I would find included Bisa Butler, Romare Bearden, Kara Walker, Nick Cave, Clementine Hunter, Fahamu Pecou, Sun Ra, Deborah Roberts, among many others!!

(A collage of various works [Fahamu Pecou, Kara Walker, Renee Stout, Clementine Hunter and Bisa Butler] that are part of “The Dirty South…” exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, VA, Picture Courtesy of Grace D. Gipson)

The Southern Black experience and culture was truly present so much so that I definitely had a few out of body moments where my spirit momentarily left, eventually making its way back to my body. So often the south gets placed into a singular box, but this exhibition made it very clear that is definitely not the case. As I always say #RepresentationMatters and that message was loud and clearly (literally and figuratively)!! Your thinking of the South will definitely be transformed. Blackness is unapologetically centered, but is enhanced by a spiritual conjuring, the regional inclusions, the Black queer voice, the labor, the children, the sonic vibrations, and the persistence of Black folks from the past all the way to the future!! So many stories, so many voices, so many points of view, just so much to take in…this was a time where I welcomed the feeling of being overwhelmed….My cup runneth over!!

Another moment worth mentioning that really made a huge impact was the way in which children were represented. I appreciated that not only did I see the pain and trauma, but also the way in which many of the images of the children were so innocent, simple and carefree. Some of the photographs like the one below took me back to my childhood days of going to church with mama and grandma and dozing off into a brief slumber on their lap, or flipping through the hymnals and singing along with the choir….ohhhh the memories.

(Top-“Ali and Quentin in Church” [1988]; Bottom l-r- “Ali” and “Ali and Quentin on Avenue S” [1988] By: Marilyn Nance at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, VA, Picture Courtesy of Grace D. Gipson)

Nothing was off limits in The Dirty South, trust you will get it all and some!! Valerie Cassel Oliver, who serves as the exhibition curator creates a playing field that hits several home runs!! You will leave having many definitions of what the south represents. And without spoiling the last feature of the exhibition, I will say this just make sure you are prepared for every emotion to seep out of your body, just make sure to release and let it go…

Mississippi, Georgia (Atlanta), Alabama, Tennessee (Memphis), Texas (Houston), Louisiana (New Orleans), Florida (Miami) even parts of Africa and the galaxy have space in the The Dirty South exhibition. So if you have a chance, or you will be in the Richmond area it would be worth your while to stop by and check out this amazing aesthetic, cultural, and sonic experience!!

(“Strange Fruit” [1989] By: David Hammons at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA, Picture Courtesy of Grace D. Gipson)
(“DJ Screw in Heaven 2 [2016] By: El Franco Lee II at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Richmond, VA, Picture Courtesy of Grace D. Gipson)

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse will be at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts through September 6th, 2021.

#VMFADirtySouth

~Dr. G “An Honorary Southerner”

Posted in On the Desk...

Celebrating #BlackMusicMonth!!

In honor of #BlackMusicMonth, Dr. Robinson and I wanted to make sure we brought you all another episode of Summertime Conversations on “Feeling Good”: Exploring the Lived Experience of Black Joy!! Our latest episode is a dialogue on Black Music Month as well as a ‘Sonic Curation of Happiness via Black Music’!!

Check it out below…

And if you wanna check out our “Black Joy & Happiness” Soundtrack that was discussed on this episode, check it out below!!

“It’s an artist duty to reflect the times in which we live.”

~Nina Simone

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

Summertime Conversations: ‘Feeling Good’: Juneteenth-Why Our Jubilation Matters!

In addition to my earlier thoughts on Juneteenth and the BFF Juneteenth Resource Guide, check out the video below: Summertime Conversations on “Feeling Good”Juneteenth: Why Our Day of Jubilation Matters! sponsored by Auburn Avenue Research Library with my fellow sista-scholar Dr. Kaniqua Robinson.

We had a great time talking about the Juneteenth holiday, traditions, and hopes for the future!!

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

Happy Juneteenth 2021!!

