The State of African American and African Diaspora Studies conference – Schomberg Center

These words are my summary notes from the plenary panel session at the end of the proceedings.

 

State of African American Studies

Closing Plenary

Dr. Walter Greason, Ph.D.

8 January 2011

 

Looking into the Crystal Ball: The Future of African American and African Diaspora Studies, Challenges and Prospects

Moderator: Lillie Edwards

 

Molefi Asante

He begins with an acknowledgement of ancestors and praise to Eshu (orisha of his birth).  Respect to honored panelists and audience members.  Attention to the crisis in Arizona surrounding ethnic studies – is Black Studies affected?  No – why not?  Are we doing the work we set out to do?  There are only 10 Ph.D. programs nationwide.  Some are lost in the thicket of post-modernism.  I am a practicing African committed to the betterment of humanity.  Nod to National Council of Black Studies and the Cheikh Anta Diop conferences in confronting the topic of this event.  Settling the disciplinary question – Africology is claimed by some who are unfamiliar with the theoretical framework of the discipline.  Darlene Clark Hine argues that the debate is unsettled about whether this area is a discipline or a field.  How can we maintain the field when so many fear traditional disciplinary suicide?  Hearsay and rumor carry too much sway in the debate over fundamental issues.  Afro-Asian authors have no expertise in Africology – a just symbol of the larger problems.  Sociologists and historians were among the first to resist and deny the legitimacy of African American Studies.  The discipline must always be global.  Rural areas of South American countries like Venezuela are nearly 90% African-descended – we must pay careful attention to these regions around the world.  New generations must re-energize the traditions that have built the discipline.  Where are our independent institutions?  Do not rely on an infrastructure of white institutions. Many departments do not have discipline – are Africans referred to as tribes or ethnicities?

 

 

Michael Gomez

There is a room for expansion in the framework of both African American and African Diaspora Studies.  The continued focus on the Atlantic world is problematic, even as it has grown from a preoccupation with North America and the Caribbean.    Be global by including Europe, Asia, India, and the ‘middle east.’  There is reward in the study of other disciplines to contribute to the methodological growth of African Diaspora studies.  Dealing with textured identities and layered meaning will enliven the discipline.  More insight from the various scientific fields is needed for true interdisciplinarity.  What is the biological/neurological process of memorization? –for instance – We need to engage these kinds of questions more aggressively.  The time may have come to re-connect with African Studies in a way to develop a more accurate body of common knowledge – at least for the process of policy formation.  My passion lies in the organization of Africans – what can scholars contribute to that process?  Asante refers to ‘think tanks’ – we need to develop formal, well-funded institutions that will impact globalization in the twenty-first century.  This work is an extension of the Organization for African American Unity, but it should complement the African Union  as well reflect thoughtfully on our condition.

 

Tricia Rose

There is a tension between preservationist and transformationalist impulses in this discipline.  When you’re under siege, you must preserve yourself.  (survival)  Let’s push that to transformation.  We cannot become comfortable where we are.  New ways of seeing sometimes require us to leave things behind.  It is uncomfortable position for those who have lost so much.    The political state of education in the world is DIRE.  Arizona is one example of a movement that will move into many other arenas.  Public education is currently designed to consolidate power to the very few (through consumerism).  The battle is in K-12 education where students are STARVING for energy and skill.  Can we engage families and their students in grades 4 through 10 to provide more support and justification for our political urgency?  Now, we need to gender individuals and systems from whichever disciplinary approach we endorse.  Black power is not a reassertion of black patriarchy.  Ask gendered and sexual questions all the time.  Resistance vindication must account for black behaviors’ inclusion in commercialized mass culture.   What does resistance look like now?   Take technology seriously all day and every day.  It is difficult and slippery, but our determination must be equal to the task.  Make the digital resources attractive and available to mass audiences.  Do not allow the academy to marginalize available knowledge either implicitly and explicitly.

