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praxis

Robust Imaginaries
             +
Informed Practice

Welcome to the Praxis Center, an online resource center for scholars, activists and artists hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College. From action research and radical scholarship to engaged teaching and grassroots activism to community and cultural organizing, and revelatory art practice, we make visible imperative social justice work being done today.

Praxis is
the synergy between
theory and practice,
knowledge and relevance,
ideas, images, and the real.

Contact

Karla Aguilar
Program Coordinator
Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership
karla.aguilar@kzoo.edu
269-337-7033

Join Our Network

 

 

Keorapetse Kgositsile on Exile, Art, and Freedom: “What I write defines who I am”

By Alice Kim, Editor

Keorapetse Kgositsile, a world-renowned South African poet and activist, began his writing career as a journalist for the newspaper, New Age, a leading voice in the struggle against apartheid published from Johannesburg. From 1962 to 1975, he lived in exile in the United States during which time he earned an MFA in poetry from Columbia University and published his first collection of poems, Spirits Unchained, as well as another influential collection, My Name is Afrika. He became established as a poet in the Black Arts Movement, both influencing the movement and being influenced by it. From exile, he later founded the African National Congress’ Departments of Education and Arts and Culture. For years, his work was banned in apartheid South Africa. He returned to his homeland after the fall of apartheid and was inaugurated as South Africa’s National Poet Laureate in 2006.

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the South African Poet Laureate last month at the Without Borders conference hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. His love of language, his no-nonsense approach to politics, and his big heart were easy to see. Here, Keorapetse Kgositsile shares his unabashed insights on exile, art and freedom.

Alice Kim: All these years, you’ve remained both a writer and a political activist. I’d love for you to talk about the relationship between art and activism, but first, why do you write? Continue reading →

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Hip-hop and Ferguson: Black Rage, Don’t Shoot, Be Free

By Stephanie Shonekan

In recent years, there has been a growing fear among some black music scholars, critics, practitioners, and partakers that its power as a significant expressive outlet for the community has been eroded. Commercialization, globalization, capitalism, media mania, and a voracious music industry have resulted in a trend that glorifies “booties,” “bling,” “beef,” and “Benjamins.”

From its roots in West Africa, art and music have always been an integral part of black life. Over time, wherever the Diaspora spread, the music remained functional, responding to the needs of the people to tell stories, recite histories, complement worship, aid work and labor, enhance celebration, and urge action against the evolving manifestations of oppression and racism.

African American artists like Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye created compelling beautiful music that commented on the experience of blackness in a tense racialized environment. From the late 1970s and into the 1990s hip hop artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Eric B and Rakim, NWA, Black Star, and Dead Prez continued the tradition. Continue reading →

Comments on Hip-hop and Ferguson: Black Rage, Don’t Shoot, Be Free

Stephanie Shonekan says:

As the writer of the article, I completely agree with your comment (Rosa Clemente). My piece focused mainly on the so-called “mainstream” artists, but I do recognize the ongoing work that has gone on within the realm of hip hop. I’m glad you have raised this important point and that you have cited some of the incredible artists and activists who are on the ground doing important work.

I do appreciate this article but it fails to mention Talib Kweli, Jasiri X, Rebel Diaz, Peace Poets, and the numerous Hip Hop journalists and activists that went down and are continuing to go down, unlike the artists mentioned above the artists I mention and the many of us in the Hip Hop community did not address it once nor just make a song about it but are part of long term organizing efforts with organizations like dream defenders, OBS and Black Youth Project, Black lives matter and outgrowth… that must be seen within a Hip Hop political context.

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Cities In Revolt: Detroit

By Shea Howell

Shea Howell, an educator, activist and founding member of the Boggs Center, shares her remarks from a plenary session at the recently convened With/Out – ¿Borders? conference hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College. This is the first in a three-part series on “Cities in Revolt.”

The battle for the kind of country we are becoming is being fought in our cities. Cities, especially those shaped in the traditions of African American and progressive struggles, are under assault. Corporate forces committed to the protection of the power and privilege of an increasingly smaller, whiter, and wealthier elite are attacking cities in an effort to turn them into centers of profit and play.

Central to this attack is the displacement and removal of people who have been in the forefront of developing new ways of living in places long abandoned by capital. Now, as resources are becoming increasingly scarce, finance capital is finding new ways to extract wealth from urban centers. Continue reading →

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