Speakers & Performers – 2011

Speakers and Performers


Sanford Biggers

Sanford Biggers, an LA native currently working in NYC, creates artworks that integrate film/video, installation, sculpture, drawing, original music and performance.  He intentionally complicates issues such as hip hop, Buddhism, politics, identity and art history in order to offer new perspectives and associations for established symbols.  Through a multi-disciplinary formal process, and an equally syncretic creative approach, he makes works, or “vignettes,” that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are conceptual.

Biggers’ installations, videos, and performances have appeared in venues worldwide including the Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London, the Whitney Museum and Studio Museum in Harlem in New York, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, as well as institutions in China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Poland and Russia. The artist’s works have been included in several notable exhibitions such as: Prospect 1/ New Orleans Biennial, Illuminations at the Tate Modern, Performa 07 in NY, the Whitney Biennial, and Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem.   Upcoming, he has a solo survey of his work at the Brooklyn Museum and a major installation at Mass MoCA, both slated for late 2011.  He is the recipient of awards and grants from the Creative Capital Foundation, New York Percent for the Arts, Lambent Fellowship in the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Tanne Foundation, and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, among others.

Biggers is Affiliate Faculty at the Virginia Commonwealth University Sculpture and Expanded Media program and was a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s VES Department in 2009. He is presently Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Visual Arts program.

Learn more about this artist at SanfordBiggers.com.

Danielle Brooks

Danielle Brooks is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School, and a proud native of South Carolina. She will be guest starring in a new pilot on Lifetime, and will also be participating in the Primary Stages One- Minute Play Festival this month. Danielle’s Juilliard production credits were Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park, and Last Pair of Earlie’s.

Crystal Z. Campbell

Crystal Z Campbell uses sound, film, sculpture, photography & installation to explore the politics of witnessing. Campbell’s works have been supported by Project Row Houses, the New Children’s Museum of San Diego, Exit Art, Harvestworks, Islip Art Museum, Rutgers University-Mason Gross Gallery, Fotofest Biennial, MoCADA, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Wave Hill and Lui Velasquez in Tijuana. Campbell is a 2003 graduate of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and former artist-in-residence at NES in Iceland and Vermont Studio Center. Campbell is a 2010 Master of Fine Arts (MFA) graduate in Visual Arts from the University of California-San Diego and a 2007 Master of Arts (MA) graduate in Africana Studies from the State University of New York at Albany.

Campbell was a 2010-2011 Van Lier Fellow in Studio Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Find more information on her at crystalzcampbell.com.

Kenyatta Cheese

Kenyatta Cheese is the co-creator of Know Your Meme, a web series and meme database that’s been documenting Internet culture since 2007.  Until 2010, he was the Chief Operations Officer for Rocketboom, the daily international news and entertainment network of online programming based in New York City.

More info on Kenyatta can be found here.


A. Sayeeda Clarke

Sayeeda is a proud native New Yorker and graduate of NYU’s Tisch MFA in Film.  Her current film White, an ITVS FUTURESTATES film is on PBS.org and has screened at SXSW, Tribeca, BAMcinemaFest, New York International Latino Film Festival, with Precious in South Africa at the Tri-Continental Film Festival and with Spike Lee’s Crooklyn at The Brooklyn Bridge Film Series.  Sayeeda’s award-winning films include Sin Salida (on HBO & HBO Latino, American Black Film Festival finalist, craft award at The First Run Film Festival) and The Grey Woman (ASC John Alonzo Heritage Award, premiered at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade, Hallmark short film competition winner).  Sayeeda is currently developing the feature version of White and planning to direct the feature film I’m Not Down.

Dope Sagittarius

Dope Sagittarius are an electro, hip hop, punk rock extravaganza. This three piece unit of Bass, Drums, & Guitar (& computer) is like one mega DJ mixing and blending Hot modern dance floor beats guaranteed to have the party jumping. Utilizing live instruments to create amazing grim, dub step, drum & bass, & breakbeats. M.C. Whistler lyrical flow switches styles so fast that you will do a double take, looking for the DJ.

More on Dope Sagittarius via their Facebook page.