 

 

Howard Dodson

Thanks to everyone – especially for the hard talk, and the long talk.  The future of this field is very dear to me.  I’ve been involved since 1969.  It started out as a way to save myself from a profound sense of depression after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  I left the country for a year, trying to read myself back into sanity.  This conference is a new beginning of my involvement in this field.  The Schomberg “In Motion” website focuses on African American migration.  It was a digital representation of African American studies as the foundation, not the total sum, of Black Studies.  Thirteen migrations in black history, and only two were forced migrations.  Every act of migration is an act of individual and collective agency.  When black people assemble in any significant numbers, it changes everything that happens there.  South to north migration after 1520 changes the historical narrative of North American settlement.   The “In Motion” site possesses 25, 000 pages with supporting collections of photographs and primary source documents.  Schomberg studies of the black experience put together 30 volumes on major themes online with critical responses.  We are still living colonial lives in a post-colonial world.  Our liberation must first be intellectual.  Or we will continue to live the lives that others have planned for us.

Show and Prove: Hip Hop Studies conference review

Just my notes and thoughts from an amazing event …

 

Show and Prove conference review

NYU

Dr. Walter Greason, Ph.D.

 

17 September 2010

 

 

Session I – “Methodology, Pedagogy, and Educational Practice”

MiRi Park (Seoulsonyk) –

Using Academic Oral History Methodology in Hip Hop Scholarship

Adding her experience as Korean suburbanite from NJ (!); good interdisciplinary context; explanation about the importance of women’s experience in b-boy/breaking culture; no recognition of intersectionality to explain the multi-layered lenses of disciplinarity and the plurality of hip hop; “Honey Rockwell – Jam on the Groove” 1st hip hop off-broadway show; musicality and subtlety of hip hop dance; ‘when the person looks like the song what do you do?’; ‘he knew every song’ – the discipline (!); theory of oral history is underdeveloped / needs to reference OHA and Donald Ritchie (post-colonialist methodology?); importance of transgression and the acceptance of social sanction (punishment) as a rite of passage into the culture of hip hop; “Fox Force Five” … .

 

Jen Johnson

Hip Hop in Competitive Academic Policy Debate

(cultural resistance, code-switching, and speaking truth to power)

Opening clip on in-class rap performance; incorporate the switch between formal presentation and lyrical flow … fascinating how the styles of each frame informed each other; debate as unique and informative (applications to forensics at UC … Nina LaTassa); urban debate leagues (UDLs) and their success … application through the Bridge program; impact on shaping state institutions and regional/national ideologies; “Eurocentric/heteronormative”; use of Tim Wise to establish privilege; counterhegemonic rhetoric and ideology isolates itself from the process of reform; its revolutionary orientation falls short, however, of the goals of total transformation of the opposition or its elimination; use of James Scott’s ‘public transcript’ to explain the ‘greater the oppressive/exploitative threat, the thicker the mask’ thus the mimicry of traditional norms among UDL achievers;  Louisville and the Malcolm X debate program; impact on Johnson’s work in Seattle à encourage student to freestyle, University of Washington Hip Hop debate team; current moment of openness to redefine standards.

 

MC K-Swift

Hip Hop Contains Pedagogy

Cultural arts canon; mc/dj/grf/bboy/academy; Temple of Hip Hop (nine elements);   do not use hip hop as a tool, but engage hip hop as an epistemological process; how do we learn from art? (emphasis on reading, writing, arithmetic); KRS – One as primary example (hip is to know; hop is to move … knowledge and movement are the culture); spiritual foundation and the gospel of hip hop; all discipline orientation; Afrika Bambataa offered conception for hip hop as a set of elemental expressions;  ten principles of academic hip hop (relativity; plausibility; kinesthetics; spirituality; praxis/performance; integrity; critical systems theory; geography; sustainable economics); Urban word – NYC … student centered writing and learning methods; first born generation of hip hop (1973-1985) – ‘planet rock’ was a song that gave him words; immediate family access to artist was a fresh privilege; if you’re in a gang, you’re a chump; prep school v projects … identity crisis, resolved by belonging in the hip hop studio;  hip hop is my leading cultural institution; rap is ‘speaking with agility and quick wit’.

