Friday, November 27, 2015

Giving Thanks

Since 2009 we have hosted college students for Thanksgiving dinner, knowing that many can't go home for Thanksgiving. So this year was our 4th at Dillard.

We ended up with 12 students and 2 young alums, the bulk of the group from California. Even year we also host our non-biological daughter Carmela who was a freshman at Philander Smith when we started this tradition, so she has been to all of them.

Lots of good food and fellowship- one of the best days of the year for my family.

The Prez

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Talking about Black Colleges on Black radio

Had a great time this morning at WBOK radio with host Warren Bell as the 3 New Orleans HBCU leaders chopped it up discussing our schools, college choices for students, politics, financing college, etc. I hung out with the Chancellor of SUNO, Dr. Victor Ukpolo, and the president of Xavier, Dr. Reynold Verret. We were just together yesterday for another meeting, and we are all in the same athletic conference as well.

Would be great if we did this quarterly- I enjoyed it.

One of the things that I think is unique about New Orleans is that we have our own HBCU center with Dillard, Xavier and SUNO. While not in the same proximity as the AUC in my hometown, we are all about 10 minutes from each other. So having these 3 schools in this city I think is a plus for us. And we all have different strengths which I believe benefit the city.

The Prez

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanks to #PHI444 Guest MCs (moved the class)

Thanks to these great folks who visited with my class on hip hop, sex, gender and ethical behavior this fall:

Bakari Kitwana, author, "The Hip Hop Generation"-- helped us understand hip hop history after we went to see the movie "Straight Outta Compton"

Dr. Karen Dill Shackelford, media professor, Claremont Graduate School-- she testified before Congress in the Imus aftermath; helped us understand media as culture.

Dr. Monica Miller, religion professor, Lehigh University-- discussed the idea of new black godz and hip hop's God complex

David Banner, rapper and activist-- discussed how Black people have been programmed, so how do we reprogram to love ourselves and see the God in each other

Big KRIT, rapper-- discussed his values and why we need to hear a variety of voices

Dee-1, New Orleans hometown hero rapper-- made us think about why positive lyrics can get banned

Karrine Steffans, NY Times best selling author-- made us question why women can't tell their stories like the men can, or why no one protects women when male rappers use their actual names in songs

Rajul Punjabi, journalist-- explored the idea of cultural appropriation

Carolina Dirty, South Carolina MC and member of group Heresy-- you need to watch this video for their song "Da Call Out" and ask how do we get MORE hip hop like this!

Lady Leshurr, UK rapper-- helped us talk about differences between America and UK for rap and why she wants to be valued based on her flow and not her appearance.

These folks made for a GREAT semester. Working now to line up new MCs for spring 2016.

The Prez

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Senator Cassidy visits political science class

Last week Senator Bill Cassidy visited campus and spoke with a political science class. He engaged them in a good conversation about a variety of issues, even acknowledging potential ideological differences, but committed to engaging his constituents, which is great. I believe the students benefitted greatly, and it is always good for elected officials to engage their constituents.

The Prez

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Happy Birthday Benjamin!

First kid born in US commemorating the election of Barack Obama. Benjamin was born election day at 2:35pm.

The Prez

Monday, November 2, 2015


Last Friday I attended 2 inaugurations in one day. Started off the morning at Saint Augustine's University in Raleigh, where Dr. Everett Ward is president. He is also my fraternity brother whom I have known for years.

Then I drove almost 2 hours to Winston-Salem State where Dr. Elwood Robinson is president. Dr. Robinson has really embraced social media as part of his strategy. So it was a hectic day but I wanted to be part of these events.
The Prez

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Brain Food: Karrine Steffans

The day finally arrived. After the outrage, on line petition, surveys, etc., Karrine Steffans made it to Dillard, and amazingly, one week later, the place is still standing! Definitely a lot I could say, and will another time. But for now, I want to focus on what was a powerful day. We began with a visit to my PHI444 class (hip hop, sex, gender and ethical behavior). Hip Hop is a great vehicle to discuss this because this is an industry where women are routinely exploited.
Karrine is the outlier in that she flipped the script. One of the main questions in the class was her thoughts about it being right (ethically) for her to name names. She questioned why she is attacked for doing what the rappers do in their songs, providing real examples. Her point was that she too was giving them hip hop- just without a beat.
Our special guest was Miss Louisiana 2015, Candice Bennatt. Candice set the tone for the evening quickly since domestic violence was her platform. She shared that she was a victim of teen dating violence. At 16 she suffered a broken jaw and busted ear drum. You could feel the impact of her words in the standing room only crowd. I was pleased she was able to spend a few minutes with us- she is a second year law student at Loyola.

Karrine then came up for the keynote. She broken down violence as a language and started with how judgment is a language that she is all too familiar with. She openly referenced the opposition to her visit, sharing candidly how could those who attacked her by judging her and through social media, trying to tear her down, were essentially too late- her mother had done far worse to her when she was 6. She learned that language early.

But she indicates that when we tear people down we create cracks for predators to enter their lives. So every time we tell people they aren't good enough, or don't look good a certain way, we are using a judgment language that can aid abusers.

She wondered out loud why people instead don't ask her, "What happened to you? Who said what to make you who you are today?"

In a speech that kept a packed room eerily quiet, she recounted the abuse she endured in relationships, but understanding now that the abusers spoke her language. She offered that when people saw why didn't you just leave, is like telling someone to go to Germany and start speaking German- it is not your language. But she asked us to remember that abusers are victims too; it is the language that they learned as kids.

Her warning to us was to be careful what you say to others. Many reckless things were said about her (and me too) after it was announced she would be visiting. But I am thankful for that experience because it helped me to understand why domestic violence is so prevalent in our communities. Our willingness to freely demonize people without knowing their stories sets predators up to do what they do. Hopefully some folks will be slow to judge going forward.

After we finished, Karrine spoke to individuals another 90 minutes, many whispering their shared stories.

And this is why Karrine Steffans came to Dillard, and can come back whenever she likes.

The Prez