Back to the Books

After a restful spring break, I am very happy to be back. There’s something about a week of relaxation and rejuvenation that jumpstarts my desire to learn more. Before that desire wears off and while motivation is still high, I want to share some great reads on race and racial justice that facilitates learning on the topic. 

The Huffington Post published an article of 16 books that every white person should read, but I think they are books all people should read. I want to share a few of my favorites from this list. 

1. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria – Beverly Daniel Tatum


Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? This book argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. 

2. The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander 


This book details how the US criminal justice system decimated communities of color and relegated millions of African-American citizens to a permanent second-class status, all while formally adhering to the principle of colorblindness. It also shows the connection between slavery, the Jim Crow era and mass incarceration. 

3. Citizen – Claudia Rankine


Poet Claudia Rankine meditates on police brutality, racial fatigue, depression and the denigration of black bodies throigh the use of short essays, reflections and poems. This book also showcases thought provoking imagery regarding race. 

4. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates 


In this book Coates attempts to answer the question of what it is like to inherit a black body and live in it everyday in the current crisis that is America’s race relations. He does this in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences. 

5. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace – Jeff Hobbs


This book portrays a brilliant young man who escaped the dangerous streets of Newark to graduate from Yale University, only to be the victim of a gang-related assassination at the age of thirty. The story of his life was written and told by his friend and college roommate, and encompasses America’s most enduring conflicts: race, poverty, drugs, and education. 

Latino Culture cannot be Bulldozed 

Happy Wednesday everyone. On Wednesdays, the Latino Cultural Center is usually buzzing with conversation as they have weekly Spanish conversation tables. The conversation tables allow people to not only engage in conversation in their native tongue but also to allow people who are new to the language to get some practice.

These conversation tables may soon come to an end as the Latino Cultural Center is being forced out of the house on Russell Street where they currently reside. According to Purdue officials, the LCC will force to move to a smaller location early next semester as the neighboring fraternity purchased the land to turn it into a parking lot.

I have personally enjoyed attending many events at the Latino Cultural Center. Being in that house there is such a welcoming and familial vibe. Being surrounded by students of Latino heritage it was apparent how much that space meant to them and how much support they got from the center. 

From attending events that were centered on cooking traditional Latino food, doing crafts in the dining room area, and having conversations in the living room space it seemed as though the center could have used more space. I am hopeful that the downsize does not sacrifice the resources of the space or their ability to host events

It is my hope that though there are many memories tied to the current LCC space, that they will find a way to create new and great memories in the new space as well. I look forward to attending events there and supporting my fellow Latino students through this move. 

Art of Culture

It’s that time of semester again where we get the first taste of what the performance ensembles at the Black Cultural Center showcase what they have been working on thus far. The ensembles shared their progress on their work during the annual Coffee House. 

My favorite part about the BCC Coffee Hoise is the way that the different ensembles (Jabari Dane Troupe, Haraka Writers, Black Voices of Inspiration and New Directional Players) are able to all center their performances on a common theme.  The theme that they all played off of was Black Love and Self Love. 

The Haraka Writers wrote spoken word pieces that they performed as a collective that detailed the love between 2 black individuals as well as the love for their culture. 

The Jahari Dance Troupe performed a dance together that showcased the love for Black culture and self love. 

The New Directional Players offered  comedic skits that showed the relationship that black women have for their hair, as well as love between people of the same gender. 

And lastly the Black Voices of Inspiration sang of love and beauty in their hymn style songs that also touched on the joy of being black and the pride in their heritage. They sang and swayed back and forth engraving the crowd and tying all the ensembles together. 

It is always so amazing to see the great dedication of student on campus to sharing their culture and passion through the arts and exposing others to their talent. I encourage everyone to see the perfromces by these talent students

Cultural Centers Welcome You with Open Arms

I have encountered many students who have exhibited some hesitancy going into the cultural centers, especially if it represents a culture they are not a part of. They are reluctant to utilize the space or get involved in an effort to learn about the culture. 
What I wish to convey to these students is that the cultural centers welcome you with open arms and take a great interest in educating on and sharing their culture with others. I want to convey some ways to get involved with some of the different cultural centers on Purdue’s campus. 

The Black Cultural Center is focused on sharing the culture of Black folks in America and the African diaspora through the arts. The BCC invites students to attend the showcases to learn more about the culture of Black folks from the students who live these experiences themselves. The BCC also offers great space to study in their library and lab. 

The Latino Cultural Center had regular Spanish speaking tables and serve Latino foods to attendees on a weekly basis. They are always willing to share their culture as it relates to their day to day practices. 

The LGBTQ Center on campus offers Safe Zone training several times throughout the semester. This training helps students create a safe and inclusive space to have conversations about social justice issues and not judge others based upon their social identity. 

These centers welcome individuals who are not familiar with the culture and are willing to introduce them to their practices, traditions and values. Now it is your turn to take that first step. 