 

Johan Soderman

Academic Rap

(incorporating hip hop culture at the university)

Swedish rhythm and pronunciation (SER-der-man); “New Swedes” v “Non-Swedes” in the political discussion of Swedish cultures; when there will be protest violence due to racial/immigration tensions throughout Europe; absence of national/regional organization to advocate for reform?; new Swedes use traditional linguistics to challenge the hegemonic norms; hip hop following the norms of gender studies to gain entrance to the academy; Madison-Wisconsin and NYU as pioneers of hip hop studies; conflict between arts (culture) and the mind (reason); authenticity as an extension of this debate; Homo Academicus as analysis of administrative and academic power in the university; neoliberal transformation of student to customer and the university as a marketplace;  linking NYU, UPenn, and University of Maryland in megapolitan hip hop collaborative; discourse is about diversity … consensus involves discussion from bothe ends; jazz became a ‘high art’ as a path through the academy; can these academic approaches democratize the university and society?

 

Relationship, relevance, and rigor from the Gates foundation.

 

Session II – Engaging Hip Hop’s Global Context

Community Discussion ~ Kanene Holden

  • Politics and economics of systemic growth and community revitalization
  • Is there a hip hop diaspora?
  • Videos … China, Arctic – Canada, Palestine
  • Hip hop overcomes isolation and exploitation; self-determination at the

Heart of the process and experience

  • Jamaica, Queens and Brooklyn as the foundation of hip hop, not the Bronx in the late 1960s/early 1970s
  • No centralized location/organization; disseminate, categorize, critique/evaluate; ensure sustainability; cross-cultural dialogue; distribute curriculum
  • Vision/mission … hip hop education center will fulfill the purpose
    • Online marketplace to purchase quality hip hop media
    • Online platform to upload new content  and cultivate cross-cultural dialogue
    • Showcase positive effects of hip hop’s globalization
    • Hip Hop Odyssey Film Festival 2011
    • Research and pedagogy

 

  • Culture vultures who seek profit at the expense of the local people
    • Avoid the loss of history
  • Coordinating the Education Center in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland/Pittsburgh, St. Louis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC
    • Global locations: Hong Kong, Manila, Delhi, Beijing, Capetown, London, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Rio, Bahia, Mexico City, Toronto, Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, Accra, Dubai, Nairobi
  • Constituent populations … educators, anthropologists, ethnographers, sociologists, psychologists, media contacts, politicians, curators/art admins
  • CPC … daycare (7am-3pm); supplemental ed (3pm-9pm); studio/club (9pm-7am)
  • Needs graduate students and volunteers to archive over 600 media units (overlap with WBL, California U., UPenn, CPC, Davey D, various YouTube archivists BVMUnderground, wgreason)
  • Close with PE “Fight the Power” romanticism for the 1980s/early 1990s.
  • Moved youtube plugs to BVM, Jimmy Kim, and Briana Morrissey.
  • Be sure there is wireless/phone access to reach the poorest areas/families
  • Steinhardt (??) Hall
  • Thinktank in 2011
  • Relate this conference and its proceedings to the end of the History 362 course this semester.
  • Amy, artistic director street dance, … how are the resources being developed for the web? Multilingual, global scope?
  • Sameena, undergrad at Columbia … the scope of global hip hop, but the commodification of international artists stymies more effective collaborations
  • Use of scaffolding to inspire deep learning
  • Fred Sanchez, LA – college access … student inspired him to the power of spoken word; 1st year student in graduate program at Steinhardt; emphasizing Mexican students to see education as a tool to inspire (Jesus Aldaverde?); religious fanaticism around death; hip hop as effective pedagogy … what impact does h2ed have as making hip hop wack in the underground?
  • The gathering … Philadelphia Lincoln U connection on longest running continuous performance education events; quality control and stockpiling success stories – push people in new directions; theory of aesthetic adaptation
  • Joe, London … developing new hip hop education practice (fresh prep program); rare opportunity to share strategies with other practitioners; avoid categorization; how wide and broad is the project and how will satellite destinations participate?  Can we use the master’s tools to dismantle the house of privilege?

