Angie, Chris SP
Revision: Projects swapped
Project for Many
For students of color in a white institution mentorship is extremely important. many students of color need older students to direct them towards spaces and, teacher, and information on campus that will help them feel safe and supported. There is very little support for these students otherwise. We would make a packet of reading material for black freshman. The packet would be given to selected freshmen in pieces allowing them to consider each text one at a time rather than bombarding them with a lot of info all at once and have an ongoing opportunity to have a conversation. This is information that students of color should have access to at this college but unfortunately do not.....
Some works in the packets will be:
Scans from Afrofuturism:The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha Womack
Academic studies about students of color in higher ed
Scans form Black Quantum Futurism by Rasheedah Phillips
Informational zine on Womanism
The works will be printed and tied into packets for distribution. Two packets will be given out to the selected students during the coming week. The aim is to present the works as meaningful documents to be kept as reference and guidance for the years to come.
Meeting with Lydia:
She encouraged a lunch meeting with the freshmen. A smaller group of two or three freshmen would be intimate enough to share common experiences and have a genuine dialogue. Towards the end of term would be a better time to meet, when students, ourselves included, have completed most of their finals and can actually talked without feeling stressed about losing time or being overwhelmed by another reading to do. She recommended I share the womanist and black feminist texts first and provide academic studies if they indicate that they would like that so as to not overwhelm them or project.
All of the freshman I met with were very happy to be receiving the texts. They were all very excited about reading works by black authors and scholars. There was a consistent desire for more information, especially in the classroom. They were excited to be having these discussions with me. The freshmen were very open to the idea of discussing these topics with me and each other after the break. I hope to continue the conversations I began with Maya, Lujie, Matt, Shelby, and Lydia in the future!
Meeting with Maya:
Maya (Samaya) is a freshman I met at the beginning of the term when distributing my Afrofuturist Movie Making zines. I made a huge batch of zines and gave them to people who expressed interest, especially students of color. I gave Maya one of the zines and she was very excited about receiving it. I could tell she really appreciated this exchange. This interaction inspired this project: I wanted to offer the knowledge that I have come to through my own studies to black freshmen as an acknowledgment of their experiences, our shared experiences, and their interests.
Maya is interested in Political Science. We discussed a class Called the Body Politic she is taking. The teacher, Crina Archer, is fabulous. I told Maya about Crina’s Black Bloc reading group I was a part of last term. Crina is a teacher who really likes to have conversations with her students outside of class about independent interests or classroom topics. She has a very non traditional view of politics and would be a very important person to continue studying with at Bennington.
I also recommended Lydia Brassard as an important point of contact for her. Lydia’s classes would be very relevant to Maya as they discuss the implication of racial politics on education and other avenues of learning. I also recommended Williams College as a great way to broaden her scope on her studies.
Maya currently lives in Noyes, a quiet house that is relatively removed from the center of campus housing. She expressed interest in living in a house with more of a community. I recommended moving to Bingham. This is a quieter house but is home to a lot of very powerful and intelligent women of color. The house chairs of Bingham would be very good women for her to know. She seemed very excited about the possibility of living in a house in which she felt more connected to her housemates.
Maya was very excited about the readings. I could tell she really enjoyed our lunch meeting. She thanked me many times for reaching out to her. I was happy to have been able to share the knowledge I had gained this term with her and look forward to talking with her more in the future.
Meeting with Matt:
Matt was in my Sun Ra...Space is the Place class. This photo was taken on our final class when we were presenting our final projects. He was a member of a larger band (all in tin foil costumes). Matt read poetry while the band played.
After class I approached him and told him that I was doing a project in which I was sharing readings with black freshman. I told him that I was taking a class at Williams College called Womanist/Black Feminist Thought. He expressed interest in the possibility of taking a class at Williams. I recommended this as an option that could greatly enrich his Bennington experience.
He expressed the most interest in the Black Quantum Futurism Manifesto. I summarized the piece as a lens to reconsider our bodies in space by reconsidering our definitions of time and space. Time runs at different rates at different locations in space-time. Therefore universal time is a construct of Western society. Black Quantum Futurism is inspired by quantum physics and non western understandings of cyclical time. These perspectives allow us to shift our perception of our past-present-future presence.
Matt is interested in science and music. I recommended About Time by Paul Davies. This is a book on Einstein and his involvement in game changing discoveries in physics, specifically special relativity and quantum physics. This was the book that Rasheedah gave to me to read in order to better understand her theories on time.
Meeting with Shelby:
Shelby was one of the first freshman I met this year. She started coming to roller derby practice and Kalopsia: Check All That Apply, a group that focuses on identity and race politics at Bennington.
Shelby also expressed a lot of interest in Animation. I gave her one of my Afrofuturist Movie Making zines I made over the summer. She was very interested in learning about film through a less eurocentric lens.
Shelby was the most interested in Coming Apart by ALice Walker. She has an interest in literature and was glad to be reading short stories. She was extremely excited to talk to me about the texts. She requested that I send her the full PDF of the Womanist Reader.
