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Marc Lamont Hill: From Flint To Ferguson

Marc Lamont Hill

Marc Lamont Hill

On the evening of Sept. 29, author, journalist and professor Marc Lamont Hill spoke to a standing room only crowd in Duke University’s Full Frame Theater on the American Tobacco campus.

Hill, a Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College, was in conversation with African and African American Studies professor Mark Anthony Neal, the director of the Center for Arts Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship. Their conversation hinged on Hill’s latest book, “Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond.”

Hill who is currently the host of BET News and VH1 Live as well as a political contributor to CNN, talked about being among the first reporters to arrive in Ferguson, Mo., following the police killing of teen Michael Brown in 2014.

He talked about the “ordinariness of state violence” against people who are perceived as politically vulnerable and disposable, such as those in New Orleans following Katrina and those in Flint where drinking water was contaminated.

“In Flint we are witnessing this young century’s most profound illustration of civic evil, an entire city collectively punished with lead poisoned water for the crime of being poor, black and politically disempowered,” Hill said, reading a passage from his book.

“These conditions reflect the prevailing belief that the vulnerable are unworthy of investment, protection and the most fundamental provisions of the social contract. As a result, they can be erased, abandoned and even left to die,” said Hill. “That is state violence.”

“It doesn’t happen in Grosse Pointe, Michigan,” Hill said.

The conversation continued with Hill offering comment on sports and politics.

On Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest against the Star-Spangled Banner, Hill said at least other athletes are supportive. “Muhammad Ali had to stand alone,” he said.

“I am finding (Trump’s) campaign is dangerous, patriarchal and homophobic and often uninformed by things like data,” said Hill, noting the increasing racism and xenophobia in the U.S. “I think there is a nostalgia for moments that never were what we think they were.”

He made parallels between the concerns of the Black Lives Matter social movement in the U.S. with the plight of oppressed people such as Palestinians. A cultural anthropologist by training, Hill is currently making monthly trips to Israel where he is researching a book on Afro-Palestinians.

Hill also discussed the “lonely and solitary” life of being a public intellectual.

“I have to live a life of discipline. I read every day. I write every day,” Hill said. “That’s a lesson for students. To be productive as a scholar you have to write every.”

Hill, who has appeared on CNN, FOX News, VH1 and BET, said that although he’s interested in engaging with academic work, but also interested in reaching new audiences and stretching the idea of “academic rigor.”

“I enjoy doing other things. There’s a weird thing in the academy where you can only be good at one thing,” said Hill who is a cultural anthropologist by training. “There’s a self-imposed marginality of the intellectual when you challenge masculinity and do risky intellectual projects.”

Although he uses popular television as a platform, he seizes the opportunity to put forth academic ideas about state violence and patriarchy.

“I’m not trying to smuggle everything in under the academic canopy,” he said.

Haynie Elected Co-President of APSA Section on Race and Ethnic Politics

Professor Kerry L. Haynie was elected to a two year term as Co-President of the American Political Science Association’s  Section on Race and Ethnic Politics, at the association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2016.  The purpose of the Section is to foster communication among scholars, recognize leadership in the field, facilitate research and publication opportunities, encourage undergraduate and student interest, and create a permanent forum for developing and refining appropriate theoretical models in the study of race and ethnicity. Founded in 1995, the Section Race and Ethnic Politics has quickly become one of the largest subfields in the American Political Science Association (APSA). The section now represents more than 500 political science professors, graduate students, authors, and editors. Professor Jane Junn of the University of Southern California will be the Section’s other Co-President. In 2008, Haynie and Junn co-edited, New Race Politics: Understanding Minority and Immigrant Politics (Cambridge University Press).

Political Throwback

Watch Professor Kerry Haynie Interview Newark Mayor Cory Booker

In 2009 Newark mayor Cory Booker visited Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy to lecture on political leadership and social justice in the wake of the election of President Obama. Here, Prof. Haynie interviews Booker for the Rutherford Living History program, an initiative that documents conversations with American and world leaders who have been part of historic events.

Haynie on Republican National Convention

HaynieWRALProfessor Kerry Haynie appears on a expert panel convened by WRAL’s “On The Record” with host Laura Leslie to discuss the Republican National Convention, Trump’s speech and the state of the party.

“[His speech] didn’t accomplish what I think Mr. Trump needs to accomplish the most, and that is to broaden the base. Moving to the general election, he has to broaden that appeal.  I don’t think he did that,” Haynie said during the discussion. “It was an appeal to the conservative wing of the base. The ‘law and order’ references over and over again helped him with that base and the delegates in the convention. I’m not sure how well it will help him moving forward in the general election.”