Session III – The Tensions, Contradictions, and Possibilities of Hip Hop Studies

Shante Smalls, MC Paradigm

Theorizing about the content and limitations of hip hop; construction of black masculinity (Jay Z) and femininity (Jean Grae) (as well as Afro-Asian connections and queer culture in hip hop); experience as an mc led paradigm to graduate school.

 

Dr. David Kirkland

Why is there no institutional center for hip hop?  There are criticisms of hip hop that deny the problematic nature of the core assumptions and the entire global context of the art form and lifestyle (how do you deal with misogyny/commercialism/ materialism?).    The cipher as transformative classroom … condemned as ignorant and illiterate.  How are these young men literate?  In hip hop, they are literate.  Organic literacy approaches that emerged from literary analysis.  Canterbury Tales and Inferno as the language of the street.

 

Eden Jeffries

The absence of transformative content in the study of hip hop.  K-12 education does not value culture and renders it irrelevant to social discourse.  Connects hip hop and space – the geography does not limit its movement, creativity, or power.  The isolation from the space compounds traditional social misunderstandings and barriers.

 

Moncell “Ill Kosby” Durden

30 years of study rooted in the social dance of the 1970s.  Danced with Rennie Harris (more academic) and Mop Top Crew (more commercial) between 1990 and 2005?  Superficial nature of learning/copying instead of integrity and originality.  Cross-cultural communication is essential in the dance community.  New documentary – “everything we make is raw”.

 

Marcella Runell Hall (comment)

Hip hop is already in the academy (brought by students)

Institutional development of hip hop

? Faculty development using hip hop ?

                        ? Disparaging traditional fields that engage hip hop – anthropology,

                                    Education, and interdisciplinary study generally ?

 

Session 5 –

Engaging Untapped Resources: Oral Histories and New Perspectives on Hip Hop

Mariette “Peaches” Rodriguez

Sharing Paniccioli’s values, but rooted in the hip hop experiences of the 1980s.  She presents feminist criticism of the sexualization of women in videos.  Hip hop was not an umbrella description of emerging rap culture until the late 1980s.  The robot played on the influences of Bruce Lee’s kung fu to create the illusion of artificiality.  Misogyny made women stronger to fight for space and expression in its first two decades.

 

Ernie Paniccioli

Old left bonafides.  Paniccioli continues to fight the anti-imperialist fight to accuse a generation of failure without the accountability to demonstrate the failure of AIM, BPP and the success of the Cointelpro.  He offered a LiveAid story about the audience rejecting the political agenda about hunger in Ethiopia.  His views were mostly Marxian analysis.  He targets Nelly, Puffy, Jay Z, Russell Simmons, CashMoney / South.  He defends Luke.  His views relied on nihilistic fatalism about the failure of society and culture.  He offered promos for Mos Def, Technique, and Rebel Diaz.  Use hip hop to feed, instruct, and build.

Paniccioli was framed for listening devices for teaching yoga and tai chi.  Reference to Ernest Withers … attempts to suborn barbers to inform on their customers.  He mentioned Larry Davis and the CIA in the Dark Alliance.  He documented planting evidence and illegal substances, even through Navy service.  Recognizing the ways leaders are targeted. He discussed sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums.

 

Michael Premo

Gil Scott Heron poem, “The New Deal”

Socio-economic conditions that produced hip hop? Reference Kerner Commission on Civil Disorders.  Deindustrialization typically cited, but could the consolidation of the black middle class have incited the development of hip hop?  To wit, could hip hop have taken hold without the children of the black middle class in the 1980s and 1990s?  Not to mention, the preparation of white working and middle class children to reject the Cosby mass media image in favor of the gangster rap mythology framed by Rakim, Naughty by Nature, Dre, and Snoop.

