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

Just In Case You Missed It…

On this past Monday I had an opportunity to share a few of my thoughts on Black History Month and what it means to me with my sister-friend, line sister, and fellow CAU alum Nichelle Wilson and her organization Happy Mama Happy Mini!!

And just in case you might have missed it, you can check it out below:

This was such a fun interview and so glad I got the chance to share a few of my thoughts!!

Enjoy!!

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

It’s #WinterGraduation Time!!

Ahhhhh it’s that time of the year again! It’s a Saturday morning 8:30 am in Richmond, VA on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The fall/winter season of graduation is upon us!! One thing I do like about VCU is that we have graduation twice a year, for those who finish in May and those that finish in December. December graduation this year was my first time participating in the entire school celebration at the Siegel Center here on the VCU campus. And this year was extra special as I had the awesome opportunity of hooding my former student and sister friend Dr. Lisa Winn Bryan!! Participating in this joyous moment is one that I will treasure for a lifetime. I remember when she asked me to take part in this incredible moment I had to make sure I was not dreaming, causing this is a serious thing. And what really got me was that morning as all the graduates are preparing for the big moment, Lisa walks in and sees me and she immediately begins to tear up and I had to fight back tears. That was the beginning of what would be one of the most rewarding days in my professorial career.

Just a few captured moments with my sister-friend Dr. Lisa Winn Bryan!!

Graduation is ALWAYS one of my favorite times of the year here at VCU and I get to celebrate it twice once in the spring and also in the fall. This momentous occasion is one that with each year will become more and more special. This is what happens when you become invested in your craft and the students who play a role in its shaping.

This semester has been about self-determination and perseverance for not just myself, but especially for my students. Each one of them in their own unique way has charted a path to success on their own terms. I say this every semester, but it warrants being mentioned being a professor/teacher is way more than providing weekly/daily lessons and educating the future…it’s about being a listening ear, parting growing wisdom/advice, showing support in-person and via Zoom, creating platforms for stories to be told, and as my Soror and the first president of National Association of Colored Women (NACW) Mary Church Terrell once said “lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go.” Graduation is the culmination of all the hard work that students take part in during their academic matriculation, and we as professors get to see the fruits of their labor flourish. I am always grateful that I get to change lives regardless of how big or small.

This change was specifically seen in my Capstone Senior Seminar course! I had the opportunity to mentor 7 AFAM seniors as they completed their senior thesis research projects. The topics ranged from the importance of Black motorcycle clubs in the Hampton Roads, to the issue of colorism for Black men, to the need for academic safe spaces, to better representation in comic books, to healing and processing Black mental health in Black matriarchal figures. And if their oral presentations were just an appetizer to their research papers….I cannot wait till the main course!! I am so proud of each of them and the work that they have done. Overcoming fears, sharing their personal stories, being vulnerable, and taking risks that will make them better scholars and people!!

A few of my students from my AFAM 499 course, “Capstone Seminar in Africana Studies” [Bottom picture l-r Angelica Williams, Alexa McNeil, Dr. Gipson, Nylah Kelly, and Winfred Walker]

Look out world, there’s a new set scholars entering and they have something to say!!

~Dr. G

Posted in On The Radar

On The Radar

So I gotta make sure I shout out some hometown friends Kam Claiborne and Timothy Revels (also known as maK & Rev) and their thought-provoking, BLACK MINDS MATTER PODCAST !!

The BLACK MINDS MATTER PODCAST is a space where listeners can get a “Black perspective on a variety of topics ranging from education, music, religion, chivalry, finances and more”. And recently I got the opportunity to serve as a guest and talk about “generational curses”!!

Check it out below:

To tune into more episodes of BLACK MINDS MATTER PODCAST check them out here as well as on Spotify and and Google Podcasts!!

Posted in On The Radar

On The Radar-New Trailer Drop

Inspired by Colson Whiteheads’s 2016 novel, “The Underground Railroad” has been adapted into a live action television series by writer/director/showrunner Barry Jenkins for Amazon Prime Video. As noted by Jenkins,

“It’s a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation’s history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way. Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking, and in Amazon, we’ve found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision.”

So I remember hearing about this film back in Summer 2020, and I was very much intrigued. Ever since the WGN series Underground was not renewed, I always hoped that the story of the Underground Railroad would get picked up and/or given another platform for it to be highlighted. There have been various showings about this amazing movement in a few mainstream and independent (Underground Railroad: The William Still Story [2012]; Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad [1994]; Harriet [2019]; The North Star [2016]; Woman called Moses [1978]; Freedom [2014]). So it very refreshing to see a modern, compelling take on this early to mid-19th century network of secret routes and safe houses.

Check out the trailers below that help set-up the series!

“In Aeternum”

Now what you will find captivating about “In Aeternum” is that it plays in reverse. According to Jenkins (via Twitter), “They say history is written by the victors, so… let’s run it back” (for a more detailed response see here).  

“Randall. Cora Randall”
“Speak upon the ashes”
“Preamble”

The Underground Railroad is set to stream later this year!!

**Sidenote: Let me also say Amazon Prime Video has been on a roll with their original television shows and movies….Sylvie’s Love [2020], One Night in a Miami [2020], The Wilds [2020], Flack [2021], Bosch [2015], The Boys [2019], just to name a few!

