We Must Learn More About Africa

Africa, African, Culture, Education, Films, History, Politics, Uncategorized

Africa: States of Independence – The Scramble for Africa

Africa has so much meaning for humanity and particularly for African descendants spread throguhout every corner of our globe. Africa though, is a complex continent for many to comprehend, with a complicated history, burdened by mis characterization, prejudice and exploitation.

In 2003, I was fortunate enough to travel to Africa as a student learning about Human Rights. It was a journey that had many meanings for me. On one hand it meant reconnecting with the land and the people on the continent where my father’s descendants lived. It also meant being actively connected with young people struggling for progress in their respective nations in the spirit of Pan Africanism. Lastly, it meant an incredible summer as a 20 year old fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time.

I remember watching a scene in the movie, Belly, where Nas’ character, Sincere, announces to his friends that “I’m going to Africa!” In this scene he explains how he is getting his life together, moving away from his past lifestlye and reconnecting with his roots and his motherland.

Personally, I have always felt this type of affinity and connection with Africa. I am sure that being raised by a Pan-Africanist father has a little something to do with that. Anyway, Africa is a complicated continent and it is important that people of the African Diaspora in particular become knowledgeable about Africa’s history ancient and more importantly the history colonization and decolonization. This documentary published by Al-Jazerra English effectively provides a snapshot of Africa’s experience with colonization and its sturggle for decolonization.

The film highlights the glorious period of the fall of colonization, the subsequent failed governments, the coups and the modern struggle with the exploitation of neocolonialism. If you are interested in learning more about the current state of Africa, I would suggest that you begin by learning which countries were colonized by which European nations. Then I would begin meeting different people from the continent and discussing some of their history with them. When did your country get Independence (be careful though Ethiopia was never colonized)? Who are your famous leaders? What are some of the major ethnic groups in your nation? What is the name of your capital city?

Many times growing up in the inner-city environments we are surrounded by people who have recently immigrated from Africa. Often times its the classmate, the sister braiding hair or the brother driving a cab that can help us learn more about Africa. We just need to take the initiative and ask. I am sure that if we can work to avoid judging, keep an open mind and sincerely try to learn, our questions will be appreciated and our knowledge will increase. It is my hope that you are or will be inspired by Africa, the great continent, the cradle of humanity, the wounded land, the hopeful l. Hope you enjoy, share and comment.

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Law and Disorder in Philadelphia

African American, African American, Culture, Education, Films, History, Politics

Law and Disorder in Philadelphia

This BBC series examines  the state of the street violence and  the drug trade in Philadelphia. For me, this piece is important because I work with young men mainly from Philadelphia already knee deep in the juvenile justice system. I want to warn you that the journalist, Louis Theroux, is more of a comedian and sensationalist than a sincere journalist. However, I do think that some valuable discussions take place in this documentary including: the exploitation of the youth by higher level drug dealers, police brutality, the role of drug dealers as community figureheads, the impact of the drug trade in these neighborhoods, the lack of cooperation and understanding between police and citizens and the issue of ‘No Snitchin.” Philadelphia is one of America’s incredible cities with incredible people but it also has some significant problems that need to be addressed more effectively. What do you think can be done to make a difference? As always, watch, enjoy, learn, comment and share.

Must See: Jay-Z on Oprah’s Master Class

African American, Culture, Education, Films, Music & Hip-Hop

Jay-Z on Oprah’s Master Class

On January 1, 2011 Oprah Winfrey premiered her new television network OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). During OWN’s premiere, Oprah featured Jay-Z on the first episode of her series, Oprah Presents Master Class. I found this episode of Oprah Presents Master Class with Jay-Z very powerful and educational. Jay-z, arguably the most successful rapper in Hip Hop’s history, shares insights and lessons learned from his experiences growing up and from his involvement in Hip Hop and the business world. Jay-Z has numerous things to teach younger and older generations. I am sure that you will find the following videos highly informative and thought provoking. I hope you get as much from these videos as I did. As always, feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment, posting this to your Facebook wall or tweeting it to your followers on Twitter.

