Making Statements, Staking Claims And Demanding Change
In this edition we take somewhat of a break from our usual features to profile one of the most anticipated arts festivals in the country — Spoleto. Assistant editor Kendra Hamilton willingly took a trip to her hometown of Charleston, S.C., earlier this summer to cover the annual event, which she reports, is more diverse than ever.
Hamilton’s exploration of the famed Spoleto Arts Festival yields a number of insights into the experience of African American artists and art within the American academy. It’s no surprise that Black artists have had to take on pioneering roles in bringing recognition to African American traditions in the arts. Coinciding with the Spoleto festival is the Gibbes Museum retrospective on the art of acclaimed South Carolina artist Dr. Leo Twiggs, the founder of the art department at South Carolina State University. Twiggs reminds us that art can produce profound statements about social identity.
Black Issues correspondent Cassie Chew reports on a subject that’s been on many people’s minds over the past few years due to low interest rates — homeownership. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, in efforts to increase the homeownership rates among African Americans, has launched an initiative called the Student Home Ownership Program (S.H.O.P.). This program, which is targeted to students from primarily historically Black colleges and universities and community colleges, gets young adults to start thinking about becoming homeowners, and encourages them to start laying the foundation now to eventually purchase a home. The program seems to resonate with participants who say the workshops have been an “eye-opening experience.” With interest rates relatively low and home prices soaring every year, the CBCF is right on time with their program.
Dr. Zenobia Hikes, vice president of student affairs and dean of students at Spelman College, pens the “Last Word” on a very controversial topic, the negative imagery often associated with rap and hip-hop. Earlier this year, Spelman had a first-hand experience with rap artist Nelly when he planned to visit the campus to promote the efforts of his charitable foundation, which works to increase awareness about bone marrow donations within the African American community. The Spelman women obliged and also extended an invitation to him to engage in a discussion about the negative images of Black women often perpetuated by the rap music genre. The discussion between the popular artist and the Spelman community never took place, reportedly because the college’s administration could not guarantee Nelly’s foundation a protest-free arrival. In any case, I won’t scoop Dr. Hikes’ op-ed piece, but she raises some important points about rap and hip-hop and its impact on Black culture and the Black community.
Hilary Hurd Anyaso
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