Marcus Dowling

Marcus Dowling is a native Washingtonian with a perpetually voracious appetite for music and popular culture, One of the city’s rising freelance journalists, he sits comfortably at the confluence of the underground and mainstream. Nationally recognized online deal website Scoutmob.com recognizes his eye for the unique and outstanding as a local “culture hunter,” an apt description for his work. Dowling’s words regularly appear on the pages of the Washington City Paper, Pink Line Project, DC cultural megablog Brightest Young Things, internationally recognized urban alternative blog The Couch Sessions and a plethora of other sites. Viewing an issue from what is a rare and/or unexplored side of the prism of opinion has Marcus poised to reach the vanguard in his field in short order.  Check out his LinkedIN profile here.


Howard Duffy

Born in New York City, Howard received his architectural training from Hampton University and Pratt Institute.  Howard founded HTDSTUDIO in 2000, which has since become an internationally recognized, research and design based practice with a mission to bring innovative design excellence to architectural, interior, urban and sustainable design projects. He has won several competitions including the Edward Waters College Library in 2004 and Griffintown Horse Palace Competition in 2010.   He is a Senior Advisor of Urban Cyberspace Co. in New York, Board Member Emeritus of the West Harlem Group, and is included in the permanent collection of the African American Design Archive at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City. In addition to numerous projects currently underway, Howard is working with a Detroit non-profit with promoting job creation, sustainability and hyper-local communities.

Dr. Nat Irvin II

Dr. Irvin is the Strickler executive in residence and professor of management at the College of Business at the University of Louisville. His groundbreaking demographic research has created new paradigms for the future of African Americans in business and has made traditional stereotypes of black consumers obsolete.  Among the profiles of emerging archetypes he has identified are “thrivals,” a new breed of forward-thinking, globally tuned African Americans who bring a “no-limits” approach to doing business. Advertisers and other media use Irvin’s findings to identify new demographic groups and target them with customized messages and opportunities.  In 1996, he founded Future Focus 2020, a non-profit think tank dedicated to examining the impact of upcoming, permanent changes in business, social and economic cultures.  The organization continues to bring futurist thinking to urban America and minority communities.

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess’ first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”  Jess received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-5 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. He won a 2000 – 2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. Jess is an Assistant Professor of English at College of Staten Island and a Cave Canem fellow.

DJ 2-Tone Jones

Earlier this year, DJ 2-Tone Jones teamed up with long-time friend and tastemaker, Gerald Watson, to create Shaolin Jazz: The 37th Chamber, a mix project that involves Jazz fused with verses and samples from the Wu-Tang Clan.  The project has received rave reviews from Okayplayer, NPR and The Washington City Paper.

Download the Shaolin Jazz project here.

A true fundamentals DJ, 2-Tone Jones speaks with his hands as in the tradition of Hip-Hop’s founding element, and through his bottomless crates has rocked parties from LA to NY on down to the ATL and even out in Europe.  On the performance side 2-Tone has shared the stage, and spun alongside, the likes of Raheem DeVaughn, Brand Nubian, Raekwon, Large Professor, Oddisee, Algebra Blessett, Camp Lo, Tracey Lee and Unspoken Heard (Asheru & Blue Black). He was also the DJ-in-residence and artist for Shaman Work Recordings, an independent Hip-Hop music label whose roster included CL Smooth, MF Doom, Wale Oyejide, John Robinson, Scienz of Life, and others.

On Monday nights from 10-11pm 2-Tone is a resident DJ, co-engineer, and co-host for a progressive hip-hop radio show, Ill Street Grooves, part of the Decipher hip-hop strip on DC’s own WPFW 89.3 FM/Pacifica Radio.  Along with a handful of D.C.’s most talented visual artists, Mr. Jones is a founding member of a cutting-edge art troupe/marketing group known as AM Radio: Artwork Mbilashaka. Their client list has included Adidas, Heineken, Toyota, Current TV and Timberland.  He is also a founding member of the Diamond Cutterz, a crew of elite DJ’s from around the DC-metro area.

More on Ill Street Grooves here.

Sierra McClain

Sierra McClain was born and raised in Houston, Texas. At age 22, she became the youngest (and first female) Head of Promotions of Triad Entertainment. That opportunity was a springboard for Sierra and she pooled her resources and contacts from her work at Triad to launch her own promotions/public relations company, Fetch Media, with a partner in 2005. In 2008, Sierra struck out on her own as a freelancer, specializing in bios, press releases and other written works.

