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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Path To My African Eyes By Ermila Moodley

Author: Ermila Moddley
Publisher: Just Us Books,Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-933491-09-7
Price: $10.95
Reviewer: Sojourner Ahebee

Path To My African Eyes by Ermila Moodley, published by Just Us Books, deals with the issues of cultural identification and self- love. I thought these were interesting topics to write about because of the global movement of people.

The main character, in Path To My African Eyes, is Thandi Sobukwe. She is a fourteen year-old high school freshman from South Africa. She had to move from Cape Town, South Africa to Buena Vista, California. The reason that Thandi and her family had to move was because her father, who is a professor, got a job to teach in California. Thandi is excited about her new school, country, and culture.

When Thandi first arrives at her new school, some of the students ask her ignorant questions about Africa. She makes it clear that she is from the country of South Africa and that Africa is a vast continent. Also two of her male classmates tease her because she has short hair. They comment by asking Thandi if she is a boy or girl or male or female. She also doesn’t quite fit in with the African- American students either. Her discomfort about herself is both cultural and racial.

Once she arrives in California she meets two friends, at her new school, named Chrystal and Jennifer. These girls are white Americans whose physical features Thandi wants and admires. After one day with them, she completely wants to change her image. She urges her parents to buy her a bike, new clothes, a boogie board, a surfboard, and she sneaks out and relaxes her hair. Her hair is initially short and kinky and her mother preferred it that way for political and cultural reasons.

This book is about the discovery of loving and cherishing yourself, especially when you are in an environment that doesn’t always affirm who you are. I think teens all around the world could relate and enjoy this book. Ms. Moodley extremely connects with the reader not only because the book is written in first person but because these cultural issues of identity are issues many teens face in life. I urge anyone to read this book because I’m sure you will love it and learn a thing or two about yourself and a little about South Africa.
I plan to interview the author, Ermila Moodley, in the near future.

Here's the link to Just Us Books. Check out their other great books.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

High School Student Philip Hayes Wins National Debate and $150,000

Last night at the National Constitution Center, in Philadelphia, the Now Debate This! competition was held. As I shared yesterday, this was the final round and the finalists were Malik Neal of Pennsylvania and Philip Hayes of Texas. It was so exciting to witness a live debate and in one of the grand auditoriums of the National Constitution Center.
The moderator of the debate was Professor Robert George of Princeton University. He was quite impressive. Also there were Dr. Josephine M. Templeton and Dr. John Templeton, who first envisioned the whole idea of young people learning about historical figures like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and debating about their contributions. Ms. Mary Hagy, the executive producer of Now Debate This! gave a warm welcome.
Malik argued that Lincoln was the greatest president and Philip argued that George Washington was the greatest president. I was amazed at how articulate they were and how much knowledge that had managed to keep in their heads. They were both inspirational to me and my friends-Daniel, Gideon, Brandon and Kiera and my brother Auguste. We are all 13 years old or younger and we might just be a participant in Now Debate This! in the future.

Today on Fox News and Friends it was announced that Philip was winner of the debate. He won a$150,000.00 in scholarship money and Malik won $50,000.00 in scholarship money. Here is the link to the Fox News and Friends show with Malik, Philip and Dr. John Templeton. Remember, if you know someone who will be a junior in high school this year, they too can try to participate in this great debating program.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

High School Debaters Compete to Win $150,000.00 in College Scholarships

This past Saturday, I went to an event-an reenactment of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass speeches-at the famed Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia. This was the church started by Richard Allen. Anyway, at this event ,I met Malik Neal ,who is 16 years old and a senior at West Catholic High School.

Malik is a finalist in Now Debate This!, a national competition where students have to debate American history topics. Students from all over the country entered this competition and there were several rounds of competitions, but now the contest is down to Malik from Philly and Philip Hayes from Texas.

The final debate is tonight at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia at 7:00 p.m. Malik will argue that Abraham Lincoln was the best US President and Philip will argue that George Washington was the best president. The public decides the winner. You can attend the event live and for free at the Constitution Center or watch online and vote. The winner gets $150,000.00 in scholarship money and the runner-up gets $50,000.00 in scholarship money.

