$93 for YGB A Fundraiser

Young Gifted and Black of Oakland has launched a month long on line fundraising campaign to raise money for their work of bringing black history and pride to the world.   This years campaign is called $93 for YGB to honor the 93rd birthday of Malcolm X.  We are sure the work we do to promote and teach black history, and to stand in solidarity with seekers of justice is consistent with the legacy of our great ancestor.  Armed with his words and the words of his elders, contemporaries and followers, YGB spreads our love for ourselves and pride in where we come from, to institutions throughout the Bay Area.  


In our 8 years of operation we have never received any grants.  Our income to make our rehearsals and performances happen comes from our generous community of supporters including parents of the youth, institutions that book us to present, and the money we raise from individuals who believe in what we do.

This Fundraising campaign is supported by the parents of YGB, Edutainment For Equity, and co sponsored by Red Bay Coffee, who has agreed to provide a bag of coffee for everyone who donates $93 to our campaign.  We are encouraging those who really want to support in a larger way to become Fan Fundraisers on our rally.org/younggiftedandblack platform and help us raise resources to support our work.  Your participation will ensure that this campaign is a success, and that we can start the year strong in the fall.

Young Gifted and Black is run exclusively by volunteers.  As another group of our founding members transitions into college, we are focused on sustaining the program by building on the legacy they are leaving for another generation of Oakland youth.  Your contributions and consistent effort to keep these young people engaged does wonders for their lives and for the lives of those they encounter.  Thank you for your years of support.  Please donate to the $93 for YGB campaign.

Educating the Black Child

Combatting White Supremacy at the Source

I know a parent who worked hard to educate his 5 year old daughter about the importance of her Black identity.  He purchased books with strong images of Black girls, he showed her Akilah and the Bee and other films focused on elevating the esteem and confidence of Black girls.  He got her Black dolls and created opportunities to affirm the beauty of her skin and hair.  He was sure he had done enough to help provide her with a strong foundation for her Black identity.

One day after Day Care he picked her up from school and she immediately started talking to him about Aurora.  Apparently Aurora was her daughters new best friend, or so he thought.  He soon discovered Aurora was more than a friend, Aurora had become an aspiration.  Aurora was beautiful, and smart, and her skin was pretty and she was a Princess.  Soon his daughter was telling him that Aurora was more beautiful that she was.  Imagine his shock when he discovered Aurora was a Disney Character, and like a precision bomb had exploded White Supremacy all over the mind of his beautiful Black daughter.  He was outraged, and he took his outrage to his daughters day car provider.  As soon as he walked into her space he knew he had found the source of this identity confusion.  There she was in all her White Supreme glory, Aurora and her sisters.   Posters on the wall, books on the shelves, costumes in the cubby holes, and an excited young educator who was using this and her personal love for it as a vehicle to capture the imagination of her students, ... one of whom was his young Black daughter.  


This story is all too familiar, and only a by product of larger social inequities related to race and representation.  While the larger society and the institutions there in grapple with the relics of the Jim Crow past that still exist in curriculum around the country, the onus falls on Black parents and educators to find and develop tools, and techniques to help protect the minds of Black children,  and to affirm their unique identities.  These tools need to be informed by research, replicated and distributed in Black communities around the world.  

Edutainment for Equity is committed to identifying the best practices for achieving the education of Black children.  We are leading bi-monthly conversations with scholars, artists, educators and activists, searching for strategies, model programs and effective engagements.  We are also volunteering to support the youth and families of Young Gifted and Black of Oakland, and developing tools for empowering black youth through this channel. We teach a series of Black History classes called Mr. Davis Classroom focused on filling holes left in the understanding of Black people of all ages who were misinformed about the history of African people.  Lastly we are working on designing outstanding media to extend this education through videos of the conversations, clips from Mr. Davis Classroom and music videos from our media team.  We want to provide tools for Black children to have stronger identities; for Parents to affirm those identities and for educators to be more effective in their work with Black children.  This is a small part of the larger work of Edutainment for Equity.

YGB is an example of educational strategies that work.  Check them out here and book them on this website.

YGB and Black History Month

For 2018 YGB performed in over 15 different schools, events and activities dedicated to celebrating Black History Month.  We always use the month to perform the pieces that help walk people through the history of our struggles.  This year we featured old pieces like We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Negritude, by James Emanuel and Who Can Be Born Black by Mari Evans.  We also performed pieces by Lauryn Hill, Erica Badu, and some of our signature originals.  We toured two groups, the Kids and our older group made up of many of the former Kings and Sheroes.  Some of the places we visited included University High School, Bentley High School and Oakland School for the Arts.  We also performed in several elementary schools in Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro and San Francisco, and we were featured in events at the Asian Cultural Center, and the De Young Museum.   We are thankful to our community of supporters and those who continue to book us year after year to represent our voices and contribute to your events.  We have a series of shows coming up in the next month, before we focus on preparing for an end of the year celebration for YGB.  More on that to come.


