Posted in A Professor's Thoughts...

Year 2!! The Journey Continues….New Semester, New Beginnings…

Well today is the day!! Year 2 as an Assistant Professor in African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)!!

Last year was one definitely to remember…I had just moved to Richmond in the middle of a pandemic, VCU had pretty much asked professors and instructors to change their formats for teaching, and my apartment became not a just a place of residence but also a work place. This year, while there is still a pandemic, people are getting vaccinated, students are returning to campus, and majority of the classes are in-person (with mask requirements). The in-person part is really exciting to me because I thrive off being able to see my students live and in living color, it just feeds the soul!!

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So this semester, my teaching schedule has one new addition! I have the privilege of teaching the Capstone Seminar course for Africana Studies students and I will also teach the Theories and Foundations in Africana Studies course for the second year! The Capstone Seminar course is definitely going to be a new venture for me as I will be guiding students through a semester long research project. It’s more than just teaching but also serving as a guide for this major undertaking. I have always wanted the opportunity to serve as mentor and I feel like this will be great preparation. In addition to the teaching I have also been tasked with serving as the advisor for the “Black Excellence at VCU” organization for which I am pretty siked! All in all, I am very much looking forward to this Fall semester!!

Now as this new semester begins, I will be honest there are still butterflies in the stomach and a little nervousness, but it is to be expected. I strive to always give 110% to my work, my students, and myself so my daily prayer is that I find that balance with all three and just do my part in being the best person, scholar, and professor that I can be. My one main goal that I always have every semester is that my students leave my classes with at least one thing that they did not know prior to the course. It may seem simple and minimal, but major for me. That one new thing, idea, thought that a student leaves with can be a life-changer and to know that I may play a role in that is a huge accomplishment!

AUGUST 24th, 2021 the journey continues!!

And to all those who are starting today or have already started WELCOME BACK!! As the summer winds down and my favorite month comes to a close (SMILE), it is time to get back into the routine! Time to get those creative juices flowing again…Time to inspire, encourage, and motivate (teachers and students)…Time to make some new memories!!

So let’s blaze some trails and seek new horizons!!

Alright that’s enough for the first day, but make sure you stay tuned periodically for updates and check-ins, because trust me I GUARANTEE there will be some memorable moments shared!!

~Dr. G

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts...

A Professor’s Thoughts…

“First Week of Class…”

So I just finished my first week of class for the Spring 2021 semester here at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, and let me just say I am looking forward to an exciting semester!

This semester I get the pleasure of teaching one of my favorite classes, Black Sites and Sights: Blackness in Popular Culture. I have taught this course on multiple occasions and every semester it’s like uncovering a new treasure. The students always bring a ton of energy and not only do they learn things, push their thinking, and transform their thoughts; but, I also am able to reap some rewards.

One of things that I do to start out the semester is have the students complete a “Course Survey”. Included in this survey is a list of questions which include their top films/movies, favorite songs and artists, and one topic they would like to discuss this semester. As it relates to the songs and artists, I typically create a Course Playlist on Spotify. And let me tell you that compiling that playlist is like getting a new lesson in music. Now some of the artists I am familiar with not necessarily a fan of, some are even on one of my own personal playlists (i.e. Nas, Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, SZA, Jazmine Sullivan, J. Cole, D’Angelo, The Internet, and more) and then there are others who I am not as familiar with (i.e. Joji, M-83, Earthgang, Koi Childs, among others). Every semester that I teach this course I learn new artists and/or songs, and realize that my taste in music always adds a new flavor. Creating this playlist offers me an opportunity to look through my student’s eyes and ears, while at the same time understand what they vibe to through their AirPods.

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That’s just the beginning, because once the class really gets going the fireworks really go off. Once I gather the student’s preliminary information, then we dive in and start with the theorization of popular culture and its relationship to Blackness. This first week we covered everything from Audre Lorde’s “The Master’s Tools Cannot Dismantle the Master’s House,” bell hooks-“Loving Blackness as Political Resistance”, Stuart Hall’s-“What is This ‘Black’ in Black Popular Culture?”, and Angela Nelson’s-“The Repertoire of Black Popular Culture”. To no surprise my student’s were all in!! This was a good sign and great start to the semester!

Needless to say, this semester much like my personal and professional journey is a ride I am excited to be on! I very much look forward to what is ahead, and I am sure you will hear more stories as the semester progresses, so stay tuned!

Cheers to a new semester!!

~Dr. G