Celebrating BLAC's 20th anniversary and recalling what we and the culture were up to in 2010, plus replaying our sit-down with Carmen N'Namdi.
To kick off a brand-new decade, BLAC set out to prove that we are not a monolith while shining a light on our people, magnificent as ever, in lesser explored corners of the diaspora. We got to know black Canadians and met with women making a difference in Mexico, and in April, we sat down with Carl Craig and unpacked his efforts to introduce Detroit techno to the masses. But we didn’t neglect the tough stuff. We unpacked water rights, prostate cancer awareness, transforming Detroit and other issues at the forefront of black life, arts and culture.
Still a Thing
Cryptocurrency is on our radars and hard seltzer is a thing, but these topics featured in BLAC back in 2010 are still relevant today:
Black women and hair
Benefits of breastfeeding
Commuting to college
The Good Fight
In the April issue, we caught up with Stacy Barker, a sexual assault survivor who served over 22 years in prison for killing another would-be attacker. Barker was among 800 women who came together in a class-action lawsuit against the state of Michigan, alleging that it allowed systematic sexual assault and rape of inmates by prison guards at female correctional facilities. After a 13-year battle, the state agreed to pay $100 million to settle, though no administrator or supervisor was ever held accountable. Nine years later, in the light of the #MeToo movement, we are just now beginning to grasp the enormity of this issue. The sexual assault and abuse of women and girls in prisons, the military, on college campuses and in the workplace remains a disgustingly rampant problem.
Barker’s book about the fight will debut in January 2020. Preorder now.
Shock and Awe
On Jan. 12, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Haiti. At least 250,000 people died, hundreds of thousands suffered brutal injuries and another 1 million lost their homes. It was estimated that some 3 million people were affected overall; it was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. In October, cases of cholera began to surface around the Artibonite River – a major source of drinking water – because it’d been contaminated with fecal matter carrying a South Asian strain of cholera bacteria.
BLAC sat down with educator and art enthusiast Carmen N’Namdi for our January issue. She’d just retired as principal of Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse, the institution she’d founded in 1978 and named for the daughter she and husband George N’Namdi lost; it would become one of Detroit’s first charter schools. In a Q&A with Nichole Christian, we examined Carmen’s uniquely deliberate approach to education.
Do you think most people know how to measure education?
One of the things I ask parents a lot (is), “Now that you’re an adult, what are the most important things in your career and in your family life?” They mention being self-disciplined, being a good communicator, being flexible and being honest. I say, “Why don’t you ever mention any of those things during parent-teacher conferences? Knowing ultimately that is what education is all about, why don’t you worry about that with your children? You talk about the science grade and math grade, but you never want to know about their personal skills.” I don’t think we look for the skills that lead to the skills.
If you could improve education tomorrow, where would you focus?
I’d look to the universities to do more in preparing teachers to teach. I’d also really help parents to see how much they are responsible for what goes on in the schools. Teachers are (responsible), yes, absolutely, but parents are responsible for preparing the child for school. You could truly have a partnership with home and school, because parents really want to do whatever they can for their children. It’s just that a lot of times, they don’t know what to do. If your child is mopping the kitchen floor and you’re handing them a chart at the end to assess things, then you don’t have to say, “Look at this. It’s a mess.” They see it on the checklist. Now you’ve taught them how to do a self-assessment of their work. We tend to ride children, not teach them.
What has been your greatest lesson?
Everything is a gift. But you have to look for the gift. We could just be sad people who had a daughter die. But we have the Nataki Talibah and all of these people in our lives. So, she gave us a gift.
South Africa hosts the World Cup for the first time
Kamala Harris becomes California’s first black – and first female – attorney general
The BP oil spill dumps 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf’s waters
Apple releases the iPad
LeBron James leaves the Cleveland Caveliers for the Miami Heat
In March, President Barack Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act – what we affectionately call “Obamacare.” Despite criticism, the law included several programs especially beneficial to African Americans, and millions of previously uninsured people gained coverage.