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Panel to eye shifting perceptions of black culture, politics, ethnicity

An upcoming town hall-style meeting will feature a distinguished panel focusing on how shifting perceptions of black culture, politics and ethnicity has affected the ways blacks are perceived and discussed in today’s national culture.

“From Precious II For Colored Girls,” presented by Rap Sessions, is slated for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 in Preston Geren Auditorium, located in the Langford Architecture Center’s Building B on the Texas A&M campus. The event is sponsored by Texas A&M’s Africana Studies Program, the Memorial Student Center Black Awareness Committee and the College of Architecture, as part of its Year of Diversity initiative.

“The meeting is one of several Year of Diversity events being planned, including lectures, design charrettes and a special session on diversity at the College of Architecture’s fall 2012 faculty research symposium,” said Mardelle Shepley, director of the Center for Health Systems & Design, who is helping to coordinate the events.

Rap Sessions is a national tour engaging the most difficult dialogues facing the hip-hop generation, jumpstarting local debate with panels of leading hip-hop activists, scholars, and artists.

The panel will lead a 90-minute discussion focusing on contemporary moments in popular culture such as films like Lee Daniels’ “Precious,” Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls,” television dramas like “The Wire” and “Treme, ” and hot-button issues like immigration and Islamophobia, where race, image and identity take center stage, in the context of the U.S.’ racial history and future,  

Clips from HBO’s award-winning documentary series “The Black List,” in which African-American luminaries share candid stories and insights into the struggles, triumphs and joys of black life in the U.S., will be used as a springboard for an interactive and timely discussion, in which participants will be asked to consider issues including:

  • Is “racial tolerance” a passé idea as pundits from Glenn Beck to Juan Williams suggest?
  • To what extent does gender and class continue to inform our understanding of race?
  • Has black authenticity as defined through a 1960s lens run its course?
  • How do popular narratives of blackness from Birth of a Nation to Precious impact public policy concerning policing, incarceration, housing and employment?
  • Is there room for the full-range of black political expressions in the American mainstream?
  • Are provocative black images like’s blackface at the 2010 MTV awards overstated or understated?
  • What can students do to move the national discussion of race beyond the black-white paradigm?