Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Get in the Mix -- Become a RBMF Mentor!

mentor mixer copy

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund would like to invite you to join us at our first Mentor Mixer. For those who are just being introduced to our work, we’ll be providing a brief overview of our history and initiatives. For those who have supported our work over the past four years, we’ll be unveiling our fall fundraisers and announcing the winners of the 2009 scholarship award. Most importantly, we’ll use the evening to begin transforming talented folks like you from young professionals and agents of change into mentors for the next generation of scholars and activists.

At the event, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the amazing young men and women who have received the seven scholarships we’ve granted since 2006. 2007 scholarship recipient Dashana Payne and her mentor Kemi Ilesanmi will be discussing their experience with our mentoring program, and 2009 recipient Nafissatou Traore (who has not yet been paired with a mentor) will speak briefly about how she’s been inspired by Rashawn’s legacy of selfless service and academic excellence.

We do hope that you’ll join us for this exciting event. Have a drink, bring a friend and learn a little about the role YOU can play in helping us build the New York City that Rashawn wanted to see; a diverse and affirming city free of violent crime.

To RSVP, email us today by clicking here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dinners by Desire

From noon-5pm this Saturday, Rashawn Brazell's mother Desire will be selling home-cooked dinners to raise money for the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship. Meals include southern fried chicken, collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese, potato salad, curried chicken, peas and rice, oxtails and red velvet cake for desert. Chicken meals are a mere $8 and oxtail meals a mere $9. The quest for justice has never been so delicious!

1091-1103 Gates Avenue
Apartment 4D
(Between Broadway & Bushwick)
Brooklyn, NY

call 917.971.5321 for details

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

On the Dissertation Tip

Well folks, it's a watershed moment in the life of your boy LarryLy. After 4+ years of coursework, qualifying exams and teaching, I've finally arrived at the place I've been dreaming about since I decided on a career in the academy: DISSERTATION STAGE!

Because the debates and discussions on this blog have been instrumental in preparing me to think critically about the intersection of text and image as it relates to issues of race, class and gender in 20th Century America, I am excited to share with you the first portion of my dissertation research -- an ambitious engagement of the work of African-American photographer Gordon Parks alongside that of folklorist/author Zora Neale Hurston.

Gordon Parks’ rise as a documentary photographer allowed him to intervene in the revision of America’s national identity during a crucial moment in the country’s history: the advent of mass culture in the 1930s. Pursuing the Farm Services Administration’s goal of “introducing America to Americans,” Parks’ early work exposed the infringement of mass culture upon local cultures, particularly the ways in which farm mechanization signaled major changes in the profile of working-class labor.

My research explores the conversation between Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men (1935) Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) and Dust Tracks on a Road (1942) and Parks’ work with the FSA. I am particularly interested in the possible relationships between black laborers’ experiences of the Farm Services Administration and the Federal Security Administration, which scholars have discussed in terms of its interventions in the town of Belle Glade, Florida (the town upon which Hurston bases her fictional accounts of “the muck”). How might these identically acronymed government programs have come to represent the heavy-handed surveillance of white capitalism for black rural laborers during the 1930s and 1940s? And how might this connection revise popular beliefs about the laborers’ relation to the white capitalist authority structure?

I argue that Hurston’s texts and Parks’ images help us discern how the economic shifts of the early 20th century impacted visual and literary interrogations of (and challenges to) white male hegemony and how that process impacted the emergence of the black middle class.

Friday, January 30, 2009

my president is

Monday, December 01, 2008

On Michelle Obama and Stereotypes

In response to CNN's report "Michelle Obama breaks stereotypes"

CNN's Randi Kaye examines how Michelle Obama may help break down stereotypes of black women.

I’ve seen this segment aired on CNN at least three times and each time it’s made me more and more uncomfortable. Why? Because it’s just plain silly to suggest that Michelle Obama can single-handedly eradicate stereotypes about African-American women. By definition, stereotypes are images or ideas about a group of people that have become fixed by repetition or acceptance, to the point of cliché. If there are stereotypes about Black women being overweight, ignorant or angry, they exist because we have been inundated with those unflattering images over the course of decades and generations.

While I am genuinely excited about what Michelle will bring to the White House, I think we’re doing a disservice not only to the first family, but to our already derelict discourse on race and racism to suggest that one woman’s weight, skin-tone and parenting abilities could possibly reverse a stereotype that was built over several successive decades of white supremacist attitudes about black women being transmitted through every possible mouthpiece from music videos to US public policy.

To avoid yoking our next First Lady with unrealistic expectations, we’re going to have to give serious consideration to her context. What Michelle Obama’s visibility can offer is a counterpoint to the hundreds of negative images of Black women that are circulated daily amongst Americans. So, for the hundreds of mammies, hoes, bitches, Jezebels, welfare mothers, ghetto queens, baby’s mamas and chickenheads that exist in the songs, movies, news reports and anecdotes that comprise our national imagination, there is now one Michelle Obama. She’s powerful, she’s accomplished, she’s fortunate and she’s ambitious, but she’s just one woman, folks. And, to be clear, it’s going to take a lot more than one First Lady to transform or dismantle the caricatured image of black women that’s been crafted by the racist and misogynist attitudes of our white supremacist society.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Friday, September 05, 2008

on brandy.

What follows is the blurb I penned about Brandy for my imeem.com "Best of Brandy" playlist. It's very much a work-in-progress. If you're anything like me (meaning that you take pride in thinking critically about your favorite music), I invite you to toss in your suggestions, revisions, qualms, laurels, admonitions and accolades. If you're nothing like me, just hush and take a listen.

No female singer this century has had so profound an impact on the sound of contemporary R&B than the iconic Brandy Norwood. This playlist profiles the lushly layered harmonies and the ethereal, otherworldly vocal arrangements that she and producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins tailored to accommodate the young starlet’s airy voice, smooth alto range and moody temperment.

Inspired by the stirring ballads of Whitney Houston and the intricate vocal stylings of gospel’s Kim Burrell, Brandy’s songs allow listeners to explore the unique blend of anomie and automation that shapes the postmodern soundscape as well as the human vulnerability that lies at its root.

[note: for some reason, the blog insert is only playing 30-second snippets. to hear the songs in their entirety, click on the "brandy's best" hyperlink beneath the player]

brandys best

I'd love to have a conversation about my favorites, but it seems pointless, considering I've already cited each of the tracks as one of her best. *shrug* could someone please take an interest in my claim about the postmodernity of Brandy's sound? I'd really like an opportunity to discuss it further without wondering whether anyone gives a damn. Ha!