About the #BlackPantherSyllabus

Best known for his research into television content and cultivation theory, George Gerbner (1972) said that “representation in the fictional world signifies social existence; absence means symbolic annihilation” (p. 44). Historically, the Black experience has been absent, underrepresented, or misrepresented. Intersections within the identity have suffered with additional pressures, promoting a continued sense of invisibility. Within the last few years, visual representation has been on a rise, with our stories of the Black experience being told on a multitude of platforms. Narratives filled with stereotypes and misrepresentations are being overridden by success, wholeness, and imagination. This is particularly present in popular culture. Marvel’s Black Panther film serves as the highest profile example of a fundamental shift in our experience.

The Marvel character, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966, is inspiration personified: he is a servant leader, he is a protector, he is an intellectual, and he is a power house. Inspired by the record shattering blockbuster film filled with incredible performances and sociopolitical commentary, the #BlackPantherSyllabus is designed to continue the dialogue around the importance of diverse representation of the Black identity and its intersections in visible forms of media in popular culture and the arts, including television, film, comics, music, science/speculative fiction, fantasy literature, manga, anime, gaming, and more. The hope is that this celebration of Blackness in the form of a syllabus creates an educational tool and a movement that promotes a deeper sense of self-authorship.

Curators: Dr. Brandon W. Jones bjonesproject.com, Shawn J. Moore shawnjmoore.com

Source: #BlackPantherSyllabus | Feminism | Ethnicity, Race & Gender

This year I started homeschooling my ten year old son. I won’t go into the whycomes…in this post at least. The other day I took him on the first stage of what I call our Boston Underground Railroad tour. Looking at the list of houses on the site, I determined the William Ingersoll Bowditch house was the best (read closest) option on a wintery day. So off we went.

My son in front of the William Ingersoll Bowditch house.

There was no plaque or anything to reference the house’s history, as you can see. Even given the fact that black history is marginalized, I still felt disappointed by the lack of recognition but as usual, I turned it into a teaching moment.

Questions I asked my son:

1. Why do you think there is no plaque or recognition?

His response? “I don’t know.”

Me: I’m not asking you what you know. I’m asking you what you think.


Since there was nothing to see that tied to the history, we left. The next stop will be the Mount Auburn Cemetery

An Open Letter to Those Colleges and Universities that have Assigned Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as the “Common” Freshmen Reading for the Class of 2016 | Brown Town.

Excerpt from the letter:

What makes the racism of Skloot’s account all the more insidious is that she could have foreclosed my accusation that she was unquestioningly  appropriating Henrietta Lacks’s body by admitting that Henrietta’s self-touching was, indeed, a fabrication, a “it-could-have-happened-like-this” situation. She could have admitted the unreliability of her narration. Instead of self-reflecting, Skloot turns the criticism outward, recounting in great detail how difficult it was for her to get Henrietta’s story. As a result, the black characters in her story are racialized but she is not. They have the problem with racial difference, not her. She has less to get over than them; she comes in earnestness; she can be trusted. So she says. And so we believe. We learn so much about the fears and hesitations of the Lacks’s family toward this white writer but nevertheless come to trust Skloot more than the Lackses; she is the voice of reason.  And so we come to suspend our disbelief and go on thinking that it is fine and ethical for her to rewrite Henrietta Lacks’s body in an intimate moment that may not, in fact, even have happened.  Yet the proclamation of the book’s truth content begs an analysis of Skloot.  What feelings of privilege and authority over another’s body must a writer possess in order to rewrite an already exploited body and call it “non-fiction”?