Europe’s African and Islamic History

Africa, African, Culture, Education, Europe, European, Films, History

Europe’s African and Islamic History

Many African Americans grow up in the United States and other countries throughout the African Diaspora lacking much knowledge about the history of Africa and the great contributions African people have made to civilization and Western civilization especially.

It seems as if we are taught that Africans were brought to the New World from a Dark Continent that was devoid of the light of knowledge, advanced culture and civilization. We are made to believe that illiteracy and primitiveness are essentially African concepts.

The following well produced and credible documentaries serve to debunk these myths and begin to shed light on the impact that  the African and Islamic civilizations of West and North Africa had on Europe. This influence was most pronounced in Islamic Spain or Al-Andalusia, which lasted for a period of over 700 years until 1492. Al-Andalusia  as the following films document, brought advanced sciences and knowledge to Europe via Spain that changed the course of European and world history .

Learning about the influence Africa and the Islamic world had on Europe and the European Renaissance, should create a sense of pride and appreciation among people of African descent or Islamic faith, while also teaching us about the importance of tolerance and mutuality. I hope that these films will enhance your understanding of the history of Europe and highlight that the proliferation of knowledge, civilization and culture was never a one way street leading out of Europe.

These films in light of the current clamorings in Europe against the rising immigrant populations, mainly from African and Islamic nations, will hopefully serve to instruct people on how much can be accomplished when we respect diversity and bring the best of our cultures to bear for the common good of man.

Bring Your A Game – Documentary

African American, African American, Culture, Education, Films, History, Race, Race, Uncategorized


Bring Your A Game

Bring Your A Game, released in 2009 and directed by Mario Van Peebles, is a motivational documentary about the realities facing America’s inner city youth. The great thing about this documentary is not that it features the likes of, Geoffrey Canada, Lupe Fiasco, Ice Cube, Sean Combs and others, but that it provides constructive solutions to the problems facing America’s inner city youth. The solution is bringing your A game through education. If you work with young people, or are a young person yourself, take twenty minutes to watch this film and be inspired.

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AfroLatinos Coming in 2012 !!!

African American, African American, Brazil, Brazil, Culture, Films, History, Latin America, Latin America, Race, Race

AfroLatinos

AfroLatinos is a stunning new documentary coming to viewers in 2012. This film is going to highlight the presence, history, experience, cultural impact and problems facing AfroLatinos. Many people from the United States and the other places, including myself, never realized that so many Africans were brought to Latin America during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade era. I find it remarkable that we in the United States have known so very little of our African relatives in Latin America. 

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A Critical Film on Hip-Hop – Beyond Beats and Rhymes

Music & Hip-Hop, Uncategorized


Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

The following film by Byron Hurt, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, is a new classic. This documentary was released in 2006 and analyzes the Hip-Hop world from a critical and loving perspective. Byron Hurt touches on issues ranging from hyper-masculinity, misogyny, violence to homophobia and corporate exploitation in Hip-Hop music in culture. He interviews some of the leading figures from both the Hip-Hop world and the intellectual world…from Jadakiss, Fat Joe, Busta Rhymes, Chuck D, Mos Def, Russell Simmons and Talib Kweli to Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Jelani Cobb, Kevin Powell and Nelson George. He emphatically shows how Hip-Hop goes far beyond beats and rhymes! Enjoy the entire film and share!

A Must See Film – The Interrupters

Films

“Violence is Like a Disease”

Today The Interrupters Film premieres in Chicago. Visit http://interrupters.kartemquin.com/ to find out when it premieres in your city. If you work in a school or with young people, consider getting an educational license to screen it yourself. Contact them at the link above.

There is a serious problem with violence in every major city in our nation. Chicago happens to be arguably one of the violent cities in our nation and possibly the world. Check out the trailer above, get inspired and go and find a screening and bring a friend. It is time to interrupt the cycle of violence claiming the lives of our young people!

The Interrupters