James Rucker was one of the many progressive activists, technologists and journalists who descended upon Providence June 7-10 for Netroots Nation. For many attendees, this was possibly the most important year for political online activism, as the presidential election heats up between President Obama and Republican candidate Gov. Mitt Romney.
Issa Rae, the creator and star of the hit web series, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, was a speaker at the first annual “Black Women in America” conference Feb. 25. The sudden success of “Awkward Black Girl” says a lot about not only the potential of viral video and good old-fashioned word of mouth, but also a growing desire among people of color to see better portrayals of their communities in the media.
Bunker Hill Community College held the opening reception Feb. 9 for its latest exhibit “That’s a Fact: Young, Gifted and Black.” Many of the area’s best and brightest artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers and photographers were invited to display and celebrate their art. It was exciting to attend because it almost looked like a modern day Harlem Renaissance gathering.
During the 1920s and 1930s many African-Americans moved to the North as part of the Great Migration. Many of those migrants had creative aspirations and made their way to Harlem. These artists used their work to express the new black identity; many of them influenced by self-determination, the Jazz Age and the racial bigotry of the time. Like their Harlem forefathers, the young artists in this exhibit are expressing their own black identity, only this time their influences are hip-hop culture and their pride in having a black man in the White House.
I recently had a chance to go back to my alma mater Emerson College to speak to some current students of color about the state of race relations on campus. The four students in the video are executive board members of Emerson’s Black Organization with Natural Interests (EBONI). In recent years, the school has been plagued with accusations of subtle racism and lacking racial diversity among its faculty and student body.
A couple of years ago, two black professors accused Emerson of denying them tenure because of their race. Up until that time, Emerson College had only granted tenure to just three black professors in its 129-year history. There have also been many claims by students of color over the years that they didn’t feel welcomed by their white counterparts on campus.