Malik Neal reminds me a lot of James Farmer, Jr., the youngest debater in the movie The Great Debaters.

Now Debate This! is produced by Pinnacle Performance. Mary Hagy is the President of this organization which specializes in heritage education.

For more information and to see videos of Malik and the other contestants
go to
* Portrait of Lincoln by Robert Shetterly

The National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA

Monday, August 18, 2008

Massive and Majestic; The Paintings of Kehinde Wiley

New York is fabulous and Harlem is vibrant ! As you know, I was planning to go to New York to see the Kehinde Wiley exhibition-The World Stage:Africa Lagos-Dakar. –at the Studio Museum in Harlem. It is absolutely magnificent. All the paintings were created in 2008, so this is his most recent work. For those unfamiliar with Kehinde Wiley, he is the master of blending the new world with the old. He does these massive paintings of contemporary black and brown men in their urban clothing.

My favorite paintings of his are Hunger, Rubin Singleton and Three Wise Men. Kehinde Wiley’s work is very large and very detailed. In Hunger, you feel the pain of the young men in this painting. You feel this through their eyes. One thing about Kehinde Wiley, his paintings are full of strong looking, powerful males of color. They look majestic.
According to the Studio Museum “Wiley is known for his stylized paintings of young, urban African-American men in poses borrowed from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European figurative paintings, a practice he started in the early 2000s while an artist in residence at the Studio Museum. Over the last two years, Wiley has expanded his project by living and working abroad; he temporarily relocates to different countries and opens satellite studios to become familiar with local culture, history and art. His “The World Stage” series is the result of these travels.”

Born in Los Angles in 1977 and educated At Yale University, Kehinde Wiley is based in New York City. His work has the feeling of old master portrait painters such as Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough , Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Titian. The style of Kehinde Wiley’s work is both contemporary and traditional and the black male if always his focus; black males that are commanding.

Kehinde Wiley will be at the Studio Museum, to speak ,sometime in October. You may contact the museum to get more details. I want to thank Amanda, from the Studio Museum, and other staff members for the warm reception they gave me and my Aunt Mona. And I thank my aunt for thinking that it was important that I see this museum and this artist. Thanks ,Tante Mona.

Do try to visit this museum and see Kehinde Wiley because seeing his artwork is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. The exhibition runs through October 26, 2008.

The Studio Museum in Harlem
144 west 125th Street
New York, New York

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ain't Love Grand

When I started this blog, I had decided I would stay away from politics,even though my mom always says that everything is political. Though I am not old enough to vote, I am an Obama supporter. I also like the image of Barack and Michelle. I like to see a couple of color who just oozes togetherness. I think this is a needed image. Have a look at this video of Barack and Micelle. Just click on the link.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The African Presence in the Americas

I’m back on the block! I’ve been away at camp. This was my first overnight camp experience and it was great. I’m ready to roll with the info. My city of Philadelphia, like many cities in the United States, has a growing and diverse Spanish-speaking community. I find this fact very exciting. I play kickball with a couple of boys from the Dominican Republic. I use to go to school with a boy from Costa Rica. I love that I can easily get tamales wrapped in corn husk (Mexican-style) or have tamales wrapped in plantain leaves ( Honduras-style). I love that The Philadelphia Art Museum just had a major exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s paintings. Frida Kahlo was a great Mexican painter. You already know some of the Spanish-speaking music I listen to. ( Check out the sidebar on the left and listen, again,-Lila Downs and the B-Side Players.)
I am slowly getting an appreciation of just how diverse these communities really are. For example, I don’t think most non-Latin Americans know that there are communities of people of African descent in Mexico, Central and South America. On of my favorite writers is Veronica Chambers. She is an African-American of Panamanian descent-her family is from Panama. Veronica Chambers writes about everything including Latin communities in the U.S. Give a read-out to Marisol and Magdalena: The Sound of Our Sisterhood, Quinceanera Means 15 and Celia Cruz; Queen of Salsa. These are great books that feature African-Hispanic characters.

Also, The African-American Museum in Philadelphia is featuring a special exhibition called The African Presence in Mexico; From Yanga to the Present. This exhibition celebrates the African legacy in Mexico and the Americas. The exhibition closes October 25th.

The African-American Museun

701 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106