M23 pulls out of Goma. Phew.

Yesterday I spoke with several of my students from a Congo-based cultural center in Goma called Yole!Africa. I skyped with them during the launch of Yole!Africa USA - the American based non-profit wing of the amazing cultural organization. When we hung up, I had no idea that the M23 rebels were in the process of evacuating the city. This is great news. After 20 years of conflict, I was terrified that the insurgency could potentially lead to more violence. Thank goodness this round ended without further bloodshed. From The Daily Beast:

ec771b7-2.cached.pngCrowds of people in the embattled city of Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, lined the streets like a parade route to witness the departure of the Rwanda-linked M23 rebel group this weekend. Eleven days after the mutineers stormed and then occupied the strategic provincial capital, they withdrew to bases outside the city, though maintained a presence at the airport. As the rebels left, they sang victory songs, brandished weapons and vowed to return “if [Congolese President Joseph] Kabila provokes us.” Read the full spread at The Daily Beast.

2 Comments. Filed under Africa.

The Clothesline Muse

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Please support these beautiful sisters: Grammy nominee Nnenna Freelon, choreographer Kariamu Welsh and visual arts activist Maya Freelon Asante. They are collaborating on an amazing inter-generational project on women’s work called The Clothesline Muse. Watch the video for yourself and DONATE before the campaign expires next week!

1 Comment. Filed under music, theatre.

Making Beats in Congo

There’s a lot going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo right now. The eastern city of Goma was recently overthrown by a rebel insurgency - the latest episode of a conflict mineral fueled beef, which has plagued the region for two decades. But here at Blackademics we’ve got another story to tell - a story about youth, technology and beats. This summer, I traveled to Goma, Congo with my colleague Apple Juice Kid to build an electronic music production studio, called Beat Making Lab. After two intensive weeks of instruction, our students produced some incredible work. Get a glimpse of it here and stay tuned for more!

2 Comments. Filed under Africa, technology.

GO SLEEP SOMEWHERE ELSE!

Thank you KJ DELL’ANTONIA of New York Times’ Motherlode blog for originally posting this article about the throes of parenting. Anyone with small kids is going to feel me on this one!

GO SLEEP SOMEWHERE ELSE

I have a 2-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son who sleep in bed with me and my wife. Every. Single. Night.

It wasn’t always this way. My wife and I used to spoon. If one of the kids woke up, we would take turns jumping out of bed to change, feed and rock them back to sleep. Then we would lay them in their cribs, tiptoe back into the master bedroom and snuggle into each other’s arms. It was perfect.

2 Comments. Filed under music.

LeVar Burton on Black science fiction

I got to chat with one of my idols on CNN!!!


1 Comment. Filed under popular culture.

PUMZI - Netflix reccomendation

I got rid of cable a few months ago and I’m not looking back. These days if I want to watch something interesting, I turn to Netflix or Hulu. The problem is: the selection on both of these sites is dangerously slim - especially for a thoughtful consumer/Blackademic like myself. So from now on I will be making recommendations of fresh content that celebrates the dopeness, diversity and depth of blackness. First up: all my sci-fi fans need to peep this post-apocalyptic short film from the always entertaining Africa First catalog. PUMZI and four other short films from Africa First: Volume 1 are available on Netflix. Enjoy!

1 Comment. Filed under film.

Rio + 20

I have spent the last week performing and speaking in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I was invited by the United Nations Foundation to present at Rio+Social, a forum where activists, politicians, moguls and artists discuss how social media and new technologies can serve the greater good. It’s part of Rio+20, the U.N.’s conference on sustainable development. I’ve been performing alongside producer and DJ Apple Juice Kid (aka Stephen Levitin), with whom I teach a Beat Making Lab in the music department at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Rio is beautiful. Gorgeous landscapes, delicious foods and welcoming people have made this an incredible experience. I’m a Durham native, and I love my hometown, but Rio has reminded me that travel is one of the most important things a person can do.

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Travel is maximized when exchange takes place – when one connects with people and each party takes something from the other. It’s like creating good music. The more artists bring their unique experiences to the table, the higher the possibility for robust collaboration.


1 Comment. Filed under positivity, diaspora.

AFRICA RISING: THE GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT TO END FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

Self determination, grassroots activism & women’s empowerment = a beautiful thing. Check out this amazing documentary entitled AFRICA RISING. It premiers tonight on the Africa Channel. Read more below:

Every day, 6,000 girls from the Horn of Africa to sub-Saharan nations are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). With fierce determination and deep love for their communities, brave African activists are leading a formidable, fearless grassroots movement to end 5,000 years of FGM. An insightful look at the frontlines of a quiet revolution taking the continent by storm, this extraordinarily powerful film is one of the first to focus on African solutions to FGM.

1 Comment. Filed under film, Africa.

9th Wonder & Mark Anthony Neal Shine

It’s a blessing when two of your heroes are also your colleagues. Check out this CBS piece on Grammy-winner 9th Wonder and Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal. I’m so proud of what these two have accomplished. They are an inspiration for artists/academicians in general, and for Durhamites/North Carolinians in particular. Shine on, brothers.

1 Comment. Filed under academia, black culture, music, history, Hip-Hip.

Remembering Malcolm X

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Forty Seven years ago today, Malcolm X was assassinated. Activist, Journalist and Durham resident Lamont Lilly reflects on Malcolm’s enduring legacy in this piece, entitled: We are Malcolm X - This in Remembrance.

“It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of black against white, or as a purely American problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.” - El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, 1964

Brief, yet exhaustive, this passage best represents the Malcolm X America doesn’t want you and I to know—the more complete post-Mecca Malcolm who could once again ignite an entire nation if only he were properly revisited. It seems like just yesterday, the life and times of Malcolm Little were resurrected through Spike Lee’s 1992 cinematic production, Malcolm X. Bold, vivid and vulgar, Spike’s production wasn’t only a history book for the hood; it was the artistic catalyst of a new cool: the infamous black “X” hat. It was also an introduction to Malcolm as a martyr of resistance.

1 Comment. Filed under black culture, history, education.