DarkStar Universe and E4E

When African and African American children think about superheroes or an imaginary future what models exist for them to aspire to.  The movie and television industry is riddled with new champions of liberty and freedom, but too often these characters are portrayed as side kicks or subordinates and do not present young people with models they can follow.  Black girls especially lack adequate examples of imaginary characters who live lives of substance in impact in some future or past world.  Many times in science fiction, black people in particular and black women specifically are conspicuously absent.

One series that has been traditionally inclusive of images of Black male heroes is Star Wars.  Since early on in the story, Black male characters have appeared as important characters and helped to elevate the story and the film in the African American community.  Though Star Wars captured the imagination of many young Black boys, Black girls will still left without an image or an character to rally behind.

Edutainment for Equity has been engaged in a number of projects aimed at restoring pride in Black people.  From the media of Antique Naked Soul to the art and performance of Young Gifted and Black of Oakland, E4E works on designing products and programming to forward pride as a tool of healing and restoration.  Much of the work with adults centers around creating and training allies to be more effective and impactful, by providing them with insight and frameworks to improve their professional and inter-personal practices.  With the youth our work has been about arming them with history, poetry, and songs that serve as tools of instruction and platforms for the expression of their identities.  

Town Futurist has been a key media production partner for E4E, assisting in the creation of much of the video content, in archiving documentation and producing events.   Together they have created a number of great films including "Burn", "Remember", and "Nappy".  In partnership with Refa One of Aerosoul and the founders of the online platform Black Girls Create, "Dark Star Universe" is an art project that includes the development of customized Star Wars characters, stories and worlds that forward a Black identity.  The central stories follow two main characters, Admiral Nommo formerly of the Galactic Empire and General Asan Tewa Jedi Knight and former pad wan to Mace Windu.  

The DarkStarUniverse.com project is currently in development and fundraising stage, including the design and facilitation of a curriculum to build dioramas of other worlds with Black children.  The project is aimed at kids who are 5 - 15 and will include workshops, stop motion films, animation, children books and eventually even a full length film.  We are inventing characters and stories that will be inspiring to Black youth and will empower them to see themselves in an imagined future.  We are just at the beginning stages, with plans to incorporate the music of Antique Naked Soul and much more of the customized art of Refa One and Aerosoul. 

YGB 2017

2017 was a powerful year for YGB.  We started the year off with a dynamic performance at the Oscar Grant Vigil, followed by an all hands on deck performance at Nourse Theater.  As part of a ceremony and celebration for the end of our Artistic Directors time as the National Program Director for Youth Speaks, YGB performed several of our pieces in front of an audience of about 2800 people.  Our entire YGB community attended the event and all groups performed on stage.  Hodari was introduced at the event by youth director Ikera Davis, and given flowers.  He made a brief speech and made it clear that the future of his work in this area was with YGB. 

During Black History Month YGB had over 20 performances including the inaugural kickoff for the Edutainment for Equity Critical Conversations and the start of the Mr Davis Classroom series.  YGB went through other transitions as well when leaders of YBK returned to the pursuit of their individual athletic and artistic interests and stopped performing as the Young Black Kings.  The remaining members continue to perform with the Sheroes as a unified crew.  Additionally, in 2017 we recorded many of the YGB pieces at Zoo Labs as part of an Arts Residency program for the YGB Directors.  These high level recordings will be part of the roll out of YGB products later down the line.  The residency offered business development training, recording and networking opportunities and a chance for YGB members to experience a professional recording studio.  

Another highlight of the year that was a by product of the Zoo Labs residency was meeting and collaborating with the Alphabet Rockers.  They use Hip Hop to teacher solidarity, cultural mindfulness and social justice to kids under the age of 8.  The Rockers attended several YGB rehearsals and recorded bits of the process for their Grammy Nominated Album Rise Shine Woke.  The record begins with words from YGB Director Laroilyn Davis, and  includes the voices of the kids throughout.  It is a great album and we were honored to be a part of the process.

YGB was officially invited to attend the Emancipation Day Ceremonies in Trinidad and Tobago.  Artistic Director Hodari Davis and Operations Director Candice Antique Davis traveled to Trinidad this summer to scout locations, attend the ceremonies and generally provide reconnaissance for the group.  For the past 3 international tours we have gone to Ghana, West Africa and visited the historic and significant sites there.  This trip will offer YGB a chance to engage with the African diaspora, get a sense of how other people in the Western Hemisphere regard and honor slavery, and experience another iteration of African culture, including visiting pan yards, museums and performing at the Tobago Heritage Festival.  We are very excited for our trip to Trinidad in 2018.

YGB continues to meet and rehearse at Oakland School for the Arts.  In 2017 we entered a partnership with their Step Up program, which is an outreach program of the school to encourage kids to audition and apply.  YGB provided introductory instruction for many of the youth who self selected to participation through Step Up.  We were honored to be a part of the process of recruiting these creative kids to attend OSA.

As we dig in to 2018 we are happy to begin this process again, and get started spreading the word about the importance of Black History. We have an exciting year ahead of us.  Please continue to support our work.