The party, Haynie said, has ignored the demographic growth among young people and ethnic minorities.

“I thought the tone and demeanor was odd. The yelling was high pitched and high toned. We already knew that Donald Trump. He had an opportunity, I think a missed opportunity, to introduce another side to himself and I don’t think he did that,” Haynie said.

He added: “It was a very white audience. The [Republican] autopsy plan called for reaching out to blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans. You didn’t see much of that in that audience. It was the whitest Republican convention in recent memory.”

Watch here: (starts at 2:04)

DCORE Faculty To Host Panel on Racially Charged Summer


Last year WUNC’s Frank Stasio moderated a discussion with DCORE faculty members Kerry Haynie, Mark Anthony Neal and Karla Holloway.

In recent years, the summer season has given rise to racial tensions in the U.S. due to injustice surrounding police shootings and other acts of violence targeting the African Americans.

Two such incidents have captured media attention so far this summer — the July 5 killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and the killing of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., both by white police officers.

DCORE faculty members will discuss the various aspects of the police killings, the Orlando nightclub shooting and gun control during a panel discussion. The DCORE faculty represent a number of academic fields, including law, the humanities and the social sciences.

“#SummerSyllabus 2016” will be held at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8 in Griffith Film Theater.

Sterling, 37, died on July 5 outside a supermarket when police, suspecting he had a gun, wrestled him to the ground and shot him several times at point blank range. The father of five had been selling CDs.

A day later, Castile, 32, was killed during a routine traffic stop as he reached for his license, registration and concealed carry permit. Shortly after, in alleged retaliation, five police officers were killed in Dallas, Tex., and three were killed in Baton Rouge, La. A fourth is in critical condition and two others were injured.

DCORE faculty held #SummerSyllabus last year with a focus on the events of summer 2015 including the Charleston church shooting, the debate over the Confederate flag, and the death of Sandra Bland in police custody. In 2014, the topic was the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. which led to protests across the country.

Yomaira Figueroa Selected for Duke’s SITPA Junior Faculty Fellowship

From Michigan State University, College of Arts and Letters:


Dr. Yomaira Figueroa is an inaugural member of the 2015-17 SITPA Fellows cohort.

Yomaira Figueroa, assistant professor in the MSU Department of English and African American and African Studies, has been selected as a 2015-2017 Summer Institute on Tenure and Professional Advancement (SITPA) Fellow, and inaugural SITPA Fellows cohort member.

SITPA is a mentoring and professional socialization initiative at Duke University designed for early-career faculty to facilitate successful transition from junior faculty status to tenured associate professor. Its underlying objective is to address the persistent underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities on the faculties of U.S. colleges and universities.

The two-year SITPA fellowship provides information, guidance, and strategies on how to be successful in the tenure quest. Many view increasing tenure success rates as the next frontier in efforts to diversify the academy. A central feature of SITPA is matching fellows with a senior faculty mentor in their discipline, but from a college or university other than their own.

Says Figueroa, “Being chosen for the SITPA Fellowship means that I have an exciting opportunity to work alongside a diverse community of junior and senior scholars committed to countering the underrepresentation of tenured faculty of color in the U.S. As a fellow, I will have access to two years of one-on-one mentorship and help developing strategies toward completing several critical research projects with the goal of successfully earning tenure at MSU.”

Dr. Figueroa works on 20th century U.S. Latin Caribbean, Afro-Latinx and Afro-Hispanic literature and culture. Her current book project, “Decolonial Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Latinx & Afro-Hispanic Literature,” focuses on diasporic and exilic Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Equatoguinean texts in contact.

Figueroa earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. in English, Latino & Hispanic Caribbean Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.

History Professor Keisha Blain selected as SITPA Fellow

Announcement from the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:


Dr. Keisha Blain, University of Iowa

Keisha N. Blain, assistant professor in the Department of History, has been selected as a 2016-2018 Summer Institute on Tenure and Professional Advancement (SITPA) Fellow at Duke University.

SITPA is a mentoring and professional socialization initiative at Duke designed for early-career faculty to facilitate successful transition from junior faculty status to tenured associate professor. The two-year SITPA fellowship provides information, guidance, and strategies on how to be successful in the tenure quest. In addition to providing research and teaching grants to fellows, a central feature of SITPA is matching fellows with a senior faculty mentor in their discipline, from a college or university other than their own.

