Entries Tagged 'Education' ↓

Laughing With You, Or At You?: Does Yale’s “Single Asians” Debunk or Traffic Old Stereotypes?

screen11You all get Fs: Mixed Company sets Asians back thousands of years

Adam Clayton Powell was fond of noting that Harvard University had “ruined more Negroes than bad whiskey.” Well, perhaps his Korean counterpart is somewhere saying the same thing about Asians at Yale.

That was my first random thought when I saw this bit, today, on YouTube: Purported members of the Mixed Company of Yale University chorale, above, shuffling to their reworked version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”: “Single Asians.”

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Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni is not just one of the world’s greatest poets, with a legacy of profound and funky work, but a scholar with deep community interests and focuses. As a Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg VA since 1987, she trains future leaders in the literature of the mother tongue. As the author of over 30 books, she shares the beauty of poetic language with readers far and wide, having done so for over four decades. The above photo is drawn from the session for her first volume of work, Black Feeling, Black Talk, published in 1968, the year she turned twenty-five.

nikki_giovanni_largeUnlike many poets, however, Giovanni, right, has long had an interest in reaching children. Her first book of verse for them, Spin a Soft Black Song, was published a mere three years after her first volume, in 1971, two short years after giving birth to her only child, Thomas Watson Giovanni.

Her latest work, which she edited, continues her aim of making poetry come alive for young listeners and readers, albeit in a contemporary way. Hip-Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat presents compositions by rap artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, the Sugarhill Gang, and Stetsasonic along with classics by Claude McKay, Sterling Brown, Maya Angelou, and, of course, Nikki Giovanni. Children can read along in the profusely illustrated text while an accompanying CD presents most of the pieces in audio form, some of them read by the original poet. For me, the highlight had to be hearing Langston Hughes, performing his own poems, like “Dream Boogie” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”

micronycteris-megalotisNikki Giovanni has had a long and varied career, appropriately honored with accolades from admirers as diverse as TV host Oprah Winfrey, whose hailed her as one of twenty-five “Living Legends”; to singer Teena Marie, who name-checked Giovanni on her 1981 hit, “Square Biz”; to biologist Robert Baker who, in 2004—no joke—named a West Ecuadoran bat he discovered, three years earlier, after her. Micronycteris giovanniae, which means meaning “Giovanni’s small night flyer,”looks much like the cuddly fellow above. “I enjoy reading her poetry and I come from the Deep South, so I really can appreciate what she has done for race relations and equality,” the professor explains.

Nikki Giovanni is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 31st, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Back Before He Got Busted: Talkin’ ‘Bout Race with Henry “Skip” Gates.

African American Lives

Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, above, holds a unique, negative distinction in the history of NONFICTION, the hour-long radio show I’ve been doing every week at WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM since 2003: He was, when he appeared on the broadcast in January 2004, and still is, the tardiest guest to ever actually get on air, strolling in literally about five minutes before I opened my mic. (I typically ask guests to be an hour early for our live show.)

amd_prof_gatesOf course, these days, Dr. Gates has notoriety of a wholly different magnitude, as a result of being arrested, a little over a week ago, Thursday, July 16, 12:44 pm, by Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge MA police department, inside Dr. Gates own home. (By the Blackest of coincidences, it was the same day President Obama would address the NAACP, in celebration of their 100th anniversary.) After a passerby saw Gates trying to break into his own yellow, clapboard house—the front door was damaged and stuck—the woman called the police and, after a verbal confrontation in Gates’ home, he was led out of his own door, above, and off of his own porch, in handcuffs.

Supposed the conflict had escalated, and Gates had been beaten, wounded, shot, or killed? How would this have then played out? Would it have been just another parade of somber white faces and furious, stunned Black ones? How would the story of what had happened have been told, and by whom?

I wonder how that Black cop, in the foreground, above, feels. Bet it’s not a party for him, either.

Did you know that Black cops are nine times more likely to be shot by a fellow white officer than a white cop is?

