Celebrating Black History Month with Noteworthy TIE Content

Part Two

Busts of historical Black figures appear against red, yellow, and green background in honor of Black History Month

TIE concludes our commemoration of Black History Month 2023 with this second collection of notable pieces pertaining to the nuanced realities of being Black in America. These posts span formats and topics, from disparities in generational wealth between white and Black families to the legacies of African American heritage across the United States and the recent attacks against AP African American studies. The result is a multifaceted portrait that hopefully imparts to readers a deeper collective message.

Featured Review

Colorblindness Is Identity Theft: Acknowledging Racist Histories to Create Diverse Futures

By Zacharia Nchinda

Book cover of Raceless, which explores colorblindness

The quest to be seen, heard, recognized, acknowledged, and appreciated as we are symbolizes the core of human existence. In Raceless, Lawton uses her lived experience as the baseline to unravel the complex story of how she came to have “half a story, half an identity, and in many ways, half a life” (p. 18). Raceless is her journey to piece together her Black heritage, which had been deliberately obscured from her by her parents. Born out of infidelity resulting from her white mother’s one-night stand with an unidentified Black man, she shares with readers her inner search for identity in the 21st century, a time when identity and belonging are of utmost importance. Currently host of The Secrets in Us podcast, Lawton is a journalist who has written for such outlets as The GuardianVICE, and The Times (London), focusing on topics that deal with travel, culture, and identity.

[Read more here]

Interviews and Podcasts

The TIE Podcast Summer Session: A Conversation with Steven S. Rogers

Steven S. Rogers, author of "A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues"

The TIE Podcast “Summer Session” debuted today. In this episode, TIE’s editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward speaks with Steven S. Rogers, retired MBA Class of 1957 Senior Lecturer in General Management at Harvard Business School and author of the new book A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues: What You Can Do Right Now to Help the Black Community.

The episode features a compelling series of questions for Steven, whose responses are delivered with the urgency and depth we need to hear. Leading with a question on why it is important for Black Americans to receive reparations from the US government, Alexia then asks Steven to describe the disparities in net worth between white and Black America, why it is important that we remain accountable and responsible today for history’s failings, and teaching “financial apartheid” as part of the undergraduate financial literacy curriculum. Tough questions, incredibly direct and thought-provoking answers—this is a must-hear episode.

[Read more here]

The TIE Podcast Summer Session Preview: Applying Social Justice Principles to Leisure Studies

Diverse people enjoying leisure activities

With summer in full swing, vacation, rest, and recreation are on everyone’s mind. Wanting to explore this through a DEIA lens, TIE’s Summer Session podcast features an insightful conversation with Dr. Rasul Mowatt, head of the department of parks, recreation, and tourism management at North Carolina State University, about the relationship between nature, leisure, and race. With a PhD in leisure behavior, a Master of Science in Park and Natural Resource Management, and a Bachelor of Science in History—all from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign—Dr. Mowatt is the perfect discussant to guide us through this topic.

[Read more here]

The TIE Podcast Fall Semester Preview: Crystal McCormick Ware on the Impact of Belonging on Campus

Diverse people represent belonging on campus

College and university campuses are host to the best and brightest minds, but retaining those talented individuals also means creating an inclusive environment in which everyone feels that they belong. In TIE’s latest fall semester podcast episode, Crystal McCormick Ware, who is the inaugural chief diversity officer and senior advisor to the university president on DEI at Duquesne University, discusses how higher education institutions can foster and strengthen belonging on campus for all populations—students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Highlighting the intersection of belonging and inclusion, she maps out important strategies and measurable outcomes to bolster institutional DEI initiatives.

[Read more here]

Blog posts

Will Smith and the Calculus of Consequences in the Age of Incivility

Last week was a “doozy” in terms of bad behavior by powerful men.

The first incidents started with US Senators Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruz’s outlandish behavior toward Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings. I won’t relitigate what happened (you can read my thoughts here). The three senators were admonished by leaders of both American political parties and members of the press. The spectacle that took place during these hearings is something that I will never forget.

[Read more here]

The Future is African, but Some Continue to Struggle with This Fact

African man looking forward into the future

The recent announcement that Rwanda-Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa will play the new lead Time Lord on the popular BBC series Dr. Who has been met with both celebration and the usual racist commentary (paywalled). That some people were upset about a Black first on the show is not new. The racist rage that emerges when Black and Brown people (and BIPOC storylines) are situated at the forefront of fantasy and science fiction narratives is all too familiar, and I refuse to expend emotional energy on it. It is what it is.

[Read more here]

Digital Storytelling That Elevates Joy and Resistance

Black people expressing joy

Before the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which resulted in the heartbreaking deaths of 21 people, I was preparing this piece on the emerging theme of “joy as resistance” as expressed on social media. In the wake of those senseless murders, however, it felt tone-deaf to elevate any form of joy while the world mourns. I decided to wait until this week to explore the topic.

