YGB Transitions to Berkeley

In 2010 YGB was a program of the Oakland Unified School District known as the Oakland Ensemble built in collaboration with the annual OUSD MLK Oratorical Festival.  After one year we became Young Gifted and Black, moving out of OUSD and being housed and supported at the Merritt College Office of African American Studies.  We spent 2 years at Merritt engaging with the rich history of the college and their Black Panther legacy.  It was during this time that the OUSD Office of African American Male Achievement was formed, and served as a key partner to YGB at its inception.   This partnership with AAMA provided the security for our move from Merritt to Oakland School for the Arts and helped maintain our connection with Oakland Unified.  With the support of the administration at OSA, we were given free space and encouraged to recruit youth from outside and inside the school to participate in our work.  This relationship was beneficial both for YGB and for the school, as now many of our members attend or have attended OSA.   With a shift in the administration and their budget priorities, it was made clear that in order to stay at OSA we would have to raise money for the school.  Anyone who has paid attention to the work we do and how we spend the money we raise, could see that this arrangement would not be sustainable for us.   This year we are transitioning out of OSA and remain very appreciative of their generosity over the years in support of our work.  We are thankful to have had this time in collaboration and to close this chapter on our legacy.

For the 2018 - 2019 school year we have been invited to be a part of the 50th Anniversary of Black Studies in the Berkeley Unified Schools District.  We will be holding our rehearsals at Washington Elementary School and Berkeley High School respectively.   We are very excited about engaging YGB in Berkeley, and providing even greater access to the organization for the youth and families of Berkeley Unified Schools District.  We anticipate this transition to be smooth as we have already had many youth from Berkeley as members of YGB including the former Youth Director Ikera Davis and several other YGB founders who attended Berkeley High School. 

YGB will remain open and available for youth and families from Oakland and throughout the Bay Area to join and participate.  We will continue to be present for AAMA and other organizations in Oakland who have maintained a partnership with us and our work.  We will be performing at the Life is Living Festival in West Oakland, and continue our long standing relationships with Sole Space, OMCA, Youth Speaks and other organizations, businesses and agencies that work in Oakland.  This year we plan to make a concerted effort to increase our engagements in Berkeley and are honored to be invited to be housed at another historic foundational department of African American Studies.  We will be a big part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, and help take this Berkeley story everywhere we go during this next school year.  We are excited to raise awareness in Berkeley of our work, and to provide pathways for youth and families to get involved in YGB.  

For information about how to become a part of YGB please explore this website.  If you have youth that want to join, hit the "JOIN" button and fill out the form. If you want YGB to present at your event hit the "BOOK YGB"  button and fill out the form.  We want to remain available for our community to provide a boost of pride and determination for everyone we engage.  

 

YGB is currently accepting new members at all levels.  If interested please press the join button and fill out the form.  We are excited to begin a new chapter in the story of Young Gifted and Black.

$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.  

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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.

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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.