Rock music has always been an influence and a passion in Sierra’s life. Even more so, she has always appreciated and promoted people of color within the rock community. Focusing her work on these artists was the breakthrough in her writing career, proving success can be found in doing what one loves. A writer since childhood, her blog, I Write. You Should Read., is a platform for music: interviews, audio/video, features and more. Sierra also pens a regional column on the Black rock website, BoldAsLove.us. With her fingers on the pulse of all things rock, Sierra’s goal is to document and be a voice for the creative renaissance taking place off the beaten path while engaging and uniting brothers and sisters who dare embark upon its journey.

Dominique Morisseau

Dominique Morisseau, Writer and Actress, is a current member of the 2011 Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, and the Lark Playwrights Workshop.   Her play, Follow Me To Nellie’s, was developed at the 2010 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and produced at Premiere Stages in July 2011.  Her produced one-acts include: Third Grade (FTT Festival), Black at Michigan (Cherry Lane Studio/DUTF), Socks, Roses Are Played Out and Love and Nappiness (Center Stage, ATH).  Dominique’s commissions include: love.lies.liberation (The New Group),  Bumrush (Hip Hop Theater Festival) and The Masterpiece (Harlem9/HSA).  Dominique is currently developing a 3-play cycle on her hometown of Detroit, entitled The Detroit Projects.  The first play in the series, Detroit ’67, was developed at The Public Theater and was a finalist for the 2011 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.  The second play in the series, Paradise Blue, was developed June 2011 at the Voice and Vision Retreat/Bard. Dominique has worked as an actress with BET/Viacom, The Lark, Women’s Project, McCarter Theater, NYSAF, and MCC Theater.  Her work has been developed with: the Kennedy Center, African Continuum Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and published in NY Times bestseller- “Chicken Soup for the African American Soul”.  Dominique is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award Honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, a nominee for the Wendy Wasserstein Playwriting Prize, and a runner-up for the 2011 Princess Grace Award.

She can be reached through her Facebook page.

Sian Morson

Sian Morson is the CEO and founder of Kollective Mobile, a mobile development agency in Oakland, CA. She writes and speaks about technology with an emphasis on mobile  development. She holds a BFA from New York University in Film & Television and a MA from Middlesex University in London in Electronic Arts.

Sian is also an internationally-exhibited video artist. Her work deals with issues of race, politics and of course, technology.

Ali Muhammad

Visionary Ali Muhammad turns ideas into realities.

Through his media brand, 21st Century Hustle, Muhammad has inspired ambitious minds since the dawn of this millenium. For his clients and colleagues, he is an indispensable resource for everything unexpected and innovative in urban culture.

After earning a journalism degree from Florida A&M in 1996, Muhammad quickly climbed the corporate ladder at Vibe, first as an intern and finally as Associate Ad Director of Music and Entertainment.Through this post, he developed an influential list of contacts including his mentor and musical icon, Quincy Jones.

When Muhammad wasn’t bolstering the Vibe brand and developing relationships in the music, fashion and entertainment industries, he worked as a music supervisor with Rainforest Films, where earned credits on films such as Stomp the Yard; The Gospel; and the cult classics Trois 2: Pandora’s Box and Trois 3:The Escort.

Muhammad’s visionary ventures continue with 21hustle.com, the online component of 21st Century Hustle magazine, and Hustlevision a digital production company.

Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu is a Kenyan-born artist who creates and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

With a deep investment in the female subject and issues that pertain to the picture of a post-colonial African, Wangechi manages her meta-global dialogues by masterfully unfolding the complexities of gender, culture, and mass media imagery. In Mutu’s haunting works, the female body is a primary site of engagement and provocation. Her elegantly horrific figures lurk in a hybrid world, trapped between consciousness and unconsciousness, silences and noises, life and death, real and unreal.

The artist’s signature aesthetic severs and blends a multitude of sources: medical diagrams, glossy magazines, anthropological and botanical texts, pornographic materials and traditional African arts, travel postcards, and mechanical and hunting publications.

Mutu was the recipient of Deutsche Bank’s first Artist of the Year award (2010). She has exhibited at major institutions worldwide and her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Blanton Museum, Austin, TX; The Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art; and Tate Modern and Saatchi Gallery in London.

Visit her Website wangechimutu.com for more information on this artist.

No Surrender

With roots that go deep into the downtown alternative hip-hop, Afro-Punk, and electro scenes, brooklynites NO SURRENDER have been widely respected for their unique blend of sounds. The group has recorded with Tunde Adebimpe, lead singer of TV on the Radio, Radioclit (Santigold, M.I.A., Bonde Do Role), members of Antibalas, and breakbeat king Freq Nasty (Santigold). The album Medicine Babies— a seamless blend of electro-punk, dance and alt-rap–was released on ZerOKilled in June 2011.

