Thursday, April 19, 2012

Black Culture is Alive and Well in Cleveland

Black Culture is Alive and Well in Cleveland

The concept of black culture can be an elusive one. Exactly what is it?

For some people, it is dismissed by reference to song and dance, or young black males with sagging pants, oversized shirts and hoodies. This portrait is used to justify black underachievement, unemployment, crime statistics, incarceration, and just about any societal pathology commonly projected as black-related through the daily newspaper, or nightly news, or right-wing cable shows.

But of course, these images are far from encapsulating the African American community, or even the dominant portion of it. Cleveland this week is phenomenally alive with expressions of what black culture is about. Consider what’s happening around town just this evening:

Starting at 5PM, Successnet and 100 Black Men are presenting a program at Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall on “Who’s Mentoring Black Children?” The program will honor four active Clevelanders as 2012 Mentors: Ted Ginn, Kwa David Whitaker, Yvonne Pointer, Ilinda Reese.
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A quick ride away on the Healthline, at Case Western Reserve University, Karamu Theater will be presenting a play April 19 about foster care experience in Strosacker Auditorium. The free, public performance of Michael Oatman’s “Sometimes Hope is Enough” will be followed by a discussion about foster care. The event is a collaboration among Karamu,  Case’s Schubert Center for Child Studies, and the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services.

The program aims to bring to light the situations of the more than 2,000 foster children in Cuyahoga County without permanent homes. Each year, roughly 200 youth turn 18 and “age out” of the foster care system, many with few connections or resources to begin living on their own.

The panelists — Gregory Ashe, executive director, Karamu House; David Crampton, associate professor, CWRU Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences; Jessica Horne, executive director, Cleveland Urban Minority Alcoholism Drug Abuse Outreach Project (UMADOP); Gregory Kapcar, legislative director, Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO); Jacqueline McCray, deputy director, Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, Resources and Placement; and Melinda Sykes, director of children’s initiatives, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine — will discuss the research and policy implications of the realities portrayed in the play.

For information, visit or call Kate Lodge at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 216.881.4343 or Gabriella Celeste at the Schubert Center at 216.368.5314.
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Also on Case’s campus this afternoon will be Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, courtesy of the Case’s active Social Justice Institute, which is led by Professor Rhonda Williams. Coleman, a M.I.T.-trained social scientist and Ph.D., is the author of No Fear: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA.

The program, which will include a book signing, starts at 6:15 PM in the University’s Biomedical Research Building [Biomedical Research Building • BRB 105 •]
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Meanwhile, starting at 6PM in at North Broadway Methodist Church in Slavic Village, the second of a of the 4 part series of 2012 Voter Education Forums will be offering important information on voter education. A panel of prominent Greater Clevelanders, including Dennis Anderson of the Cuyahoga Board of Elections, Shakyra Diaz of the Cleveland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Hiram College political science professor Jason Johnson, and Will Tarter III, president of the Cleveland Young Professional Senate, will address important issues as voter disenfranchisement, how to be a more informed voter, and the voting rights of formerly incarcerated persons.
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On the entertainment tip, non-procrastinators will be attending yet another campus event, as part of the 2012 Tri-C Jazz Fest, where Esperanza Spalding will be performing before a sold-out crowd at Metro Auditorium.
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But lovers of culture need not go starving tonight. They merely have to head to Shaker Square, for the opening night of Cleveland’s first-ever Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival. Tonight’s schedule will feature “The Contradictions of Fair Hope” starting at 7:15PM, followed by a post-film reception next door at Zanzibar Restaurant. More details on the Festival, which runs through Sunday, can be found here:
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Either the film or the reception is likely to attract early attendees from the
Cleveland Realtists Association’s monthly business networking event, which takes place down the street and around the corner at Jezebel’s Café on Larchmere Blvd.
Consider this is just one day in the life of Cleveland’s African Community. There is positive activity everywhere for those who care to look. We will do a better job going forward in bringing timely information concerning these kinds of activities. 
Tomorrow we will tell you about this weekend’s events, including Friday’s wine-tasting hosted by The President’s Council, a session of African American philanthropy offered by The Cleveland Foundation Saturday, the annual luncheon of the Top Ladies of Distinction, and an all day Saturday student leadership conference at Case Western Reserve.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you back. Hope you are well and have just been busy.

Richard said...

Thanks, my friend.

It has been quite a month. First, an unexpected, all-consuming, and nicely remunerative writing assignment followed by a period of recuperation. Then catching up on neglected matters followed by the unexpected death of my mother-in-law, about which I shall likely post in a day or two.
But it is good to be back.