What does Activism do?

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Happy Black August!

AFROPUNK and Progressive Pupil are co-curating Activism Row: an interactive, inspirational and informative experience to be featured at AFROPUNK Fest 2014 (August 23 and 24 at Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn). Activism Row’s goals are to facilitate voter registration, inform youth about civic participation opportunities and to encourage the festival’s multicultural audience to envision themselves making a difference. Highlighting social justice as a work of art, Activism Row shows activism lives today in communities of color.

Today, Activism Row launched an Indigegogo campaign to raise funds for the costs associated with producing the festival, which include staff, signage and programs.  You can support this effort by making a tax-deductible contribution and sharing the link (http://igg.me/at/AFROPUNKActivismRow14) with your friends, family and colleagues. Rock star perks are available for your generosity including VIP passes to the festival, which features D’Angelo and Meshell Ndegeocello, a chance to get on stage and more.

Activism Row features local non-profits that advance racial equality by solving urgent community problems such as violence, mass incarceration and HIV/AIDS. In addition, voter registration will be available. On-line and in person, Activism Row will provide AFROPUNK’s audience—who are predominately youth—the empowering opportunity to see themselves as agents of social change. By showing #ActivismLives, this exciting exhibition reveals that the best time for social change is NOW!

I hope to see you later this month at AFROPUNK FEST.  If you have suggestions for organizations that should participate in Activism Row, please share at facebook.com/ProgressivePupil.

In solidarity,

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Robin J. Hayes, PhD

Principal Organizer

Instagram @robinjhayes

progressivepupil.org

facebook.com/progressivepupil

twitter.com/@PPupil

Victory of Vieques

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In April 2010 the W Hotel opened a Retreat & Spa on the beautiful island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Vieques now welcomes visitors from around the world… “Bienvenido a la Isla Bonita.”

From the W Hotel Website:

Lose yourself in the tranquil island life at this luxury Puerto Rico resort and let the stress of the every day recede with each wave. Frolic in our secluded natural haven and discover charmed island life amid lush landscapes. Starwood Preferred Guests can use their points to visit this luxury hotel and its white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Starwood Hotels & Resorts call it ‘a new way to escape’. You would never know from this that ten years earlier and less than 8 miles away, the US Navy was using this beautiful ‘island paradise’ as a practice range to test missiles, bombs, and other weapons.

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The Problems Are So Big. What Can I Do?

A young girl at a demonstration for the release of Nelson Mandela circa the 1960s. Photo courtesy of the ANC archives.

A young girl at a demonstration for the release of Nelson Mandela circa the 1960s. Photo courtesy of the ANC archives.

I am optimistic that we can create change because I meet so many people from different walks of life who ask me the same question: “What can I do?” Because they know I’m a Black studies professor and documentary filmmaker, many airplane seatmates, taxi drivers, the owner of the bodega around the corner, my friends who work in advertising and corporate law and other everyday people I encounter share their profound concerns about racial inequality with me. I don’t need to convince them that violence is causing a crisis in Black communities around the world, that there is not enough educational opportunity and health care access or that our prison system is unjust. They are well aware that the world needs to change, yet these same intelligent and capable folks are rarely involved in any organization that is trying to make a difference. They often ask me, “Robin, the problems are so big. What can I do?”

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See Yourself Clearly

Faces and Phases Exhibition.  South African lesbian artist Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of artnews.org

Faces and Phases Exhibition. South African lesbian artist Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of artnews.org

Is your nonprofit organizing an empowering local event? Is a neighborhood gallery or community-based museum exhibiting your art? Are you an independent filmmaker, writer or musician creating work that inspires and excites? Share your creativity and political action with us so we can share it with the world. Email community@progressivepupil.org a photo or video clip with a few words about your event, art exhibition or current project so that you and other progressive pupils can see your work clearly on our blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Commencements

Congratulations to our interns Rebecca Alvy and Alexis Hancock for earning their Master’s in Management from The New School.

Congratulations to our former interns Rebecca Alvy and Alexis Hancock for earning their Master’s in Management from The New School.