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” ~Toni Morrison

Today marks the 156th year since the message of freedom was delivered to those enslaved in Texas, also known as Juneteenth (portmanteau of June and nineteenth)!! A celebration of emancipation, liberation, and Black Joy!!

And what is Juneteenth? Juneteenth refers to June 19th, 1865 the day when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas to inform the 250,000 enslaved Black people that they were free. Keep in mind the Emancipation Proclamation (which ended slavery) had went into effect January 1st, 1863 (also the start of watch night services), so Texas would not get this memo for almost two and half years later. And people wonder why Black people cannot wait for change! Why we are persistent about consistent upward and forward movement! Why are Black people not quick to trust, because of past failures and screw ups like what happened in Galveston, TX. Nevertheless, the chains are breaking and the truth is being revealed.

In a way there has been this sudden awakening regarding the Juneteenth holiday. Much like how the message of freedom was delayed in its delivery to those enslaved in Texas, one could say there is a delayed recognition (on a larger scale) of the Juneteenth holiday. With all of the the national protests, police violence, and continuous murder of Black and Brown bodies of last year the U.S. would be reminded of past moments of resistance and endurance. This acknowledgement rebirth is what I like to think of as a memory survival. As Isabel Wilkerson writes in her amazing book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, “The people from Texas took Juneteenth Day to Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and other places they went.” And thank goodness the memory of Juneteenth will always be present, because we cannot afford to have any more delays, these are moments that we need right now and always!

So when did I learn about Juneteenth, I remember it being brought up during one of my summer classes as an Upward Bound student, and in passing from one of my aunts who lives in Texas. But I would really learn about Juneteenth while attending Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, GA) and while out grocery shopping and a young man handed me a flyer for a Juneteenth celebration that was set to take place. Outside of the above-mentioned instances, I did not have any previous knowledge. Now I am not surprised by this, nor am I surprised that many other Black folks are only just now aware of what Juneteenth is and its significance. Even though I may not be from Texas, I take Juneteenth as my Independence Day/Emancipation Day, because clearly July 4th is not!!

Juneteenth is not only a day to celebrate, but also another day to inform the masses, continue speaking out on injustices, and always a day to remember! It’s also another excuse for me to celebrate my Blackness and create more ways to express Black joy and agency. This holiday is also an opportunity to instill values of self-improvement, racial uplift, and reclamation of the family unit. These values were personified through religious sermons and the singing of negro spirituals, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, rodeos, and the preservation of slave food traditions and delicacies (ex. BBQ and soul food). Juneteenth is another holiday that allows Black folks to commune and fellowship and just be free with ourselves!! This freedom has been further expressed with the creation of various websites and the Juneteenth flag:

Created in 1997 by activist and founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF) Ben Haith, the flag consists of a star, burst, arc, and the colors red, white, and blue. According to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) the star is a nod to the Lone Star State (where Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1865), but also stands for the freedom of every Black American in all 50 states, the burst represents an outline surrounding the star meant to reflect a nova— or new star—this represents a new beginning for all, and the arc represents a new horizon, fresh opportunities and promising futures for Black Americans. The colors are also reminiscent of the United States flag, this was intentional to show that the enslaved African Americans and their descendants are also free Americans. Even in our symbols there is always a deep, layered meaning attached.

In 2021, Juneteenth has become more than just a holiday, but in many ways a movement!! Not only are school curriculums slowly changing, but we are also becoming more informed about the holiday through popular media. A few examples include:

  • High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America [Netflix]: Episode 4, ‘Freedom’
  • Atlanta (FX Network): Season 1, Episode 9, ‘Juneteenth’ [Television]
  • Black-ish (ABC): Season 4, Episode 1, ‘Juneteenth’ [Television]
  • Miss Juneteenth (2020) [Film]
  • Juneteenth Jamboree [Austin PBS]

And as of 2020, according to the Congressional Research Service all states, except Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota, recognize/celebrate Juneteenth in some sort of fashion. This personally became significant for me because upon moving to Virginia on last year Juneteenth became a permanent statewide holiday (following in the footsteps of Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania). The fact that Virginia made this a statewide holiday is truly significant considering the states past history and the fact that the state is known as being the capital of the Confederacy…Interesting how tides are beginning to change!!

