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  • Writer's picturedarengraves

Doing the Work... Inaugural Edition

I'm awful at self-promotion. It's just how I move in the world. Some of it is my "natural" disposition. And some of it can be chalked up to the ugliness of the Cycle of Socialization. Actually, the creation of this website was the result of lots of good advice from loved ones and other friends who felt I could be doing a better job of letting folks know of ways that I can be of use in fighting the beautiful struggle. That being said, I feel way more comfortable elevating and amplifying the good work that I come across folks doing. Even better when the good work is being done by friends or colleagues. So my goal will be to highlight the good work of at least three folks a month. I'll hashtag the posts #dointhatwork #keepgoing on my social media. So here goes for August 2020...

Dr. Stevie Johnson (aka - Dr. View) - (In)visible Man #HipHopEd familia, if you ain't up on Dr. View...? A self-described "DJ. Producer. Educator. Community Organizer." Dr. Johnson first caught my attention handing out his mixtapes in San Antonio at the 2017 Annual Meeting of AERA while he was still a grad student. He would go on to do amazing things as a student at University of Oklahoma where his dissertation, both a paper AND an album, made news and broke open new possibilities in the #HipHopEd space and the academy writ-large. It's been a blessing to have him be part of the AERA Hip Hop Special Interest Group familia! I have been particularly impressed by the ways Dr. View has used his platforms to educate folks about the history of the Greenwood District of Tulsa/Black Wall Street and elevating the voices of Tulsa's contemporary Black communities. What has been giving me particular life is his album "(In)visible Man" (album cover above). The title of the album is a clear homage to Ralph Ellison, born in Oklahoma, and the themes illuminated in his famous eponymously titled book. Dr. View showcases his production skills while always highlighting fellow musical artists and emcees from Tulsa and/or other parts of OK. It's an excellent soundtrack to life as we fight the beautiful struggle against anti-Blackness and assert our Black excellence.

Dr. Imani Perry - "Racism is Terrible. Blackness is Not"

Get used to seeing posts that highlights the work of Dr. Imani Perry. I had the honor of first meeting Dr. Perry when I was an bright-eyed and naive 18 year-old Black man at Yale University. Dr. Perry was a senior when I arrived and it took me exactly 13 nanoseconds to realize that she was the most intelligent young person I had met. The most uncanny combination of intelligence, criticality, and cool I had even encountered until...I started working at Simmons University and have had the honor of working with her mother, Dr. Theresa Perry, somehow even cooler than her extremely hip daughter. Another story for another day. There is so much work that Dr. Perry has produced lately, it is hard to choose. Since 2018 alone...she has been the author of an amazing book on Lorraine Hansberry, the Black National Anthem (a real hidden gem for education heads as far as I'm concerned), gender and liberation, and her most recent acclaimed book Breathe: A Letter to My Sons. In this post I'd mostly like to draw your attention to her latest article in The Atlantic. It's a great piece to help get your mind and actions right in this latest moment where there is so much public attention being given to anti-Blackness. And her Twitter timeline, is an absolute must-follow.

Kyesha Jennings - "Her Take: On Carolina Hip Hop"

If you love Hip Hop and you ain't up on how North Carolina really outchea...? Really? Little Brother? J. Cole? You ain't up on 9th Wonder and the Jamla Squad? And how dare you not recognize the queen and emcee heavyweight Rapsody? Well if you need a primer, or want to be on the cutting edge of the great Hip Hop coming out of NC, look no further than Kyesha Jennings. The homie Lauren Kelly put me on to Kyesha, and I got a chance to meet her at a panel I moderated with Lauren for the AERA Hip Hop Special Interest Group. Ever since I've been following both her work as a scholar and her work as a columnist and reporter for Indy Week. Kyesha has some great interviews with NC talent, including a great one with one of my favorite up-and-comers Reuben Vincent. Here I highlight Kyesha's recurring column on North Carolina Hip Hop.

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