 

Session 6 – The Tensions between Hip Hop and the Academy

Michael Holman

He commends the courage to engage in a public act of self-criticism as so many programs around the country have been established (Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Yale).  Most programs cannot tolerate the pioneers of the culture to test and evaluate the theorists about the emerging field.  There are not enough pioneers to serve on the various faculties around the world.  Hip hop will be around forever, but the pioneers will not be.

 

“Popmaster Fabel” Pabon

He has been part of experimental theater as an adjunct faculty member for the last 11 years.  It has been a strong commitment to support and maintain the position.  Universal Zulu Nation as the first hip hop academy.  Afrika B. offered “Infinity lessons” as an anthology of teachings that offered ‘knowledge of self.’  These opportunities directed the inquiry about who we are as a people.  Artists have to understand the importance of challenging the academic authorities through their conferences.  The establishment of values was always a fundamental principle in the work.  “Jam on the Groove” – 1st hip hop off-broadway musical.  Artists demanded community service as part of their national tour.

 

“Mare 139” Rodriguez

He opened with a discussion of his privilege to experience the birth of hip hop and its growth at one of its origin points.  The academy, while a healthy place to examine these processes, must abandon its arrogance about its importance to the development and authentication of western civilization.  Living an expressive life as an antidote to a repressive life.  He discussed the cynicism of renaming black studies as hip hop studies – the opportunism of the academy bankrupts the principles asserted by the culture.  Hip hop has never been exclusively black and the hip hop academy promotes that mythology.

The Path to Freedom returns to Rutgers University (Thursday, January 13, 2011)

Hi, everyone,

Here’s another one of my presentations — the first of 2011.  If you’re in the area (or can share this announcement with people who will be), it would be nice to have a crowd for the conversation.

Thanks!

Walt

 

 

Please join the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance on Thursday, January 13, for the 4:15pm public program at the Alexander Library’s Pane Room, 169 College Avenue, New Brunswick.  Walter Greason will present “The Path to Freedom:  Black Families in New Jersey.”

 

Parking passes for the College Avenue Deck are available by mail or email in advance of the program.

 

Information on the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance may be found at www.njsaa.org.

 

We hope to see you next week!!

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration 2011 (Metropolitan Philadelphia) : January 17-22, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Commemoration 2011

Schedule of Events

Events take place from Jan. 17 through Jan. 22, and include a candlelight vigil, keynote address, film, panel discussion, and performances. The event is sponsored by the Dean of Students Office and several departments and student organizations on the Ursinus campus.

The commemoration was created, in part, to reflect, discuss and plan ways to advance King’s vision. All events are free and open to the public without tickets or reservations.

 

Monday, Jan 17

Ecumenical ServiceNoon, Bomberger Hall

Meditation Chapel located on the Lower Level.

 

Candlelight Vigil  6pm.

It will begin at Unity House, closing with a procession to the College’s Olin Plaza

 

Keynote Address: Can You Hear the Sound of the Drum, Rev. Dr. Nikitah Okembe-RA Imani 7:30pm  Bomberger Hall

Dr. Martin Luther King in his own eulogy wrote that he was a “drum major for justice. What is the spiritual, cultural, and social significance of this moniker and how does it relate to how he wanted to be remembered?

Dr. Nikitah Okembe-RA Imani is an associate professor of sociology at James Madison University.  He is a veteran of more than 18 years of activism in Black nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements.  He has published a number of groundbreaking books including The Agony of Education: Black Students at a White University (Routledge 1996)

 

Tuesday, Jan 18th

Diversity Monologues

Lenfest Theater, The Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center  5pm

 

Come celebrate the creativity of Ursinus students as they perform monologues about their experiences of diversity and identity at Ursinus College.

 

The Diversity Monologues is a compilation of uncensored, open, and free monologues that are meant to share with the community how it feels to be different and to be themselves. The monologues are meant to foster a community ethos at Ursinus College that nurtures and appreciates diverse identities.