In the end when I think about Juneteenth I am optimistic…I am hopeful…I am excited. Optimistic that one day it will become a national holiday, and that it will truly get the recognition that it deserves. Juneteenth is a holiday even worthy of being acknowledged internationally. Hopeful that the celebration of this holiday is not just for a moment or season, but for an infinity of lifetimes. Excited because with each passing day more and more people are learning about the importance and significance of Juneteenth!! Even if this is your first year, make sure it is not your last!!

And just in case you need a few references for later reading and viewing check out the following link!!

Happy Juneteenth!!

~Dr. G

Posted in Conversations with Beloved & Kindred, On The Radar

New Summer Series!!

Birds flying high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me, ooh
And I’m feeling good

‘Feelin’ Good’ ~Nina Simone

Hello!! Hello!! How are you feeling my friends?! Like Nina Simone, I’m feelin’ good and can’t wait for summer to get here!!

Summertime is definitely one of my favorite seasons, partly due to my Birthday [Leo in the House!!], the weather is amazing, and the fact that there is so much happening on a day-to-day basis! Well I got something for you to add to your summertime fun! Dr. Kaniqua Robinson and I are linking back up for some summertime conversations. If you have tuned into our video podcast, Conversations with Beloved and Kindred then you already have a sneak peek into what is to come!!

For the month of June, Auburn Avenue Research Library will host the limited series Summertime Conversations on “Feelin’ Good”: Exploring the Lived Experience of Black Joy!! Inspired by Nina Simone’s 1965 classic song “Feelin’ Good”, Summertime Conversations on “Feelin’ Good” is a freeform dialogue that foregrounds how people of African descent create communal agency and collective resilience via the cultivation of joy. Check out what is in store below:

  • June 16th-Juneteenth Why Our Day of Jubilation Matters: In recognition of Juneteenth (2021), this discussion will examine the history and contemporary relevance of the Juneteenth holiday as a curated expression of Black joy and agency. Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, which has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s.
  • June 23rd-Sonic Curation of Happiness via Black Music: In recognition of Black Music Month (June), this discussion will explore the songs and singers/musicians that contribute to the communal expression of collective Black joy and happiness soundtrack.

Both episodes will take place at 5 pm via Auburn Avenue Research Library Facebook Live and YouTube Channel (for Live and later viewing).

Look forward to you all tuning in!!

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts...

A Professor’s Thoughts…

2021 Black History Month Reflections…*

“Taking steps that lead to action, that result in change.” ~Dr. G

This year’s celebration of Black History Month hit me a little different this time around. Not that I do not think about and enjoy the fact that we highlight the achievements and success of Black and African diasporic people; I think I now ponder more about what Black History Month has become. Keep in mind, every February I prepare my mind for the year’s celebration, I become on high alert to see who is temporarily stepping up their efforts to celebrate Black History. Every year we see this rise in celebrating and acknowledging the Black/African American experience from various companies, organizations, schools/universities, businesses, etc. 2021 becomes even more on high alert with how the aforementioned are responding/reacting and celebrating this month due to last year’s protests and the many deaths that happened due to racially motivated violence, police brutality, and systemic oppression.

These days as an Assistant Professor in African American Studies, Black History Month is a day-to-day routine. As a matter of fact, I recently recall having a conversation with a couple of my colleagues about celebrating Black History Month. One asked, what should AFAM/AAS departments do to celebrate Black History Month? And I quickly responded with “we celebrate Black History Month 365, every semester, every academic year…we’re and AFAM department that’s what we do naturally.” As a kid, Black History Month was all about coloring pictures of historical figures (i.e. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Matthew Henson), watching an assortment of documentaries, listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, and participating in my church’s “Black History Month” presentation. In high school and college, the celebration shifted to getting deeper into the history and achievements of Black people. It also became an opportunity to have more discussions and conversations about the above with not just other Black people, but ALL people. I will say each phase of my life, up to this current moment has and always been about not just celebrating but staying informed, embracing a deeper sense of pride, continuous acknowledgement, and making sure other people realize this is not just a 28-day effort.