We talked a lot about Multiple Jeopardy, Multiple Consciousness: The Context of Black Feminist Ideology by Deborah King. We discussed the state of the modern black woman: bound by the implications of race, class, and gender which can never be isolated as they come from the same source. I was very happy to have a conversation about the issues this essay addresses and their implications at Bennington College.
We talked about how much we wanted to be able to take more classes that focused on social science from non white perspectives. I encouraged her to pursue a class at Williams is she was interested in more diverse approaches to film theory or the social sciences. She seemed excited about this possibility.
Shelby is in the black Aesthetic course next term. I told her how excited I was that she got into the class. It will be a great group of very powerful ladies that she should get to know better. I also recommended Lydia Brassard as a good administrative ally with whom to discuss her independent ideas and/or class related readings.
Meeting with Lujie:
I approached Lujie at the Student Center Cafe and asked her if she would be interested in having some texts on womanism and Black Feminism. She expressed a lot of interest in having some readings on feminism. She was surprised that Bennington did not offer more courses on feminism and gender studies, considering that the school is mostly women.
I delivered the booklets to her room. She (and her roommate) were very excited about the readings. Lujie expressed a lot of interest in having readings for the winter. She asked that I send her the full PDF of The Womanist Reader.
We talked about her term. She liked Bennington and had positive things to say about her first term. She is interested in Anthropology and social science. She was confused why there weren’t more offerings of Africana studies. She noted how many African drumming classes there are but not very many among the any other department. I strongly recommended that she take a course at Williams. This would be a very good supplement to a Bennington education. She would gain a much more complex understanding of Anthropology, history, and culture than she would at Bennington alone.
I recommended that she try to get into The Black Aesthetic next term. I am technically enrolled in the course but will be abroad next term. She was interested in the class. I recommended that she go to the first class and see if she could take my seat in the class. Lujie was very excited about the possibility of taking a class that would have a very diverse makeup of students, a rarity at Bennington. I also recommended taking a class with Lydia Brassard next term. She a new professor who is looking very critically at race in education. Lydia would be a very good person to be in contact with next term.
Project for One
Learning from the Past to Envision the Future
Project for Jenny: Our Mount Anthony Union High School (MAUHS) connection
This project for one will entale bringing Jenny our MAUHS connection from earlier in the term on a walking tour of downtown Bennington. The tour will present the past to envision the future of Bennington through historic images and conversation while moving through space. Jenny, a life long Pownal/ Bennington resident and lover of history has admitted to me her small knowledge of the history of her hometown. Our project aims to inform her in regards to the past and offer a place for reflection and projection of possible futures for the town she calls home.
The piece will take place in the central core of downtown Bennington, spurring from the four corners up Main and South street and will include historic images of various ages taken of the structures we walk past. Most of this history predating Jenny's existence in the world, the images will inform her in regards to the spacial and cultural realities of Benningtons past.
Angie and I met up with Jenny on a Wednesday at three PM at South Street Cafe. There we described to her our gift to her; a guided walk of photos of the towns past with hopes of conversing about past, present and future. Jenny was excited, engaged and fully up for the offer. The walk was in the for of a T, starting at the stone blacksmith shop on the corner of South street and Union, running down through the four corners and to the corner of Pleasant and North Street. From there we turned back and walked up Main to Ramunto's at Valentine and back to the Cafe. We showed thirty photographs from various times and ages, all of Bennington's downtown past. The images varied in age from the 1860's into the mid 1970's and presented a wide range of physical and cultural shift in the town.
Our conversation cycled through time as the images did. Jenny recalled various changes in her experience of place and marveled at shifts she did not have previous knowledge of. She was particularly taken by the changes at the four corners, not much but the Putmam Hotel had remained the same.
Original idea: Life in Bennington Project for Many
We aim to put up ten to twenty placards of historic views of Bennington Town's past. The images will vary in era, color and quality. Some will be broad views of downtown while others will be intimate snapshots of daily life. Some images will focus on peoples experience in town while others capture the architectural conditions of the era.
This piece is intending to invite the people of Bennington to reflect, appreciate and connect with the towns past. The piece will affect people from all walks of life and all ages. The images will provoke memories in some, while spurring conversation and through from others. Placards will frame the contemporary conditions while displaying the historic imagery below. These portals will allow people to directly engage and make connections between the past and present.
The piece will take place in the central core of downtown Bennington, spurring from the four corners up Main and South street. Ten to twenty standing placards, bases in buckets of concrete etc, will present a historic image and contemporary conditions frame. These placards will be place on the edge of the sidewalk, framing the images they contain.
The piece will provide the viewer to look at the view in its present state and its past state. Below the historical pictures we will have questions provoking the viewer to imagine a future Bennington. We want to develop questions that are not envisioning abstract futures but incorporating the present as the beginning of the future.
What store do you wish was on this street?
What do you wish was publicly celebrated in Bennington?
What are you proud of?
What do you want your children to be proud of?