Produced by former Tricky’s muse singer Costanza Francavilla and European production team Radioclit (Santigold, M.I.A The Very Best), Medicine Babies features several guests including TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, New York fixture DJ Monica Sharp, Afro-Punk Brooklynites Apollo Heights and collaborations by cutting edge electronic artists/producers Brando Lupi & Folco Peroni. With the coming of Medicine Babies, everyone will learn the underground’s best-kept secret. And the guys will be more than happy to fill the prescriptions.


Tambay Obenson

Filmmaker, film writer Tambay Obenson self-financed his first feature film, “Beautiful Things,” in 2003; in 2005, inspired by the lack of distribution and awareness for indie films about people of African descent, he formed Voyager Film Company Inc., with his film being the company’s initial release, followed by LA-based filmmaker Brandon Wilson’s “The Man Who Couldn’t.” In conjunction with the forming of the film company, Tambay also created a popular blog called The Obenson Report on Black Cinema, which would serve as both a platform to market his films, but also as a means to critically examine matters related to cinema of the African Diaspora. The blog would gradually gain in popularity, affording Tambay other writing opportunities, notably an op-ed he penned for NPR’s News & Notes, calling for an autonomous black owned and operated film studio in 2007. In accordance with his steadfast belief in collective power, in 2009, Tambay teamed up with other black cinema bloggers to create a single web portal for cinema of the African Diaspora. The new site, called Shadow and Act, has enjoyed great success in the 2 ½ years since its debut, growing to become the primary destination for black cinema on the web. In April 2011, the site joined to prestigious indieWIRE Network of film sites, raising its profile and positively affecting its ability to expand its coverage. In the summer of 2011, Tambay penned several film-related editorials for Interactive One’s The Urban Daily entertainment and lifestyle website. His journalistic inclinations aside, he continues to write fiction, intent on producing more films. He currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

DJ Reborn

DJ Reborn has been moving crowds for over a decade with her mellifluous blend of funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, house, latin, afro-beat,rock, 80’s, electro and more. Based in New York, DJ Reborn has built an amazing career spinning everywhere from concert venues to clubs and museums including the Whitney, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum and the Brooklyn Museum. She’s also spun exclusive events for musical artists Metallica, Maxwell and Lauryn Hill as well as celebrated visual artists Kara Walker and Wangechi Mutu. She has proudly provided customized soundscapes for Eve Ensler’s V-day project as well as staged readings for Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History. Reborn was the international tour DJ for Russell Simmons’ Tony award winning Def Poetry Jam as well as musical director and DJ for renowned actor and playwright Will Power’s off Broadway hit show Flow.

DJ Reborn is a youth mentor and arts educator with Urban Word NYC, where she created a workshop for teenage girls that explores DJing, creative writing and critical analysis of women’s images in media culture.

Amanda Seales

A DJ, Painter, tv/web Personality, Singer/MC, poet and more Amanda Seales (formerly known as Amanda Diva) has successfully made a career out of doing/creating quality work rooted in class, humor, and hip hop.  Starting off as a young actress on Nickelodeon sitcom, “My Brother and Me”, she moved to New York in 1999 was soon writing and performing on the spoken word poetry scene before being chosen to appear on Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam (’02 & ’05). From 2003-2008, she hosted her morning show on Sirius Satellite Radio, “Breakfast at Diva’s”.  During that time she earned her Master’s in African American studies from Columbia University and was the face of hip-hop on MTV2 interviewing close to every relevant hip-hop/R&B artist of the last 10 yrs.  Currently she is developing a tv show based on her own comedy produced by Nick Cannon.  She also continues to appears as a host, comedy commentator and music expert on shows on VH1, Music Choice, and CreativeControl.tv.   In addition Amanda is an accomplished visual artist who shows in exhibits, does live painting events, and has a hand-painted bag line available at DivaWorksofArt.com.  With murals living from Grenada  to Berlin to New York, and highlighted by many media outlets, her work is gaining increasing global recognition.

Catch up with Amanda (if you can!) via her official site.

Wayne Sutton

Wayne Sutton is an entrepreneur, advisor and technology journalist.

