Recognize

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 4.53.55 PM

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Between screening Black and Cuba and working on my new multi-platform project 9 GRAMS, I’ve spent some time this summer thinking about the Black woman’s image.  Of course in one way or another I’ve been thinking about it my entire life by looking in the mirror and beholding the relentless glamour of my mother and grandmother while I was growing up. In creating films that center Black women’s perspectives and – frankly- a lifetime of struggling to valorize my own, I’ve come to realize the most empowering and aesthetically beautiful representations of Black women are the ones we create ourselves.

Pages: 1 2

One Billion Rising

The One Billion Rising for Justice Campaign called on women and men from around the world to rise up and dance for justice! Last year on Valentine’s Day, over one billion people in 207 countries gathered together, demanding an end to violence against women and girls. This movement aims to create global solidarity between women’s organizations in various countries and to build a supportive sisterhood amongst women around the world. This event makes sure that violence against women is impossible to ignore; creating a safe and free space for violated women to tell their stories and healing their trauma by dancing in public, open spaces.

(more…)

Walter & Albertina Sisulu: A Revolutionary Couple

2744908-3x2-940x627

Photo courtesy of abc.net

Love can inspire more than romance – it can inspire activism that lasts a lifetime. Walter and Albertina Sisulu met in a hospital in Johannesburg in 1941. Albertina, a name she chose from a list provided by nuns at her school, chose a professional path rather than early marriage, and was working as a nurse at the hospital at the time she met Walter. A young activist, Walter had joined the African National Congress in 1940 – and together with his wife and their four children spent a lifetime fighting for human rights and against apartheid in South Africa.

(more…)

The Future of the ANC

Artist Paul Blomkamp’s portrait of Mandela that was painted to celebrate his 95th birthday

Artist Paul Blomkamp’s portrait of Mandela that was painted to celebrate his 95th birthday

With the recent news of Nelson Mandela’s death, I’ve been thinking a lot about the friends I made while I was in South Africa and what he may have meant to them, and to their country as a whole.  I can’t claim any true understanding of their perception of him as a leader and political figure; opinions are opinions, after all.  However, during this time, I’ve begun wondering what his passing will mean for his political party, and perhaps more importantly where his political party stands in the country these days.

(more…)

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

A Tale of Two Abuses

This photo of a man being arrested was taken on March 13, 2013 during a protest against the shooting of Kimani Gray. The photo is courtesy of Press TV and accessed via their Facebook Page

This photo of a man being arrested was taken on March 13, 2013 during a protest against the shooting of Kimani Gray. The photo is courtesy of Press TV and accessed via their Facebook Page

After visiting the country for two months last year, I decided to move to Cape Town, South Africa after completing my Masters at The New School. One of the reasons I decided to make this international move was that  it was easy for me to see how the struggle for change within Black and Brown communities in the States and the struggle for true freedom here in South Africa are so connected. I marveled at the similarities of experience. While people of color may be in very different lanes economically, the likeness between the two countries comes from a close-knit beginning. The colonization of both Cape Town and New York began with the Dutch East India Company settlements only 25 years apart. Beyond this, the sharing of ideas regarding discrimination and subjugation between the South Africa and the United States – from business development to urban planning to laws – has been historically commonplace. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960 in the United States and the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa along with the historical impact of the Harlem Renaissance and Négritude Movement in Francophone Africa helped produce the work of notable change-makers like Steve BikoMamphela Ramphele and Barney Pityana. Even the marriage between Miriam Makeba and Stokely Carmichael was symbolic of the synergy between the two countries and the continuing feelings of discontent caused by racial injustice. Following the successes of the Civil Rights Movement and the liberation of South Africa from apartheid rule, people from both sides seem to forget that everything is not rainbows and sunshine and that there is still a need for further reform.

And yet in 2013, we have the case of Kimani Gray in Brooklyn and Mido Macia in Daveyton, South Africa.

(more…)

From the Click in Xhosa, to the Pulse in House

A version of this post was originally published on March 7, 2012

My dearest Chicago, you are the architect for the house that jack built, but did you have any idea that your music was fueling the rage and resistance against apartheid? Did you know that this electronic music created in your mama’s basement would become a part of the cultural fabric of one of the most historically complex places on earth? That house music is a part of the Mandelas’ (both Winnie and Nelson’s) cultural vocabulary?

Many a house head in the U.S. would like to believe we “discovered” house music in South Africa, when the truth is that house has had a home in South Africa long before we tuned in. Sort of like the pre-existing civilizations that Sertima suggested Came Before Columbus. But let’s be clear, it wasn’t that we didn’t care. We can use this moment in electronic music history to admit that not enough of us in the States received a reliable education about the contemporary cultural developments of Africa. And at the risk of sounding like an Intro to Afro-centric Studies course, we’ve learned a great deal about Africa through the lens of the white supremacists who sought the resources of Africa (both human and natural) to help institutionalize their superiority. But today, we need to know better.

Women’s Rights Peace Party, South Africa. Photo taken by dj lynnee denise.

(more…)

Thank you for Making this Past Year Such a Success

The staff of Progressive Pupil from left to right: Community Outreach Intern Rebecca Alvy; Digital Cultures Intern Alexis Hancock; Principal Organizer Robin J. Hayes; Program Coordinator Vedan Anthony-North; Diasporic Engagement Intern Carmen Medina; Digital Cultures Intern Folashade Kornegay.

The staff of Progressive Pupil from left to right: Community Outreach Intern Rebecca Alvy; Digital Cultures Intern Alexis Hancock; Principal Organizer Robin J. Hayes; Program Coordinator Vedan Anthony-North; Diasporic Engagement Intern Carmen Medina; Digital Cultures Intern Folashade Kornegay.

This past year at Progressive Pupil has been an incredible one; our staff has more than doubled, we launched two major fundraising campaigns which helped us raise over $4,000, we’ve established ourselves on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and we’ve made major strides in completing our first feature length documentary, Black and Cuba.

With this growth, we also need time to reflect and see what has worked and what needs a bit more focus. For the months of July and August, Progressive Pupil staff members will be engaging in an Enrichment Retreat, which will include travels to South Africa, Brazil and Ghana. Unfortunately, given this schedule we won’t be able to blog as frequently. We encourage you to continue checking our blog though, as we will be reblogging our “Greatest Hits” from the past year.

(more…)

From the Click in Xhosa, to the Pulse in House

My dearest Chicago, you are the architect for the house that jack built, but did you have any idea that your music was fueling the rage and resistance against apartheid? Did you know that this electronic music created in your mama’s basement would become a part of the cultural fabric of one of the most historically complex places on earth? That house music is a part of the Mandelas’ (both Winnie and Nelson’s) cultural vocabulary?

Many a house head in the U.S. would like to believe we “discovered” house music in South Africa, when the truth is that house has had a home in South Africa long before we tuned in. Sort of like the pre-existing civilizations that Sertima suggested Came Before Columbus. But let’s be clear, it wasn’t that we didn’t care. We can use this moment in electronic music history to admit that not enough of us in the States received a reliable education about the contemporary cultural developments of Africa. And at the risk of sounding like an Intro to Afro-centric Studies course, we’ve learned a great deal about Africa through the lens of the white supremacists who sought the resources of Africa (both human and natural) to help institutionalize their superiority. But today, we need to know better.

(more…)