¡Viva Class of 2013! Progressive Pupil celebrates the achievements of graduates who are fighting for racial equality and human rights. Their diplomas and tassels symbolize the aspirations of many young people to learn and improve — aspirations that too few are able to fulfill. After the understandable euphoria of commencement settles into the reality of work life (or the reality of searching for work), I hope this cohort continues their commitment to making this dream possible for others.

At my own school’s commencement ceremony this year, I was reminded of the true value of an education. I watched with my fellow professors as each student grinned with anticipation of hearing their name, proudly shook the Dean’s hand and triumphantly posed with their degrees for a personal crowd of supporters who cheered and demanded poses for a camera. Afterward, my colleagues and I met our students’ parents, partners, aunts and cousins and for the first time connected faces to the life experiences students brought to our classrooms.

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Making it Home

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Photo courtesy of Global Fund for Women and Josh Warren-White.

In the United States – whether we are aware of it or not – domestic workers play a huge role in most of our lives. Some of us had nannies growing up, have relatives that work as in-home caretakers for elderly people, or babysat our way through college. Furthermore, 47 percent of Americans have used or would consider using household cleaning help. In any case, we know that these types of jobs require the employer to put the people and things they care about the most into the hands of another person. And yet, until recently, domestic workers had very few rights. While they work tirelessly to maintain homes and care for loved ones, they struggle to support their own families – living on low wages and often no health care. How is it possible that the basic rights of a group – totaling 1.8 million in the United States – could be disregarded for so many years?

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Love Black Studies? Then “Like,” “Follow” and “Click”

Ida B. Wells, journalist, editor, Civil Rights activist and suffragist. Photograph by Oscar B. Willis, courtesy of the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Ida B. Wells, journalist, editor, Civil Rights activist and suffragist. Photograph by Oscar B. Willis, courtesy of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Our Social Media Education and Outreach program is a big part of how we make Black studies for everybody. Rarely seen pieces by beloved artists, thrilling performances and fascinating facts about Black history are consistently featured on our Facebook page andTwitter feed.  There is also inspiring information about the work of grassroots organizations that are currently solving problems such as violence, lack of educational access and police misconduct in Black communities around the world.  “Like,” “Follow” and Click to make Black studies and progressive change a part of your everyday life.  It’s an easy way to be part of the solution.

Unity Among Legends

Yuri & Angela

Mountains that Take Wing is an intimate portrait of two revolutionary lives. The documentary follows activists Angela Davis and Yuri Kochiyama in a series of dialogues which trace their lifelong struggles against racism, oppression and violence. Topics range from the legacies of Japanese internment and Jim Crow segregation to their contemporary efforts to end prisons, poverty and imperialism.

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Fighting for a DREAM

Supporters of the DREAM Act rallied in Fresno, California on November 19, 2010. Photo courtesy of Mike Rhodes.

Supporters of the DREAM Act rallied in Fresno, California on November 19, 2010. Photo courtesy of Mike Rhodes.

Take a moment and imagine yourself at your dream college or university. You have worked extremely hard to get yourself to where you stand and are about to graduate. Your adviser, parents, close family and friends all commend you on your successes but there is one dilemma. You will have earned this degree with excellent grades and exceptional knowledge but you are undocumented, which will prevent you from joining the workforce.

Thousands of undocumented students graduate from high schools and colleges every year with hopes of a decent future. Their ineligibility to legally work and receive financial aid stalls, diverts and derails their educational and economic trajectories, often bringing their dreams, successes and ambitions to a screeching halt. Perhaps even more terrifying, these youth are fearful that they will be deported at any time to an unfamiliar country that most of them left when they were infants.

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Request Lines are Open

Don Cheadle, as legendary Washington DC activist and radio DJ Petey Greene in the 2007 film Talk to To Me.

Your voice is important and powerful. We want you to be heard. Want us to spread the word about your great nonprofit or activist collective? Any Black studies questions you’d like us to answer?  Would you like Progressive Pupil to share your art, poetry or upcoming film screening? Our request lines are always open.

Get in touch so we can share more of what you need on the Progressive Pupil’s blog and social media. You can reach us by leaving a comment or by emailing us at progressivepupil@beautifulmes.com. You can also let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter.

We are excited to hear from you. Your input is essential to our success.