Wayne helps individuals, startups and businesses succeed in understanding how to communicate on the social web via web development, user experience, brand strategy and marketing (Mobile and Social). With 10 plus years of experience in internet technology, he has provided counsel to business leaders ranging from founders of small startups and representatives of nonprofit organizations to CEOs of large and small corporations.

Wayne has been featured on CNN.com, BBC, Mashable, BlackEnterprise.com, Web Pro news, The Atlanta Post and various media outlets. His blog SocialWayne.com has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world by Evan Carmichael and Simply Zesty.

Recently Wayne helped co-launch the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which will be featured in the CNN Black in America 4 documentary that will air November 13, 2011.

More on Wayne via his site.

Saidah Baba Talibah

Toronto rock soul songtress Saidah Baba Talibah’s – who’s been described as Living Color-meets-Erykah Badu – debut LP (S)Cream is more than just an album: It’s an experience. The suggestive, choose-your-own-adventure parentheses around the ‘S’ in the album’s title are indicative not only of the album’s lyrical content, but of Saidah as an artist and as a person.

In Saidah’s own words, “(S)Cream is a collection of dreams, daydreams and realities, that speak from a place of fierceness, vulnerability, insecurity and assuredness. (S)Cream has put away all childish games and is all grown up, but is still searching and getting comfortable in all of her cracks and bulges, turn ons and turn offs. This is my coming out as a woman who likes to talk sex & sensuality, broken-heartedness, not taking anymore shit-ed-ness. I growl. I purr. I go to pretty places, harder places and naked places. I wish you joy, despair, heartbreak, inspiration and to be turned on.”

Clearly, her magic worked on the judges of the recent Soundclash Music Awards, where Saidah won the first place, $5,000 prize in the inaugural competition, besting a field of over 250 entrants.

Born and raised in Canada, Saidah Baba Talibah’s music has been greatly influenced by Toronto’s musical and ethnic enclaves. Moreover, the daughter of Salome Bey, Saidah credits the internationally renowned jazz/blues singer and actress for her talent and ambition. In addition to her Tony and Grammy-nominated mother, her uncle, Andy Bey, also a Grammy-nominated musician – she says that growing up in a family where the arts were respected, gave her the confidence to embark on a solo career.

More on her at sbtmusic.com.

Vernon Reid

Vernon Reid, the co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition and founder of double-platinum selling and Grammy Award-winning group Living Colour, is known for his rampant musical eclecticism, having played with artists as diverse stylistically as Mariah Carey and Public Enemy to Mick Jagger and jazz guitarists Bill Frisell.



The dramatic intensity of Tamar-kali’s music defies any traditional genre. Borne from her seemingly endless well of ingenuity it enchants you with its melody, while delivering a swift kick to the gut with its incisive emotional core.

As a composer and vocalist she has defied boundaries and blended styles to craft her own unique sound. Her eclectic influences allow her to lead a raucous 5 piece rock band, an all female experimental string and voice group – Psychochamber Ensemble or take the torch song tradition to a new level with her Pseudoacoustic project.

The uninitiated may have discovered Tamar-kali when she appeared in James Spooner’s award-winning Afro-Punk documentary, with clips of her incendiary performances putting the world on notice to her unsung talent.

Tamar-kali’s voice and vision has been enjoyed by international audiences at Festivals such as the Peiferias Festival – Spain, Sons D’hiver – Paris and Omiala: A Festival of New Black Culture at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre as well as NYC venues Joe’s Pub, HarlemStage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Central Park Summerstage. Her eclectic sound and versatility has allowed her to share stages with a diverse list of artists from Paramore, John Legend, and Cassandra Wilson to Meshell Ndegeocello and Roy Ayers.



Greg Tate

Though he is making a name for himself as the bandleader for experimental jazz/funk/soul orchestra Burnt Sugar, many got to know Greg Tate from his role as Staff Writer at The Village Voice from 1987–2003. In fact, he was recently acknowledged by The Source magazine as one of the “Godfathers of Hiphop Journalism” for his groundbreaking work on the genre’s social, political, economic and cultural implications in the period when most pundits considered it a fad.

His writings on culture and politics have also been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Artforum, Rolling Stone, VIBE, Premiere, Essence, Suede, The Wire, One World, Downbeat, and JazzTimes. His published interviews include dialogues with Miles Davis, George Clinton, Richard Pryor, Carlos Santana, Lenny Kravitz, Erykah Badu, Joni Mitchell, Lisa Bonet, Samuel R Delany, Ice Cube, Betty Carter, King Sunny Ade, to name only a few.