Professor Crunk Comes to Purdue

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As Black History Month comes to a close March is on the horizon, I want to remind everyone that learning about Black history and the Black experience today does not have to be limited to just one month. Purdue has so many opportunities to learn more about race and social justice issues through the events that they host on campus. One event I am especially looking forward to is Dr. Brittany Cooper coming to campus.

Dr. Cooper, who also goes by “Professor Crunk”, is an Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University. On her blog, Crunk Feminist Collective, she discusses race and gender representations especially in pop culture, as well as Black feminism and hip hop feminism. She also serves as a TV Commentator on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show, All in with Chris Hayes and Al Jazeera America. She also has a weekly column on Salon.com about race and gender issues. She will be covering topics of race and gender in modern society during the event at Purdue on March 23.

Who: Dr. Brittany Cooper “Professor Crunk”

When: March 23

Time: 7-8pm

Where: Stewart Center Room 218CD

Black Man’s Nightmare

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It was opening weekend for the much anticipated movie “Get Out” directed by first time director and long-time comedian Jordan Peele and starring Daniel Kaluuya. This movie got a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and reeled in $11 million just on Friday. It is what critics are calling a “social-thriller” as it played on racial implications as they relate to privilege.

Verge offered an in-depth review of the film calling it the “horror movie for the post-Obama age”. This review offered some key racial takeaways that Peele strategically inserted in the film. I want to share the takeaways that also really resonated with me as well, without spoiling the ending.

For a little background, the movie is about a Black man who goes to visit his White girlfriend’s family and is met there by a few other Black people who are acting very odd and her mother who is constantly trying to hypnotize him as she is a psychiatrist. He ends up being hypnotized and falling into the control of the family who tries to sell him to their White friends and neighbors.

The film opened up with a Black man walking in a predominately White suburb, on the phone because he is lost. He is followed by a white car, and eventually kidnapped and stuffed in the trunk of the car by the driver after trying to walk in the other direction to get away from the car. This mirrors the setting of where Trayvon Martin was killed. He was walking in a White suburb before he was ultimately profiled due to his race and killed. In the film the man made mention of how unsafe he felt in the White neighborhood and  was followed and taken specifically because he was Black.

Another take away that resonated with me was the amount or privilege that surfaced in the movie and links to chattel slavery. In the movie the Black people, the main character in particular, were auctioned off to White the friends and neighbors of his girlfriend’s family. The friends and family bought Black individuals specifically for their bodies, in particular for their strong physical make up. This was something that slave masters looked for in the purchase of their slaves; a slave that was very strong and able to work long days in the fields.

The last takeaway I will offer looks at the evolution of slavery. In this film the family of his girlfriend were hypnotizing Black people and selling off their bodies to other white people. This speaks to the evolution of slavery that our country has gone through. While we no longer have traditional chattel slavery where White plantation owners owned Black slaves against their will to do manual labor, slavery has taken a new form. Today Black and Brown people are enslave to the criminal justice system through mass incarceration and over-policing. This is a concept that is explore in the Netflix documentary 13th. “Get Out” further explores the concept of slavery based upon race and shows the ways it has been modified and disguised throughout history.

This is a film I would recommend for everyone, as it triggers a lot of critical thought on race relations in our nation. While it does have horror aspects to it, it is not an overwhelmingly scary film. I am personally not a scary movie person and will be seeing this film a second and third time.

 

Living Histories

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As Black History Month comes to a close I wanted to share some ways that students on campus were celebrating the histories of those who came before them. What many don’t realize is that we are the history of tomorrow and the way we live and understand the past will affect the history we create for those who come after us.

The first image captures the Miss Black and Gold scholarship pageant that showcases the Black women on our campus who are serving their communities and pursuing academic achievement.

The second image shows poet and activist Chanel Bebe sharing poetry on black love at the the Love and Blackness spoken word night.

The third image shows a student sharing her thoughts on a world where racial equality is a priority as the Black History Month exhibit.

The fourth photos showcases a student reflecting on the brick structure that was built at the Black Cultural Center that signified the history of the center and the demonstration where students in the 60s carried bricks to Hovde Hall calling for a Cultural Center.

The fifth photo shows students in Windsor residence hall decorating their door with pictures of black women throughout history.

The final photo shows a student reflecting on the art at the Willis Bing Davis Black History Month exhibit at the Greater Lafayette Art Museum.

Share below your favorite way to celebrate balaclava history month and how you are creating a meaningful history for future generations to reflect on.

Black Boilermakers Through History

Happy Black History Month. February is a month full of learning about the contributions of Black Americans to our society throughout history with little to no recognition in formal education or mainstream media and entertainment. I was intrigued to know more about how Black history played a role on Purdue’s campus. I turned to the archives in the Black Cultural Center Library and wanted to share some of my favorite Purdue Black history facts with you, but encourage you to learn all about Purdue’s Black history and explore the cultural events the BCC has to offer.


1. David Robert Lewis was Purdue’s first Black graduate. He earned his B.S. in civil engineering in 1894

2. Richard Wirt Smith was Purdue’s first Black athlete in 1904.

Continue reading Black Boilermakers Through History