courtesy of the Kieth Haring Foundation

courtesy of the Kieth Haring Foundation

 December 1 is World AIDS Day, a great occasion to step up your efforts to stop AIDS in Black communities in the US and internationally.


Happy Thanksgiving?

We’ve talked a lot about genocide and cruelty this month (and most months) here at Progressive Pupil. We don’t like to shy away from the truth and the fact of the matter is that American history particularly that of the indigenous peoples of this land is pretty grizzly if not outright horrifying. It’s important to us that our readers and followers have the most complete and honest understanding of history that we can offer. In spite of all of the atrocities that this country’s seen we should all hold one truth dear: At some point someone discovered gravy and it was delicious.  Gravy is still pure (if you don’t mind the salt). Gravy is still pure. I know I’m grateful.

by Justin Jones

South Bronx Teacher Explains “Black and Cuba” is Essential

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This past May, Progressive Pupil held a Work-in-Progress screening of “Black and Cuba” at Aspire Preparatory School, a charter school located in the South Bronx. Aspire is made up of a large student body with about 100% Black and Latino youth. Our film was shown to 7th and 8th grade students in Uraline Hager’s special education class. In this video, Ms. Hager addresses her thoughts on “Black and Cuba” to parents and teachers. She specifically speaks about the significance of showing this film to young students of color, and how “Black and Cuba” can be an educational tool for youth that helps them connect to real world issues they are faced with that are ironically not taught in the classroom.


The State of Native American Education


The current education climate is devastating the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) community. Historically, the group has suffered from various education reforms targeted specifically for their cultural group. Recent research suggests today’s education system has done little to help the AI/AN population. AI/AN students have seen poor improvements in several education achievement indicators (graduation rates, achievement gap, drop out rates, NAEP scores). Just as these education indicators highlight the devastating results the AI/AN population experiences, other social measures show an even more complete picture of how the education system is disproportionately effective to different groups.


Women’s Land Rights in South Africa

For indigenous communities around the world, securing land rights is a critical issue. In South Africa, many women are denied access to land. As the post-apartheid government struggles to resolve entrenched social and economic inequalities, women throughout South Africa are fighting to make their voices heard.

by Courtney Cook, Talia Pedraza and Joy Gardner

Glossary: Settler Colonialism

indian-grave-wounded-kneeSettler colonialism is the act of moving in and taking over. Wikipedia defines the term as a “specific colonial formation whereby foreign family units move into a region and reproduce.” Settler colonialism contains two distinct parts: migration and displacement through power. According to the writers at, not all people who migrate are colonizing settlers. Instead, “Settlers come to stay…They are founders of political orders who carry with them a distinct sovereign capacity. And settler colonialism is not colonialism: settlers want Indigenous people to vanish (but can make use of their labour before they are made to disappear).”


Freedmen’s Children and Racism in the Cherokee Nation

Rena Logan with her Cherokee Nation identification card. Photo courtesy of

Rena Logan with her Cherokee Nation identification card. Photo courtesy of

African and Native American peoples came together in the Americas because of colonization and slavery. Over centuries, Black people and Native Americans created shared histories, communities, families, and ways of life. They were joined in a struggle against prejudice, laws, and twists of history. Earlier in the colonial period some Native Americans were enslaved alongside Africans. Later on, select tribes harbored runaway slaves where intermarriage and the joining of cultures gave way to new and interesting communities of African American and Native people. There are still Blacks today who enjoy Indian citizenship and celebrate their mixed heritage, however, one group has been stripped of that right. In 2007 The Cherokee Nation decided to limit its membership to people who can prove they have Indian blood. This took away the citizenship rights of about 2,800 Black Americans who are descendants of slaves once owned by wealthy Cherokees.


Sugar–Not Just Another Sports Drama


The movie “Sugar” follows Miguel Santos, a.k.a. ‘Sugar’ on his journey from the Dominican Republic baseball academy to the United States’ minor leagues and his move to New York City. Before watching the movie, I thought it would be just another sports drama but just minutes in it becomes clear that baseball is secondary to the real story of the movie. “Sugar” displays,  in great detail, the difficulties that Santos faces while being in the United States. Despite the efforts of his host family to make him feel at home, and his one teammate from the Dominican Republic, Miguel doesn’t feel welcome in this new world where he does not speak the language fluently. As an immigrant to the United States, I can relate to some degree to the challenges that Miguel faced every day.


They Came Before Columbus


Photo courtesy of

Ivan Van Sertima was a literary critic, linguist, anthropologist, and the author of the Holte Prize winning book They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America. Van Sertima believed that mariners from West African nations such as Ghana, Mali, and Songhay landed in North America long before any European and had a persistently ignored influence on Indigenous American culture.


Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage

“I got Indian in my family” is a phrase not foreign to Black folks, especially Southerners. It quickly rolls off the tongue as an explanation for phenotypic attributes such as keen noses, high cheekbones or “good hair.” Often dismissed as cliché, the notion is brushed off as foolish banter, but once upon a time Native American and Black communities did merge. With everyone so quick to claim “Indian blood” has anyone really questioned why and how this historic alliance came to be and why it dissolved?

William Loren Katz, a former public school teacher, wrote Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage to turn one dimensional accounts on their heads, shine a light of shame on American “heroes”and fill in where the blatant omission of textbooks fail us. While it is an insightful read targeted at middle and high schoolers, don’t be ashamed to walk into the young adult literature section of your local bookstore or library and pick it up. This factual work is a great resource for adults who have been deprived of this history, too!