Starting out as “Negro History Week” in 1926 by historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson, his intentions were very clear…educate young African Americans about their own heritage, and the achievements of their ancestors. Woodson dedicated much of his life to ensure that history would be re-written and that the Black/African American population would not be ignored. He believed, “the achievements of the Negro properly set forth will crown him as a factor in early human progress and a maker of modern civilization.” This challenge of inserting Black Americans into history was no easy task for Woodson as he and his colleagues struggled to meet the demand for course materials and other resources (sound familiar…). But this would not stop Woodson from doing the work (Officially the celebration became a month-long in 1976)! According to Woodson, making this effort a reality was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the [Black] race.

Many often ask why February, but Woodson selected this month due to the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent figures whose historic achievements played a role in the African Americans population. Ultimately, what Woodson hoped is that the public celebrations moved beyond just simply being one week. For him Black History was never meant to be confined into one week, he actually sought for it to be eliminated and see that Black History became fundamental to American History.

Now what becomes interesting over the years is the critiques and naysayers of Black History Month. Some have argued that “Black History Month could reduce complex historical figures to overly simplified objects of ‘hero worship,’” and others have even described it as racist (this becomes very interesting how the celebration of achievements and triumphs is seen as racist…but that is for another time). Then you have specific critics like actors Morgan Freeman and Stacey Dash who criticized the concept of declaring one month as Black History Month. Freeman would note, “there is no White History Month and there should be no Black History Month…Black History is American History. While I find some slender truths to the above thought, unfortunately Freeman is not fully informed. Freeman also noted (and co-signed by Dash) that the only way to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it” and this is where you completely lose me…It is not that easy. His critique is very much surface-level. It is actually quite the opposite. And even if we agree with pieces of Freeman’s argument, unfortunately not everyone feels the same way about Black History as American History. This is evident considering we still have to constantly remind people that Black Lives Matters! It would be amazing if Blackness and Black life was normalized, sadly we still have work to do when it comes to this endeavor.

As a federally recognized and global celebration (Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom celebrate Black History Month in October) in 2021, I realize more and more why Black History Month must exist. The celebration has moved beyond the classroom, textbooks are no longer the only source of information, Black History Month is in real time. Instagram in 2018 created its first ever Black History Month program, which featured various initiatives such as a #BlackGirlMagic partnership with Spotify and launching their #CelebrateBlackCreatives program. Various streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime highlight content that centers Black Voices; and in 2020 Target Corporation created a marketing campaign “Black Beyond measure” that features Black creators and entrepreneurs. Additionally, this year Apple launched a variety of ways to celebrate Black History Month through the App Store Black History Month Hub along with introducing the Black Unity Collection. Many of the abovementioned initiatives not only celebrate, acknowledge, and highlight Black culture but are also financially donating to numerous organizations as a part of “promoting and achieving” equality and civil rights nationally and globally. Although I am sometimes weary of these collaborations, my hope like Woodson, is that it becomes a part of the normal regular conversation and not just during a certain when you can say you satisfied your diversity requirement.

There is a never-ending well of knowledge as it relates to Black History and culture, and we are far beyond just simply only talking about enslavement and civil rights. We must continue to shine a light on the whole entire picture of African Americans. A wealth of knowledge awaits us, not just Black people but everyone!! We are not a monolith, but we are worthy to be celebrated!!

—-

As we reflect and close out another Black History Month celebration, be reminded that it will never be wrong to celebrate each year in February, but know that the fun can and does continue year-round!!