Posted in On The Radar

On The Radar

A Celebration of Black Joy and Black Life…”A Beautiful Resistance”!!

Illustration by Paula Champagne (paulachampagne.com)

As we usher in a new administration and a new year, for Black folks in particular, it is important that we celebrate the wins, begin to heal from past traumas, acknowledge and fight the injustices but also not let them define us. As someone who teaches and engages with what is going on in society and the world (historically and culturally), it is important that we magnify our truths and avoid being pushed to the margins. A Beautiful Resistance does just that in a way that allows Black people and other people of color to tell their stories via a popular social media vehicle…Instagram!

Launched in November 2020, A Beautiful Resistance is a digital episodic series sponsored by The Boston Globe and led by cultural columnist Jeneé Osterheldt. Described as a series that “amplifies the truths of Black folk and other people of color living as their fullest selves in a region, in a country, set up to keep them from doing just that. Their joy is a form of resistance.”

We are more than police brutality and suffering. We can acknowledge injustice without being defined that way. Blackness is not a burden. Here, we tell our stories and our struggles, too, through the lens of love. We amplify the truths of Black folk and other people of color living as their fullest selves in a region, in a country, set up to keep them from doing just that. Their joy is a form of resistance. 

Watching many of these episodes is actually very encouraging and therapeutic! To watch the various stories being told, achievements recognized, and gain exposure to numerous Black creatives is quite timely and much needed.

To take a brief look at some of folks who are highlighted check out the trailer below:

When it is all said and done how do you use joy as resistance?

~Dr. G

Posted in Resources

Let’s Talk About Race-Black Lives Matter

Previously Posted on Happy Mama Happy Mini (June 2020)

Over the past few months, we have been struggling through a global pandemic—one that has disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities—while also trying to find some sense of comfort and happiness. However, we as country and even the world have recently witnessed a national outpouring of anger, frustration, passion, and protests in response to the ongoing pain of racial injustice and police brutality. With the recent national attention regarding the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, it is essential to create dialogues about these events and how we make meaning of them to invest in a better society. 

As stated by Black feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” Thus, as we continue to have discussion in our schools, churches, community events, and our homes it is important that we engage in these differences, while simultaneously equipping ourselves and others. Having the knowledge can lead to fruitful conversation and some sort of change. 

This knowledge can be found in a variety of resources, tools, books, films/documentaries, and community efforts. 

Below you will see a guide that seeks to equip us with the knowledge in hopes to bring about change: 

Multimedia

Graphic Novels/YA/Children’s Books

  • Dear Martin (2017) ~Nic Stone
  • The Poet X (2018) ~Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Bayou (2009) ~Jeremy Love
  • Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice (2018) ~Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins,and Ann Hazzard
  • Saturday (2019) ~Oge Mara
  • The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist (2017) ~Cynthia Levinson
  • Each Kindness (2012) ~Jacqueline Woodson
  • “Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice” (2018) ~Veronica Chambers
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (2020) ~Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
  • Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation (2020) ~Damian Duffy & John Jennings
  • March [Trilogy] (2016) ~John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
  • The Hate U Give (2017) ~Angie Thomas
  • ‘Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans’ ~Roland Laird w/Taneshia Nash
  • Skin Like Mine (2016) ~LaTashia M. Perry
  • I Am Enough (2018) ~Grace Byers
  • Hair Love (2019) ~Matthew Cherry
  • Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History (2017) & Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History (2019) ~Vashti Harrison

Films/Documentaries

  • I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
  • Race (2016)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Fruitvale Station (2013)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
  • Selma (2014)
  • The Hate You Give (2018)
  • Pariah (2011)
  • Get Out (2017)
  • Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland (2018)
  • Dear White People [Film (2014) & Netflix series (2017-2021)]
  • 13th (2016) [Netflix]
  • When They See Us (2019) [Netflix]
  • Seven Seconds (2018) [Netflix]
  • Time: The Kalief Browder Story [Netflix]
  • See You Yesterday (2019) [Netflix]

Books

  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (2016) ~Carol Anderson
  • How to Be An Antiracist (2019) ~Ibram X. Kendi
  • Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (2018) ~Monique Morris
  • From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (2016) ~Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
  • Between the World and Me (2015) ~Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • So you want talk about race (2019) ~Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism (2018) ~Robin Diangelo
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race (2017) ~Beverly D. Tatum
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Colorblindness (2020) ~Michelle Alexander
  • Parable of the Sower (1993) ~Octavia E. Butler  
  • ‘Choke Hold’: Policing Black Men (2018) ~Paul Butler
  • Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) ~Claudia Rankine
  • Bad Feminist (2014 ) ~Roxane Gay
  • Heavy: An American Memoir (2019) ~Kiese Laymon
  • Racism Without Racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of Racial Inequality in America (2017) ~Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (2018) ~Richard Rothstein
  • No Ashes in the Fire (2019) ~Darnell L. Moore
  • ‘When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir’ (2020) ~Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
  • ‘Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower’ (2019) ~Brittney Cooper
  • ‘Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism’ (2018) ~Safiya Umoja Noble

This is not an end all, be all list, but meant to ignite and continue dialogues that can be difficult, but are very necessary. Hopefully, this list will also lead to the creation of building other resource guides that can be used in the fight against anti-Blackness and anti-racism. 

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” ~Ella Baker