I'm back from Pittsburgh! I had the honor of being a panelist at the Dec. 15 closing ceremony for the New Media Academy for African American Males. One Hood Media, established by Jasiri X and Paradise “The Arkitech” Gray, in conjunction with August Wilson Center for African American Culture and a generous donation provided by the Heinz Endowments, started the New Media Academy in June. New Media Academy is a tool to help African American young men critically analyze media messages, broaden their experience of media, and develop the creative skills needed in creating their own media. Why? All too often the young African American male is either underrepresented or misrepresented in media. The mission of the academy is to improve self image, dispel stereotypes, and provide a positive forum of self expression.
The program was offered to young African-American men, ages 14-19, and included the art of blogging, video production, and social media. Despite the rain, people packed the August Wilson Center to witness the New Media Academy All-Stars receive their certificates of completion and also we watched footage of their various works. Jasiri X also led the young men in a panel discussion on what they plan to do with the things they learned in the academy. Congrats to the all-stars!
Following that wonderful presentation, our panel zeroed in on the topic "Taking Control of Our Own Image." Fellow panelists included Wise Intelligent, Davey D, Che "Rhymefest" Smith, Malik Rhasaan (Occupy the Hood), and Bakari Kitwana. The panel was moderated by Jasiri X and Dr. Kimberly "Dr. Goddess" Ellis. We hit on mainstream media, the power of social media, ways to control the images of the Black male, reality shows, the Occupy Movement, hip-hop, Black love, and more. Once I get footage I will be sure to post it. Thank you to Jasiri X and Paradise Gray for the invite.
(Brother Jesse Muhammad is an award-winning blogger and a staff writer for The Final Call Newspaper. Follow Brother Jesse on Twitter @BrotherJesse)