On March 31, Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, guest hosted The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA Radio. During the program, Moffitt led a cultural roundtable segment on youth and social media and Confederate flags on license plates. Donald Snyder, senior lecturer of media and communication studies who developed and teaches a course entitled Social Media: Networking and Mobility, participated in the engaging discussion and reflected on the meaning of social media for today’s youth.
“People made questionable decisions before social media. The key distinction is that social media creates a sort of permanence to those bad decisions,” Snyder said. “And in thinking about that issue, the point becomes in terms of the young people, is making sure they are understanding the implications of the decisions they make.”
Other panelists included Catalina Byrd, media consultant, political strategist, and co-host of “No Hooks for the Hip-Hop Chronicles” on WEAA and Dr. Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, assistant professor of communication and affiliate assistant professor of African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland. To listen to the segment in its entirety, click here.
A film by Bill Shewbridge and Michelle Stefano has been selected to be screened at several prestigious film festivals in May and June. Produced by Shewbridge, professor of the practice of media and communication studies, and Stefano, visiting assistant professor of American studies, Mill Stories: Remembering Sparrows Point Steel Mill is a documentary based on the stories gathered through the “Mill Stories” project. The project seeks to document the sociocultural impacts of industrial decline and help amplify the voices of those affected by it in the Baltimore region.
The documentary has been selected to screen at three upcoming film festivals: the 14th Royal Anthropological Institute International Festival of Ethnographic Film (Bristol, UK, June 16-19, 2015), the 12th International Congress of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) Film Program (Zagreb, Croatia, June 22-24, 2015), and the Workers Unite! Film Festival in New York City (May 19, 2015).
Locally, on April 28, Mill Stories is scheduled to be screened at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park from 6-8 p.m. For more information on the event, click here. For more information on the “Mill Stories” project, click here.
In February, Smithsonian Folkways released Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, a box set and book dedicated to Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter – an influential country musician in the early twentieth century. Clifford Murphy, an ethnomusicologist and adjunct lecturer of American studies, published an article in The Conversation which examined Lead Belly’s legacy and lasting cultural impact.
“But beyond his influence on (mainly white) musical artists, the collection is significant because it shows how Lead Belly defied the racial categories of blues and country (as black music and white music, respectively) – stereotypes established by the burgeoning record industry of the Jim Crow era that persist today,” Murphy wrote.
In the article, Murphy honored Lead Belly’s influential musical legacy an analyzed the cultural context in which he performed.
“Thankfully, Lead Belly’s Smithsonian Folkways Collection defies those cultural reductionists who would suggest that firm racial categories of blues and country ever truly existed, and that “traditional” singers were uninterested in – or, worse, corrupted by – popular music. The set’s 108 tracks may be a small sampling (Lead Belly claimed to be able to sing 500 songs without repeating one – and he likely knew far more). But a bi-cultural reality glimmers within the set’s five CDs,” Murphy added.
To read the full article titled “Lead Belly’s music defied racial categorization,” click here.
In response to legislation being tabled that would have allowed Baltimore City schools’ police force to carry handguns while working inside or patrolling school buildings, Kimberly Moffitt published an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun outlining her viewpoints on the issue. Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, previously discussed her thoughts on the legislation on WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show.
In her article, Moffitt wrote about the importance of guidance and affirmation of self-worth of school children: “…as a community we should come together to strategize ways to cultivate healthy relationships with students and ensure the necessary support mechanisms are in place to help those most in need. Let’s use the energy that surrounded the gun legislation to strengthen the educational, psychological and social needs of the students, rather than compounding anxiety in an already stress-filled environment.”
To read Moffitt’s full op-ed titled “Black children are not the enemy,” click here.
On February 26, WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show hosted a discussion on a bill before Maryland legislators that would lift restrictions on when police officers could carry their weapons, which would allow them to carry their weapons in schools.
Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, discussed her conflicting thoughts on the issue because of her respect for many police officers and educators who say it is necessary, but also her viewpoint as a parent of two children in the schools.
“Where does the slippery slope take us and what might happen as a result? One of my biggest concerns, coming from the perspective of a parent…because of some of the energy around how we perceive our children, in particular black boys…what happens when the first victim of such a shooting happens to be one of our students and not necessarily an intruder?” Moffitt said. The listen to the full segment, click here.
On February 20, Moffitt co-hosted The Marc Steiner Show and facilitated discussions on a new play, “Make Yourself at Home,” running at Baltimore’s Annex Theater, and how to teach children black history outside the context of schools. To listen to the segments, click here.
In a recent article published in the “City Folk” section of City Paper, Michelle Stefano, visiting assistant professor of American studies, wrote about Henry Reisinger, the longtime owner of E.M. Fenwick’s Choice Meats in Baltimore’s Cross Street Market.
Stefano’s profile of Reisinger traces the history of the business and the hard work Reisinger has put into it for four decades. It also provides a glimpse into how the market business has changed in recent years.
“Reisinger tells of the old days, when there were six or seven meat vendors at the market. Now, there remains only Fenwick’s and his competition, Nunnally Bros., just down the path. ‘Unfortunately, we have a lot of empty businesses now,’ he laments, crediting the vacant stalls to the introduction of fast food in the 1980s, and the fact that ‘droves’ of workers from places like the shipyards off Key Highway are a lunchtime dream of the past. Camden Yards was full of businesses with employees patronizing the market—’now? It’s two stadiums,’ he says.”
To read more about Henry Reisinger in Stefano’s article titled “Henry Reisinger of E.M. Fenwick’s Choice Meats carves out a good life at Cross Street Market,” click here.
WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show hosted a panel discussion on February 9 on charter schools vs. traditional public schools, school closings, school funding, and the future of education.
Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies and a founding parent at the Baltimore Collegiate School For Boys, discussed her views on charter schools and the reason she decided to help found the Baltimore Collegiate School For Boys.
“Even as I’m someone who is at the table creating a charter school, I’m very cognizant of charter schools are not the panacea,” Moffitt said. “It was more about a mission that was very much tied to the academic research that I do that looks at what we have done in this country for young black males and the need to really focus educational opportunities for them in environments that help them thrive.”
Other panelists in the discussion included Jessica T. Shiller, professor of urban education at Towson University, Roni Ellington, associate professor of mathematics education at Morgan State University, and Bobbi Macdonald, executive director of the City Neighbors Foundation.
To listen to the full segment, click here.