When Gates and I met to talk about his then latest book and documentary, America Behind The Color Line: Dialogues with African-Americans, those questions were certainly as far away from his mind as Cambridge is from China, that being the country from which he’d just returned that fateful day.

He was late to my interview. But better late than never.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates is the guest today on this repeat edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 24th, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear his ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Buyer Education

“Look at these grades!”In his book, The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges–and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Daniel Golden rips the lid off of the modern university’s dirtiest secret: How colleges often quietly admit the lackluster, not-so-bright offspring of America’s wealthiest families, in order to solicit choice, multimillion-dollar donations from their parents, later.

He reveals how the sons of former vice president Al Gore, one-time Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist leapt ahead of more deserving applicants at Harvard, Brown, and Princeton. He explores favoritism at the Ivy Leagues, Duke, the University of Virginia, and Notre Dame, among other institutions. He reveals that colleges hold Asian American students to a higher standard than whites; comply with Title IX by giving scholarships to rich women in “patrician sports” like horseback riding, squash, and crew; and repay congressmen for favors by admitting their children. He also reveals that Harvard maintains a “Z-list” for well-connected but underqualified students, who are quietly admitted on the condition that they wait a year to enroll.

Daniel Golden is the guest, today, on this rebroadcasted edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, August 29, 2 pm ET.

If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, you can check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, check out our archive for up to two weeks after broadcast.

GAP Band Redux, or Weird Moments in Wikipedia Disambiguation

Look up “GAP Band” on Wikipedia, and you’ll see “Not to be confused with band gap,” beneath the headline.

“Band gap”?? I took the bait:

In solid state physics and related applied fields, the band gap, also called an energy gap or stop band, is a region where a particle or quasiparticle is forbidden from propagating. For insulators and semiconductors, the band gap generally refers to the energy difference between the top of the valence band and the bottom of the conduction band.


Perfect clarity…

Thank you for your time!

“There Is No Them”: Patton Oswalt Totally Drops Science at His Old Stomping Grounds

Ya lousy bum….

Patton Oswalt is an actor / writer / voiceover artist / comedian perhaps best known, at least to me, for playing “Spence Olchin” on The King of Queens, and the lead rat, “Remy,” below, on Pixar’s animated 2007 hit, Ratatouille.

Hi, Remy!In short, he’s a funny guy that I notice from time to time, probably once every three months. That’s pretty much it.

At least, that was it. I just read Oswalt’s commencement address to the 2008 graduating class of Broad Run High School in Ashburn, VA, his alma mater, and…whoa…it’s one of the most profound graduation speeches I’ve ever come across.

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Has It Been 20 Years Already?

Turn that noise down…

Hey: If you’re in Chicago tomorrow afternoon, Thursday, July 17th, around 3 pm, come on by the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater. I’m going to be there with my pals Chuck D of Public Enemy, and Hank and Keith Shocklee of the Bomb Squad, hosted by the Future of Music Coalition, and talking about the creation of P.E.’s seminal album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, above.

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Maximizing the Synthetic Applications of Hip-Hop Culture

Thinkin’ of a master plan…
Thinking broadly: George Washington Carver, 1906

What are the possible uses of hip-hop, all of them?

How many kinds of tasks can it do? It what kinds of ways might it be used, in order to help people better understand themselves and/or each other?

This question is, to me, the most important, yet least-addressed, as it pertains to hip-hop and its future. It’s also the one on which I’m focusing, assisted by a talented rapper and educator, during my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, June 20, 2 pm ET.

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Today: Morehouse. Tomorrow: The NAACP.

White men can jump…to the valedictorian slot

What does it mean, conceptually, when the class valedictorian, at a school created to educate Black men, is white?

If you’ve never considered this question, your time to answer it is already up: Meet Joshua Packwood, representing Morehouse College this Sunday as the school’s first white val in its 141-year history.

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