Image result for things to do

28 Things You Can Do For Black History Month And Even After…

  1. Educate yourself by digging through the archives of an African American-centered library and/or resource center…Make an active, regular effort to learn about the many facets of Black experiences and culture…Visit a museum/cultural center dedicated to Black History and culture
  2. Trace your family history (Ancestry.com, 23andMe.com)
  3. Support a Black-owned business
  4. Visit/Donate to an Historically Black College or University HBCU
  5. Host a Family & Friends Black film marathon
  6. Create a Book Club that highlights Black authors
  7. Tune into a podcast that discusses Black life and culture
  8. Create a soundtrack/playlist that explores the history of Black musicians and artists
  9. Call out systemic racism, stereotypes, prejudices, implicit bias and injustices
  10. Review the timeline of how Black History came to be
  11. In honor of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, host a themed open mic night
  12. In the workplace, have regular, healthy dialogues and conversations about Black life and history [Be thoughtful about inclusion, diversity, and collaborations.]
  13. Support Black radio stations, Black press, and Black newspapers
  14. Follow and support Black artists (i.e. comic book, manga, anime, illustrator, painter)
  15. Incorporate a regular inclusive curriculum (i.e. create lesson plans) in your classroom that inspires and educates (K-12 and College)
  16. Follow a Black historian, scholar, activist organization, foundation on social media (this provides exposure for them and you get to learn something new on daily/weekly/monthly basis)
  17. Have a game night with family and friends using one of these games (Black Card Revoked and CultureTags)
  18. Host a Virtual Wine Tasting with a Black-owned wine and or support/highlight Black sommeliers, winemakers, and businesses
  19. Host a dinner party, try a new recipe and/or create a weekly menu inspired by Black/African Diasporic cuisines
  20. Organize/create a Black History Internet Scavenger Hunt that uses questions that pertain to African American people and moments
  21. Participate in a Story Time reading Black authored children books via your local library/Tune into a “StoryCorps” story that centers Black voices in conversations about Black history, identity, struggles, and joy”!
  22. Volunteer your time with an organization, non-profit or charity (i.e. Happy Mama Happy Mini, Black Girls CODE, National Society of Black Engineers, United Negro College Fund, Color of Change, National Council of Black Studies, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Trans Women of Color Collective, Audre Lorde Project, Million Hoodies, Black Women’s Blueprint, and many more) that empowers and uplifts Black diasporic communities.
  23. Find ways to celebrate Black Joy!! (going to the park, streaming a concert, attending a sports event, etc.)
  24. Talk about the importance of journalism as well as its limitations with regards to Black social and cultural movements
  25. Create a monthly mural project that celebrates/honors Black artistic movements (past and present)
  26. Create a YouTube video diary that documents Black experiences
  27. Learn about Black history and culture through the lens of Black photographers
  28. Understand that Black Lives Matter!!

~Dr. G.

*Jointly published on “Happy Mama Happy Mini

Posted in Feature Spotlight

Feature Spotlight-Article Repost

In the spirit of Black History Month, I wanted to make sure I shared with my BFF family a great article in the “Washington Post” from a colleague/mentor Dr. Keisha Blain on the “Five Myths about Black History.”

Each February since 1976, Americans have celebrated Black History Month. Established by historian Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week in 1926, the commemoration developed over 50 years until it became Black History Month to mark the contributions of Black people. Despite the significance of Black history, far too many Americans don’t grasp its centrality to U.S. history. This lack of knowledge helps spread myths about the Black past.

~Dr. Keisha N. Blain 2/19/21

Read the full article here!

Dr. Keisha N. Blain is an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, is a co-editor of Made by History, The Washington Post’s daily section for historical analysis. She is a co-editor of “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019.

Posted in Feature Spotlight

Event Reminders

Friends, just a couple reminders of Dr. G’s upcoming events:

  • [WILL BE RESCHEDULED] February 24th, 2021 (6:00pm/ET)-“Black History Month Discussion: The Black Family and its Representations, Identity, and Complexities” (Panelist)…Richmond Public Library System (Richmond, VA) [Register Here]
"The Black family and its representation, identity, and diversity": A discussion with Michael Dickinson, Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, and Grace Gipson
  • February 24th, 2021-“What’s Your RPG Fantasy?: Let’s Talk Blackness, Politics, and Gaming” (Virtual Lecture)… The New Commons Project-University of Maine Farmington (Farmington, ME)…[Watch Here]