In considering the recent wave of mass shootings in the United States (the one in Uvalde, Texas, having received the most press coverage to date), I reflected on how they seem to occur at times of celebration in K–12 and higher education.

[Read more here]

A Major Corporation Attempted to Trademark Juneteenth

Black people commemorating Juneteenth

Sometimes I feel like I live in an “upside-down” world as many things are happening that defy logic. It is not logical, for instance, that billionaires pay lower tax rates than teachers in the United States. It is also not logical for a group of white neo-Nazis to pack themselves into a U-Haul truck with the alleged intention of disrupting a joyous Pride festival. It makes no sense to me that 18-year-olds are allowed to purchase weapons of war for “recreational use.” I could go on and on.

Carrying through the theme of highlighting the illogical, I would love for someone to help me understand why any corporation was allowed to trademark “Juneteenth” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and reportedly held onto said trademark for nearly one year?

[Read more here]

Rihanna Is a Self-Made Billionaire: Why Are Her Accomplishments Being Diminished?

Highly qualified Black woman billionaire

In 2018, Forbes Magazine selected 20-year-old “celebutante” Kylie Jenner for the cover of its August issue to headline a story on American women billionaires. The cover story dubbed Jenner a rising billionaire due to the success of her cosmetics line, Kylie Cosmetics. The following year, Forbes published a follow-up piece proclaiming Jenner, at 21, the youngest self-made billionaire ever (paywalled).

[Read more here]

The Saga of a Black Family’s Stolen Beach Resort Could Spark Meaningful Restorative Justice

Diverse crowd enjoying the beach

One of the most remarkable stories of the 21st century was the Los Angeles County of Supervisors’ unanimous vote to return beach property to the descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce in June 2022. The family had been locked in a century-long battle to have the land, which was stripped from their ancestors, returned to them. Their story is sadly far too common, emblematic of how the arc of the law is bent and distorted to privilege some white people while dishonoring Black people.

[Read more here]

Preserving the Indigenous and African American Heritage of Martha’s Vineyard

Diverse people reading about Martha's Vineyard

Each summer, the population of Martha’s Vineyard, a small island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, swells from a modest 17,000 people to more than 200,000 visitors and residents. August boasts the island’s highest occupancy rate, as it brings several activities and traditions, including the annual Grand Illumination night, the Black women’s Polar Bear plunge (paywalled), and the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. Celebrities and political luminaries such as former President Bill Clinton and comedian Larry David are frequently spotted enjoying island life in towns like Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown. Former President Barack Obama and his family loved visiting Martha’s Vineyard so much while he was in office that they purchased a 29-acre compound in Edgartown.

[Read more here]

Don’t Worry About Losing #BlackTwitter. It Has ‘Ancestry’ and Will Have ‘Descendants’

A young woman connects to Twitter through social media

If I had five dollars for every tweet and social media posting lamenting the departure of Black people from Twitter, I am convinced I could underwrite some of the quarterly operational costs for Toward Inclusive Excellence. The messages took me off guard because we all knew this day was coming. In a post earlier this year, I predicted that that Elon Musk’s acquisition of the financially troubled Twitter had the potential to reshape #BlackTwitter.

[Read more here]

How a Unifying Depiction of MLK and Coretta Scott King Became Divisive

Bust of MLK against a blue background

Last week, the City of Boston’s Art Commission, the Boston Landmarks Commission, and Embrace Boston, in partnership with the King family, unveiled a new landmark monument entitled The Embrace. The monument resides in Boston Common, where MLK gave a speech to an estimated 22,000 people on April 23, 1965.

[Read more here]

Colin Kaepernick Is Penalized for Social Justice Advocacy While Others’ Controversial Behavior Is Overlooked

Protesting for police reform and social justice

I have lost my passion for professional football after the revelations that Colin Kaepernick has allegedly been subjected to blackballing and other forms of professional mistreatment. It never occurred to me that a peaceful protest to raise awareness about how police violence disproportionately impacts Black people would essentially result in Kaepernick’s removal from the National Football League (NFL). Trying to watch a few games has proven unsuccessful. My football frenzy is officially gone, and I do not know if or when it will return.

[Read more here]

Politicians’ Attacks on AP African American Studies Are Anti-Democratic

Busts of historical Black figures appear against red, yellow, and green background, representing the importance of African American studies

Here we are at the beginning of Black History Month 2023, discussing the value of an Advanced Placement (AP) course on African American studies (paywalled).


Because Florida Governor Ron DeSantis decided to launch an attack on an African American Studies curriculum, elevating this topic to a national conversation. His focus on dismantling the AP African American Studies pilot program is striking to me for three primary reasons.

[Read more here]

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Interested in contributing to TIE? Send an email to Deb V. at Choice dvillavicencio@ala-choice.org with your topic idea.

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Header image is a detail of This is Harlem by Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more information, click here.