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.

Antique Naked Soul featured on Afropunk

YGB Operations Director and CEO of Edutainment for Equity Candice Antique released a new music video on Afropunk.com for a song called "Burn".  Directed by YGB Artistic Director Hodari Davis and also featuring YGB Parents Tommy Shepherd, and Cat Brooks the video traces African American resistance from the Sit ins of the 1950's to the Black Lives Matter Movement of today.  The video is a powerful testimony to the continuation of struggle against forces that seek to oppress the progress of African American people.  The video is currently only available exclusively on the Afropunk website, but will soon be featured on other platforms and available for everyone to see on and off line. We are very excited for this video release and to be so connected to the community of artists that put it together, especially Oaklands own Antique Naked Soul.

Here is the link to the article and the video.



Mr Davis Classroom and Proud2beblack

Proud2beblack is a campaign of the Professional consulting firm Edutainment for Equity to affirm Black Pride and Consciousness into Black people worldwide.  Included in that mission is support for Young Gifted and Black, and the teaching and learning of Black History.  Co CEO and Creative Director of Edutainment for Equity also doubles as a scholar of this history.  His extensive experience makes the addition of Mr Davis Classroom into the Proud2beBlack campaign a logical next step for the work.

In 2017 we were able to offer 6 Mr Davis Classroom sessions in an Oakland shoe store for over 200 participants.  We also facilitated additional sessions in Africa, hosting 2 in Uganda and 1 in both Elmina, Ghana and Arusha, Tanzania.  The Classrooms are designed to provide tools and information meant to decolonize the African mind.  With an emphasis on deconstructing false narratives and Eurocentric ideologies, the experience is an excellent introduction to the power of Black History.  Participants the world over have reported of being transformed by the experience and hungry to learn and know more. 

In 2018 we plan to continue to host Mr Davis Classroom sessions in Oakland and to make them free to attend for youth under the age of 18.  We also intend to facilitate MDC's internationally, in Trinidad and in South Africa.  At Edutainment for Equity we are always trying to find ways to make this information more accessible and inspiring to the next generation.  In that vein we are developing products, tool kits and other resources to further operationalize MDC and YGB.   it is our hope that these strategies and the materials we produce from them can help parents, educators and young people throughout the African diaspora maintain a passion for their history and culture. 


YGB featured on a Grammy Nominated Album


So its unusual that YGB would even appear on an album, but longtime YGB parent and friend Tommy Sheppherd ushered us into this journey by attending a YGB rehearsal and recording the youth.  At the rehearsal Tommy also interviewed YGB Director Laroilyn Davis and talked with the kids about solidarity and ally ship.  Both of these conversations were then placed as interludes including other elements of the rehearsal on the Alphabet Rockers Children's Album Rise Shine Woke.  Our youth were proud to be a part of the experience, and openly shared their perspectives on a number of issues that the album addresses.  Since little Tommy has been a member of YGB for several years, the young people freely participated, including young Zion who subsequently left YGB to continue working on the album.  

Long story short, the album has been named as a finalist to receive the 2018 Grammy Award for Children's Album of the year.  Also included on the album are other Bay Area celebrities, parents and friends of YGB.  Upon hearing the news the youth were very excited.  They all had copies of the album already, and were happy to hear of the national success the record seemed to be having.  The critical part of the album is the way it encourages young people to have conversations that many adults are scared to have.  The record is a marvel in the way that it evokes empathy and solidarity between races and helps create space for a new generation of people to tackle the misunderstandings and insincerity that often cause division in the US and around the world.  YGB is honored to have been part of such an amazing project.

Stay tuned to find out if Alphabet Rockers wins the Grammy.  They have already won the loyalty and respect of YGB.