April 30

Lil Nas X – Country Music Billboard controversy and the racial divide






19 year old rising rap star Lil Nas X has found himself in the center of a most recent controversy in Country Music, a genre that provides little space for female artists and black artists.

Most recently, the country rap song, “Old Town Road” was pulled off of the Country Music billboard list claiming:

” …it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”

There is so much cross over in the music industry, and in fact many white male country artists incorporate rap and hip-hop into their music.  Several articles and interviews are looking at this story to bring attention to the double standard when a black rapper crossed over to country.

Rolling Stone MAgazine comments on the larger issue of race and music genres:

Expelling Lil Nas X’s single from Hot Country Songs points to a complicated racial dynamic. The music industry still relies heavily on old-fashioned definitions of genre, which have always mapped on race — Billboard’s R&B chart, for example, was originally titled “race music,” while the Latin songs chart lumps together a myriad of genres and languages under one ethnic umbrella.

Below are resources from NPR and the NY Times.


March 9

Kehinde Wiley – A New Republic painting series

Thank you to Ms. Dunn for bringing a fresh look at museum portraiture.

Kehinde Wiley is a world renowned contemporary black artist.  Common to his work is the influence of art historical portraits, highly rendered forms and organic patterned backgrounds.  In his series, A New Republic, Wiley street casts models for the subjects of his paintings.  Central to his work is elevating the image of people of color to belong in institutions alongside historically white portraiture, thus “transforming the way we as a culture view the black body in public spaces.”

A documentary about this creation of this series is available on Amazon Prime.

March 5

New Photography by Mikael Owunna celebrates the beauty of the black body

‘Every Black Person Deserves To See Themselves This Way’

In his series called Infinite Essence, photographer Mikael Owunna creates works with the intention of redirecting imagery of black people.  He works to create an alternative to the negative imagery we are accustomed to seeing in the news.  He paints his models with glow in the dark paint to create images in which the black body appears celestial and infinite.

Click here for more on his work from NPR.


February 17

Yassmin Abdel-Magied: Is It Possible To Unravel Unconscious Bias?

In this powerful TedTalk, Yassmin Abdel-Magied discussed combating unconscious bias by acknowledging it and interrupting it.  She offers the viewer the suggestion of beginning by mentoring.  She specifies, however, that it is comfortable to mentor and lift up those who we are similar to.  She challenges the viewer to mentor someone different from ourselves and that in this way, we create access and opportunity for others.

A powerful new Ted Talk worth a listen:


For more on this and similar stories, click here