The Johns Hopkins Gazette: January 26, 1998

Jan. 26, 1998
VOL. 27, NO. 19


Roots And Race

Kasandrah Baynes says Black History Month is the time tounderstand un common roots

Leslie Rice
News and Information

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

One of the more underdiscussed topics in the dialogue on race issues, says Hopkins senior Kasandrah Baynes, is the experience of black immigrants in America.

Baynes, chairwoman of the Hopkins Black Student Union's Black History Month, wants to change that. "Bound by Our Roots: African Diaspora in America," the program she has devised for February's monthlong celebration on the Homewood campus, is a series of talks, discussions, films and events that address the universal black experience, not just that of black Americans.

"I wanted to explore the idea of African diaspora because at Hopkins, although I doubt if there are any statistics on this, most of the blacks on campus are first- or second-generation immigrants, or immigrants themselves. For example, there are very large populations of Nigerian-American students, Caribbean-American students, students whose parents come from all sorts of countries," says Baynes, whose mother is Jamaican and father Guyanese.

"You may not know it just by looking at us, because we all just look black, but we have different histories, different cultures, different perspectives. There seems to be a hunger for that to be addressed on this campus, to knock down the assumption that just because you're black you have identical experiences."

"I wanted to explore the idea of African diaspora," says Kasandrah Baynes, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering and chairwoman of the Hopkins Black Student Union's Black History Month events, which begin Friday."You may not know it just by looking at us [black students], but we have different histories, different cultures, different perspectives."

Throughout the month, students, faculty and guest speakers will sink their teeth into topics such as ethnic strife in Rwanda, placebo testing in Africa and tensions between blacks and Asians in America.

One of the highlights will be a talk on Wednesday, Feb. 18, by Cornel West, the Harvard University professor whose studies on race issues are considered some of the most important of our time. West has written 12 books, including Jews and Blacks, Restoring Hope and Race Matters, and has an upcoming book, The War Against Parents, co-authored with Sylvia Ann Hewlett.

Another event already generating excitement is a poetry/jazz reading by Amiri Baraka, on Friday evening, Feb. 13.

"Earlier this year, during CultureFest, we had a similar poetry/jazz reading by an artist not nearly as well-known as Amiri Baraka, and the turnout was amazing. The Great Hall was packed," says Baynes. "There seems to be a renewed interest in that style of jazzy poetry with political undertones. It's pretty popular."

Baraka, formerly known as LeRoi Jones, was an original member of the Black Panther Party and has been a figure on the American political and literary landscape for over 30 years. He has produced over 20 plays, written three jazz operas, seven non-fiction books, two novels and 13 volumes of poetry. Among the many awards and honors he has won are an Obie, a Pen-Faulkner and a Langston Hughes.

Following is the schedule of events for Black History Month. Free lunches are provided for the first 20 people to all lunch discussions. All events take place on the Homewood campus and are free unless otherwise noted. For more information about any of these programs, call 410-516-5435.

Schedule of Events Friday, Jan. 30, noon, Glass Pavilion
Opening ceremony, with performances by Hopkins student performance groups. Refreshments.

Monday, Feb.2, noon, Garrett Room, MSE Library
"Placebo Testing in Developing Countries," a brown bag lunch with Taha Taha, field director of international study in the School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 8:30 p.m., AMR TV Room
"Shell Company in Nigeria," a talk on the Shell Company's practices in Nigeria, with video footage just smuggled out of that country.

Thursday, Feb. 5, noon, Garrett Room, MSEL
"Ethnic Conflict in Rwanda," a brown bag lunch with speaker to be announced.

Thursday, Feb. 5, 8 p.m., Garrett Room, MSEL
"Black Hispanics," a talk by Carol Gibbs, Washington, D.C., expert on the social movements of blacks in Mexico.

Monday, Feb. 9, 6 p.m., Great Hall, Levering Hall
Sankofa Dance Clinic. Learn the exciting and rhythmic moves of the Sankofa Dance Company and practice with the group as it rehearses for its Feb. 21 Hopkins performance.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, noon, Garrett Room, MSEL
"African-American Strengths," a brown bag lunch with Robert Hill, of the Institute of Urban Research, Morgan State University, and author of the book with the same title.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m., Glass Pavilion
Hair and beauty show by Barry Fletcher, nationally acclaimed Washington, D.C., stylist featured in the January 1998 issue of Essence. Hair and beauty products available for purchase. Some members of audience will be selected for a free styling session. $3.

Thursday, Feb.12, noon, Garrett Room, MSEL
"Witness to Slavery," a brown bag lunch with Gregory Kane, author of the book with the same title and columnist for The Sun.

Thursday, Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m., Garrett Room, MSEL
Art show featuring Baltimore artists and a collection of priceless art work and sculptures. Some work will be available for purchase. Refreshments will be served.

Friday, Feb. 13, 8 p.m., Shriver Auditorium
Poetry night featuring poet, playwright and former Black Panther Amiri Baraka, followed by an open microphone for readings. Special thanks to the Writing Seminars, the English Department and Zeniada literary magazine.

Friday, Feb. 13, after the poetry reading, Great Hall, Levering Hall
Caribbean Spice Night, with Caribbean rhythms, sponsored by E-Level, Caribbean Cultural Society, Black Student Union. $2 per person.

Tuesday, Feb. 17, noon, Garrett Room, MSEL
"Slavery in America," a brown bag lunch with Elmer Martin, director of Baltimore's Blacks in Wax Museum.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m., Shriver Auditorium
Martin Luther King Jr. convocation featuring Cornel West of Harvard University's African American Studies Department. Special thanks to the Planning Committee and the departments of Anthropology, History, Political Science and Sociology.

Thursday, Feb. 19, noon, Garrett Room, MSEL
"Effect of Slavery in the Caribbean," a brown bag lunch with Frank Knight, Department of History.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m., Shriver Auditorium
A performance by the Sankofa Dance Company. Free for JHU students with ID. Tickets must be picked up by 5 p.m., Feb. 20, in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Merryman Hall.

Monday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m., Garrett Room, MSEL
"Asian-African Relations," a discussion with Evelyn Hu-Dehart, professor and dean of Multi-Ethnic Studies at Colorado State University. Co-sponsored by Korean Students Association, Chinese Students Association, Black Student Union.

Tuesday, Feb. 24, noon, Garrett Room, MSEL
"Affirmative Action," a brown bag lunch with Evelyn Hu-Dehart, professor and dean of Multi-Ethnic Studies at Colorado State University.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 4 p.m., Garrett Room, MSEL
Get on the Bus, Spike Lee's movie about the Million Man March, followed by discussion and refreshments.

Friday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m., Arellano Theater, Levering Hall
"Wild and Wacky Apollo Night," a talent show with a chance to win up to $100 for first place. Free. Followed by "The After Party of our Lives," $2 per person or free with ticket to Feb. 28 closing ceremony dinner.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m., Glass Pavilion
Closing ceremony. The annual African Heritage Dinner (and Theater), featuring all-you-can-eat, west and east, Caribbean and American soul food, with a performance by Hopkins theater students from the play The Owl Killer. Tickets, $10.