Blain is an historian of 20th century United States. She joined the University of Iowa faculty this academic year, in the Department of History, part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. She specializes in 20th century U.S. history, African American history, the modern African Diaspora, and Women’s and Gender Studies, and is the co-editor of Charleston Syllabus: Readings of Race, Racism, and Racial Violencereleased this year.


What is Race? (video)


Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.56.56 PMOn July 3, Professor Mark Anthony Neal appeared in UNC-TV’s Black Issues Forum to discuss race, ethnicity and identity with Dr. Candis Watts Smith of UNC-Chapel Hill, and Samone Oates-Bullock, a public policy graduate student, also at UNC-Chapel-Hill. . The concept of race is a complex matter, and often it is difficult to have a real conversation about race and ethnicity without tensions rising and offenses being launched. Host Deborah Holt Noel leads a dialogue about the definition of race and more.

Watch here:


‘Bad/Dangerous/Invincible: Michael Jackson’s Epic Years’

From Off the Wall to Invincible, Michael Jackson’smj bad recordings on Epic Records chronicle the artist’s evolution to become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Author and Duke University Professor of Black Popular Culture, Mark Anthony Neal, will take the audience behind the music for a look at Jackson’s resounding impact on music, culture and entertainment and his place in a longstanding tradition of Black performance.

The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 16. It is free and open to the public but registration is required. Register here.

Those unable to attend can join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtags #ApolloEd #ApolloLiveWire or #MJEpicYears.

Neal is the director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture, and Entrepreneurship at Duke where he has taught signature courses on hip hop, and Michael Jackson and the Black Performance Tradition.

Black Food Matters: Vegan eco-chef Bryant Terry shares his recipe for food justice

Kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, black eyed peas, broccoli rabe.

These are foods many of our grandparents ate and grew in their gardens decades ago that are now enjoying a resurgence as people begin to embrace healthy, farm fresh meals.

Fast food alters the taste buds, said Bryant Terry, an award-winning chef, educator, author and TV personality. Terry is the author of several books including Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed. He is currently the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco.

More than two dozen people attended Terry’s talk Monday evening at Duke’s John Hope Franklin Center, organized by Left of Black host Mark Anthony Neal. Neal is also the director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship.

During his talk, Terry encouraged the audience be more attentive to food issues, to grow their own food and to connect with the food justice movement in their own communities.

“I want people to think about these issues in the context of their personal lives and community. It’s about structural issues, not just individual transformation,” said Terry who began his career as a grassroots activist railing against the industrialization of pre-packaged and processed food.

“I’m pretty sure I’m the only guest on the Martha Stewart Show who talked about food justice,” Terry said.

His philosophy on introducing people to the food justice movement is to “start with the visceral to ignite the cerebral and end with the political.”

“Heady intellectual ideas don’t resonate with everyone. For some, it’s a farm fresh meal, memories of cooking with grandparents, could be a conversation with a fast food worker,” he said.

He became politicized around food as a high school student listening to KRS-One’s “Beef,” a rap song about factory farming. And he also read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair on the horrors of the meat-packing industry.

As a college student attending NYU, Terry saw young children drinking soda and energy drinks in the morning before school. “This was their breakfast” he said, noting the link between academic performance, behavior and nutrition.

“The larger social justice movement would be remiss not to talk about the connection between healthcare issues and nutrition. Food justice and social justice are inextricably linked,” he said.

Neal raised the issue that some complain that fast food is much cheaper than healthy foods. Terry pointed to multinational corporations subsidized by the government.

“If the government supported young farmers and subsidized them, healthy food would also be cheap,” he said.

“Major companies market to kids as young as 2-years old,” he said. “They are spending more on marketing than on the product. It’s a form of psychic violence.”

When he started his ‘Be Heathy’ program, his young students didn’t even know where carrots came from.

“I wanted to raise their food I.Q. and to get them to think more critically about food. And I learned that when they prepared things, they ate it,” he said, realizing the connection between food, health and self-empowerment.

Making a meal from scratch, having a garden or a farm — these are things people in the community already know how to do, he said.

His web series, Urban Organic, explores the connections between food, health and technology. The first episode featured a tour of an Oakland, Calif. aquaponics farm. “You can do a lot with a little land,” he said.

“We need a holistic understanding around these issues and a sea change. We should be owning our own land, providing healthy, fresh food, employing people and beautifying the community.”

For more information about Terry, visit