Dancing in Blackness: Halifu Osumare

In compliance with current health and university guidelines, “Dancing in Blackness: An Academic’s Dance Journey” at Columbia University has been cancelled. Please check back for updates and reschedules.

Halifu Osumare. Ph.D. has been involved with dance and black popular culture internationally for over forty years as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, administrator and scholar. She is Professor Emerita of African American & African Studies at UC Davis and has written two books on global hip-hop: The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves (2007), in which she coined the phrase “connective marginalities” that gave a cogent reason for the youth culture’s internationalization.

 Her memoir, Dancing in Blackness, with a Foreword written by Brenda Dixon Gottschild, was published by University Press of Florida in 2018, and won the 2019 Selma Jeanne Cohen Prize for Dance Aesthetics, as well as a 2019 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. She has taught dance and lecture-based courses on dance and culture throughout U.S., Europe, Africa, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.


African Voices and Pen & Brush will celebrate National Poetry Month with a tribute to Ntozake Shange.

African Voices and Pen & Brush will celebrate National Poetry Month with a tribute to Ntozake Shange. The event will feature readings from her friend Dr. Halifu Osumare, author of Dancing In Blackness; writer Rashidah Ismaili, Vice President of the Pen And Brush Board; Chanel Dupree, a scriptwriter in development with “Salvage” and several contributors from African Voices special issue honoring Ntozake. The event is free and open to the public. Donations welcome

Black History Month – In celebration of ‘ordinary’ Women

In recognition of Black History Month in the United States, from February 13 – March 31, posts will be about ‘ordinary’ African Diaspora women, highlighting aspect of their lives. I start with Melissa Barber, the visionary behind the Melissa Thanks series. Please listen as she reads Day 22 and Day 23 of Melissa’s Thanks 2019

Dancing Life… 5

Ayodele Casel’s Diary of a Tap Dancer explores shared themes of hoofers past and present with stories illuminating the struggle and joy of expression, communication, the evolution of jazz music, gender inequality, and the personal and culturally devastating implications for women of color. 

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020 4:15 pm

Dancing Life 4

“…this short film explores the depths of Elisabeth’s practice and charts the ways in which she imbues traditional folklore and beliefs into her work – whether it be in dance, poetry or installation. “I think anybody that leaves home is looking for something. For me it was clarity,” she says.”

Sharing this link on the works of dancer, Elisabeth Sutherland Okyeame.

On Race and Health

Racial discrimination isn’t just harmful as it happens—its effects can linger for years. Tufts researchers recently found that people exposed to racial discrimination during early childhood were more likely to develop cardiovascular health issues compared to those who never experience discrimination, or who experienced discrimination later in life.

One of the most dynamic conversations taking place in and around fields of health and wellbeing is to what extent does racism contribute to the health and wellbeing of an individual across a lifetimes. For African living in the diaspora, and specifically in diaspora spaces largely constructed by colonial paradigms in place to protect and uphold white identity and whiteness through acts of physical and psychic assaults on black and brown bodies.

Researchers are gathering new evidence on the effects of experiences of racism and when along the life course these experiences are most detrimental. Read more below:

By Dominique Ameroso June 13, 2019 

“Racial discrimination isn’t just harmful as it happens—its effects can linger for years. Tufts researchers recently found that people exposed to racial discrimination during early childhood were more likely to develop cardiovascular health issues compared to those who never experience discrimination, or who experienced discrimination later in life.” Click to Read More!

OUCH!! Teeth In/Teeth Out!

I figure if someone is willing to write a book about dentistry and dental health geared for general public reading, then I am going to read it. Well  Donna R. Williams-Ngirwa has written just such a book; and I just ordered it. Over the past three years I have read several academic and clinical articles on dentistry and dental health, most with dreaded statistic about minority populations encounter with dental well being, but few offering any comprehensive interventions or insight as for tackling the issues that create the dreaded statistics. In these articles, the Asian population fair the worst, and not far behind are African American and African Diaspora in the US. Not surprisingly, my current interest (almost obsession) with reading articles on dentistry, is inspired by my own personal journey. Some years ago being informed, when I inquired for guidance as to what I could do to stave of a pending issue, that is was “it’s a common problem among African American”. My response: “it was that it may are common, but what can I do to not succumb.” My responsibilities was met with what could be described as dental profession eye rolling. You know what I mean, it was the equivalent of ‘get over it, it’s just a matter of time and you too will have it, because you are BLACK‘. I would like to say that I walked out of the office and never went back, but this was not the case. The dentist had already started work in my mouth that needed an additional four visits to complete. In my mind, he would damn well complete the work and then I am happy to see the back of him and his office; or more precise, he would see the back of me.

But truth be told, I have always been curious about this dentistry, especially as it relates to enslavement and the use and abuse of enslaved bodies and how that translated into the current. But that’s for another post.

I am encouraging all who can and are interested to read Donna R. Williams-Ngirwa 2019 publication: The Power of a Smile

Talk to Boys About Sex?

Yet that silence has troubling implications. According to a 2017 national survey of 3,000 high school students and young adults by the Making Caring Common Project, a large majority of boys never had a single conversation with their parents about, for instance, how to be sure that your partner “wants to be — and is comfortable — having sex with you,” or about what it meant to be a “a caring and respectful sexual partner.” About two-thirds had never heard from their parents that they shouldn’t have sex with someone who is too intoxicated to consent.

Though I have issues with the visual representation presented here (I mean the graphic image by Alexander Glandien that accompanies the article; on numerous levels it is a dubious editorial choice), I nonetheless share Peggy Orenstein‘s New York Times opinion article because of the subject matter is of urgent importance. In recent years I have been in several forums in which discussions of sex and sexuality are articulated as if young people, particularly boys and young men, already KNOW. The assumption here is that young people (of all genders) have been born with or cultivated through cultural osmosis honorable internal ethical guidelines to which, though not celebrated in popular culture, they have the fortitude to adhere. Yet, as far as I am aware, there isn’t a place in US culture (other cultures may address this better) where young people (or adults for that matter) can talk with honesty and straightforwardness about sex. The culture does a lot of talk AT sex, or about the mechanics of the sexual act, but there is much more to sex than mechanics. If this were not so, cultures (religious, secular and everywhere in the between) would not dedicate so much effort to manage who has sex with whom and under what conditions sexual encounters are ‘legitimized’ in a culture. Oh, and, I am not only referring to sex acts that result in or are dedicated to procreation. Thank you Peggy Orenstein for your article.