 

Wednesday, Jan 19

Panel Discussion: “Race and the Sciences”  

Musser Auditorium, Pfahler Hall, 12 noon – 1pm

 

with Dr. Mark Ellison, Chemistry; Dr. Rebecca Kohn, Biology; and Dr. Lew Riley, Physics

 

 

Film:  Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority (dir. Kimberlee Bassford, 2008)

Musser Auditorium, Pfahler Hall, 7pm

 

The film explores the life and career of Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of colorelected to Congress and co-author of Title IX, the landmark legislation that mandated gender equity in education and athletics. Petite in frame but a giant in vision and her quest for social justice, Mink tirelessly championed the rights of minorities, women, workers, the poor and disenfranchised throughout her more than 40 years of public service. As a Japanese-American woman, she parlayed experiences of racism and sexism into an unwavering commitment to civil rights, equal opportunity, education and peace. Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority reveals how this passionate woman broke through barriers, opened opportunities to women and minorities and engaged the political process to permanently alter the American social and cultural landscape.

 

Thursday, Jan 20

Freedom School

Olin Hall, 7pm-8pm

 

Classical Liberalism as the Foundation for Civil Rights

Join with Ursinus Faculty as they explore questions about the nature of freedom in Western societies over the last five centuries!” Dr. Susanna Throop, room 305; Dr. Paul Stern, room 108; Dr. Greg Weight, room 303, Prof. Rabia Harris, room 317

 

Friday, Jan 21

Lunch and Learn: Not for Profit

Bomberger Conference Room, Noon

Christian Rice leads a discussion of Martha C. Nussbaum’s Not for Profit:  Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Princeton University Press 2010).  Nussbaum’s work is a passionate defense of the value of a Humanistic education at a time when we increasingly treat education as though its primary goal were to teach students to be economically productive rather than to think critically and become knowledgeable and empathetic citizens.  Our nation is becoming more culturally diverse yet colleges and universities are cutting back on precisely the kind of programs that give students the capacity to be true democratic citizens of their countries and the world.

 

 

Saturday, Jan 22

The Substance of Our Soul, performance

Lenfest Theater, The Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center, 7pm

Ursinus students and alumni perform song, dance, music and oratory inspired by the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

Events sponsored by S.U.N., the Office of Multicultural Services, College Activities Board, Leadership Development & Student Activities, UCARE Dean of Students Office, Film Studies, and the UC Ambassador Program.

The Path to Freedom: a review

The Path To Freedom
The History Press, 2010
126 Pages, Paperback, $19.99
ISBN 978-1-59629-992-4
Non-Fiction

BUY IT – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/9781596299924/rawreviewers

RAW Rating: 5

THE PATH TO FREEDOM: Black Families in New Jersey is the story of four generations of suburban American families with wonderful photographs from the private collection of Nicy Marion Ham Russell, taken between 1935 and 1995. I really enjoyed this view of The Great Migration of black families to northeastern states such as New Jersey because we almost always hear about the migration to states like Illinois and Michigan.  Clearly folks migrated to other regions of the United States. Learning this makes this book and books like it very important as it documents history we would not learn about otherwise.

In chapter one “Early Migrants,” we meet the Ham and Russell families who merge to create the foundation for future generations. Chapter two “Family Life” presents what it was like to purchase a home or gather for a cookout and the risk folks took to do things we take for granted now. Chapter three “Church Occasions” speaks to the function of the church as core to the principles of the people who lived in the community because they created a foundation of morals, work and education. These are values I suggest we go back to as this book points out the successes of attendees. Chapter four “Free at Last” touches on Jim Crow and the dismantling of overt racism.  Chapter five “First Professionals” makes the point that black Americans, while making strides in employment, also spent a lot on consumer goods. Even today, it is suggested the current generation is misguided because as they indulge in the best of everything they have forgotten the sacrifices of people who laid the groundwork for them to have better lives.

The Path to Freedom: Black Families in New Jersey by Walter D Greason is a thought- provoking read of achievement and the realization of racial integration, that I highly recommend.

 

Reviewed by Linda Chavis

For The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers

Author’s Website: http://www.historypress.net/

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