Tate has also written for the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, ICA Boston, ICA London, Museum of Contemporary Art Houston, The Studio Museum In Harlem, The Gagosian Gallery, Deitch Projects and the Tate Museums London and Liverpool. His writing about visual art includes monographs and essays about Chris Ofili. Wangechi Mutu, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ellen Gallagher, Kehinde Wiley and Ramm El Zee.

His books include Everything But The Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture (Harlem Moon/Random House, 2003), Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and The Black Experience (Acapella/Lawrence Hill, 2003); Flyboy In The Buttermilk: Essays on American Culture (Simon and Shuster, 1993). Next year Duke University Press will publish Flyboy 2:The Greg Tate Reader. He recently completed The 100 Best Hiphop Lyrics for Penguin and is now working on a book about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, for Riverhead Press.

More info on Burnt Sugar is here.


Toure is a novelist, essayist, music journalist, cultural critic, and television personality. He is the host of Fuse’s Hiphop Shop and On The Record. He is also a contributor to MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, serves on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, and is a member of the Adjunct Faculty of the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Touré has written three books: The Portable Promised Land (2003), Soul City (2004), and Never Drank the Kool-Aid (2006). In September 2011 Free Press will publish Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?, a look at modern Black identity.

Baratunde Thurston

Baratunde Thurston is a politically-active, technology-loving comedian from the future. He co-founded the black political blog, Jack and Jill Politics and serves as Director of Digital for The Onion. He has written for Vanity Fair and the UK Independent, hosted Popular Science’s Future Of on Discovery Science and appears on cable news regularly to say smart things in funny ways. Then-candidate Barack Obama called him “someone I need to know.” He travels the world speaking and advising and performs standup regularly in NYC. He resides in Brooklyn, lives on Twitter and has over 30 years experience being black. His first book, How To Be Black, will be published in February 2012 by Harper Collins. More about Baratunde and his exploits can be found at baratunde.com.

Imani Uzuri

photo credit: Yossi Michaeli

Recently featured in the New York Times, vocalist/composer Imani Uzuri is an eclectic artist who creates, performs and collaborates across various genres including concerts, experimental theater, recordings, visual/performance art and sound installations. She has performed at numerous international venues/festivals from Morocco to Moscow; from Lincoln Center to The United Nations including a recent special solo performance at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Television appearances include David Letterman and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots.

Her diverse collaborators include musicians ranging from Herbie Hancock, Vijay Iyer, Talib Kweli and John Legend; to noted visual artists Wangechi Mutu and Sanford Biggers. Uzuri’s nomadic world travels, and her interest in sacred music and experimentation is reflected in her various projects including her critically acclaimed debut album Her Holy Water: A Black Girl’s Rock Opera. New York Magazine has called her work “stunning”.

Her forthcoming new album The Gypsy Diaries, which features vocals, violin, cello, acoustic guitar, sitar and daf, is a lyrical and spiritual soundscape.


Elon James White

Elon James White, Editor in Chief of ThisWeekinBlackness.com,  is a Brooklyn-based comedian, writer and host of the award-winning web series This Week in Blackness, a satirical look at race, politics and pop-culture in a so-called “post-racial” America. White has been a featured commentator on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, VH1’s “Black to the Future” & “The Great Debate.”His commentary on race and politics has been featured on CNN.com, Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, Giant Magazine, Alternet & The Root. Praised as “The perfect comedian for the Obama era, talking race while exploding racial stereotypes” by Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry on Politco.com & as “Precise, thought provoking and hilarious” by Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead, White continues to win accolades from critics, academia and audiences alike.

White was the recipient of four 2009 Black Weblog Awards, including Best Humor Blog, Best MicroBlog (Twitter), Best Video Blog and Blog of the Year.  He has been featured in The NY Observer, NY Post, Gothamist, Newsweek and Gawker and has appeared on ComedyCentral.com and Sirius Satellite Radio. White’s festival appearances include the 2010 SF Sketchfest, 2010 Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, 2010 NC Comedy Arts Fest, 2009 LA Comedy Festival and more. He is currently on a Post-Racial College Tour and a featured contributor on Salon & Newsone.  More on Elon at elonjamesisnotwhite DOT com.

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