The Greatest

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                           Muhammad Ali (l.) and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (r.) in Louisville                                 (AP Photo via The Nation)

“Like Muhammad Ali puts it, we are all—black and brown and poor—victims of the same system of oppression.” – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali! Mainstream media continues to revere him for his extraordinary achievements as an athlete and his influential oratory style (How many of us have alleged to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”?).  However, Ali is beloved to the progressive community and the African diaspora for his candid criticism of racial discrimination and poverty as well as his refusal to be inducted in the US Army during the Vietnam War due to his religious beliefs.  Ali could have exercised his class privilege, entered the army and fought entertaining exhibition bouts without ever being in any physical danger.  Instead, he chose to take a principled stand which in the short run cost him millions of dollars and some of his peak years as a boxing champion.  In the long run, Ali’s example made him a legend.

To learn more about Muhammad Ali, see the Academy Award-winning film When we Were Kings, or read this Dave Zirin article in The Nation.

Black and Cuba Scene Study: Africa is a Part of Our Being

Director Dr. Robin J. Hayes highlights an interview with Carlos Lloga on what it means to be AfroCuban.

Want to learn more? Click HERE to watch Black and Cuba in full, or check out BlackandCuba.org if you are an educator looking to screen the film at your institution.

Black and Cuba Scene Study: Monument to the Maroons

Director Dr. Robin J. Hayes discusses the historical and cultural significance of the Monument to the Maroons.

Want to learn more? Click HERE to watch Black and Cuba in full, or check out BlackandCuba.org if you are an educator looking to screen the film at your institution.

Black and Cuba Scene Study: Missing Link

Director Dr. Robin J. Hayes describes the the travelers’ motivations for journeying to Cuba.

Want to learn more? Click HERE to watch Black and Cuba in full, or check out BlackandCuba.org if you are an educator looking to screen the film at your institution.

Andrea Smith, Rachel Dolezal and Reading Realness

(from l. to r.) Rachel Dolezal, Dorian Corey and Andrea Smith

(from l. to r.) Rachel Dolezal, Dorian Corey and Andrea Smith

I am, in the words of Black twitter, #ActualBlack.  I say this not to endorse “identity policing” but to point out:

  1. I have parents, grandparents and great grandparents who were forced to cope with the following forms of White supremacy (in chronological order): the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, lynching, segregation, mass incarceration, and microaggressions.
  2. My body, skin, hair, voice, accent (or lack of accent), sashay, and personal aesthetics are to some degree disturbing in all public and private institutions (except for prisons and the morgue).
  3. I did not sign up for this club, but I am proud to be a member.

In all seriousness,  I have been thinking a lot about  the question: Why has the outing of Rachel Dolezal and Andrea Smith as  White – allegedly – caused such a sensation?

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Can a Documentary Change the World?

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Black and Cuba director Robin J. Hayes discusses “Socially Engaged Art as a Tool for Social Justice” at UnionDocs Socially Engaged Documentary Art Seminar Sunday June 21, 2015 10:30am 322 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211. For filmmakers, artists and cultural producers, the seminar offers vital information about the theory and practice of documentary making with a purpose. Tell them Progressive Pupil sent you and get 20% off conference registration with promocode SEDA15. Learn more at http://www.uniondocs.org/socially-engaged-documentary-art/.  Share with a friend who wants to make films for their communities.

Visionary Organizing

Grace Lee Boggs’ message to Occupy Wall Street from American Revolutionary.

At the age of 96, Chinese American grassroots activist, organizer, philosopher and author Grace Lee Boggs has more than seven decades of experience in Civil Rights activism, the Black Power movement, feminism, labor rights, Asian American rights, and environmental and food justice. Boggs, along with her husband and fellow activist, James Boggs, founded Detroit Summer — a multiracial, inter-generational collective based in Detroit. This collective has been working to transform communities through youth leadership, creativity and collective action for over 20 years.

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Today at 2pm EST: Black and Cuba Director Featured on New York’s WBAI

Hayes Photo 2014 10Dr. Robin J. Hayes, director of the award-winning documentary Black and Cuba will be on New York City’s WBAI today Tuesday April 14 at 2pm EST to discuss the film and “Feeling a Foreigner” on the Artsy Fartsy Show.  Listen live or download here.

Black Resistance Screening: The Waiting Room

It’s 9:30pm and you’ve been waiting in your local public emergency room for 6 hours. You have yet to see a doctor and don’t know when you will actually be able to. I’ve certainly been there on many occasions. As a student and a diabetic with limit financial resources and no insurance, New York City’s Bellevue Hospital is where I can receive care and very low-cost medication (insulin for $2…unheard of!). And so have millions of Americans. In today’s economy, many find themselves uninsured and without a primary care provider. Because of this, ER doctors wind up treating anything from a common cold, to serious complications. Unfortunately this has been an all too familiar scenario for many in underserved communities of color, where a trip to the ER seems more feasible for immediate treatment, than the expense of continual preventative care (regular check-ups, medical prescriptions, and supplies).
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“Black and Cuba” Now Streaming on Vimeo on Demand

The Harlem Chorus, narrators of Black and Cuba, following the Black studies tradition

                            The Harlem Chorus, narrators of Black and Cuba

The award-winning documentary Black and Cuba is now available for streaming.  The film follows street smart students who are outcast at their elite university, band together and adventure to Cuba, whose population is 60% Black.  Black and Cuba’s release comes on the heels of President Obama’s announcement that the US will thaw relations with Cuba and ease travel restrictions to the island.  See the film and see Cuba for yourself.  This weekend only, the filmmakers are offering a limited number of 10% discounts to subscribers in order to express their gratitude for your support.  Go to Vimeo on Demand and use the promo code SHAKUR15.