African American Children, Academic Achievement & Parental Involvement

Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka,  Buffett Early Child Institute, University Nebraska; Keith Robinson, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Population Research Center, University of Texas Austin

Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka, Director of Research and Evaluation at the Buffett Early Child Institute at the University Nebraska discusses the role of parental participation in the academic success of African American children in her talk “Pathway to Excellence for Black Children?: Critical Examination of Family Engagement.” Her presentation was followed by Dr. Keith Robinson, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas-Austin, who presented his current research findings on: “Parental Involvement in Children’s Schooling: What Works and What Doesn’t”.

Racism & Mental Health: A Study of African American College Students During the Transition to Young Adulthood

Dr. Enrique Neblett, Associate Professor of Psychology, IAAR Faculty Fellow, UNC-CH

Dr. Enrique Neblett, Associate Professor of Psychology at UNC-CH and a 2014-15 IAAR Faculty Fellow presents his ongoing research on mental health outcomes for young adult African American college students who experience racism. While a fellow at IAAR Dr. Neblett is developing a research grant to pursue further work on this study.

Structures of Ferguson: Race, History, and Mobilization

Featured Panelists Frank Baumgartner (UNC, Political Science), Mai Nguyen (UNC, City and Regional Planning), Donna Marie Winn (Frank Porter Graham Child Dev Inst), Blair Kelley (NCSU, Dept of History), and Ted Shaw (UNC, School of Law, Ctr for Civil Rights)

The recent killing of the young African American male, Mike Brown, and related events in Ferguson, Missouri were at the center of a September 8th panel discussion co-hosted by the IAAR and the Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Charged with examining underlying factors that gave rise to the situation in Ferguson, an interdisciplinary panel of Triangle scholars highlighted the persistence of race, racialization and racial discrimination in American structures and sensibilities. Referencing Gunnar Myrdal’s famous tome, panelist Ted Shaw (UNC Professor of Law and director of the Center for Civil Rights), proclaimed: “Race is the great American Dilemma.” Some also saw resonance with racial profiling and police engagement with racial and ethnic minorities in North Carolina. The event drew in a crowd of over 100 students, faculty and staff, who dialogued with the panel about possibilities for social change and lessons to be drawn from Ferguson.  Featured Panelists were Frank Baumgartner (UNC, Political Science), Mai Nguyen (UNC, City and Regional Planning), Donna Marie Winn (Frank Porter Graham Child Dev Inst), Blair Kelley (NCSU, Dept of History), and Ted Shaw (UNC, School of Law, Ctr for Civil Rights).

IAAR Faculty Fellows Announced

The Institute of African American Research is pleased to announce the two recipients of the first–ever IAAR Faculty Fellowship: Enrique Neblett and Alvaro Reyes. Both are UNC faculty members. They will be fellows with the IAAR for the academic year 2014-2015, during which time they will work on developing or completing their individual research projects.

Enrique Neblett, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, will be a tenured associate professor of psychology by Fall 2014. On faculty at UNC since 2008, his research includes attention to racism-related stress, well-being and health status among African American youth. While at the IAAR he will conduct a longitudinal pilot study investigating the psychological well-being during early adulthood in two cohorts of African American college freshmen. Neblett will also work on writing a research grant to support a study on racial identity and racial discrimination among emerging adults.

Alvaro Reyes has been an assistant professor since 2011 in the Department of Geography. He received his Ph.D. from Duke University. His research interests concern Political Geography, Black Geographies, Racialization and Socio-Territorial Movements in the Americas, Decolonization, and Critical Theory. As IAAR Faculty Fellow, he will work on completing his book manuscript, which relies on an analysis of 20th century Black and indigenous movements and thinkers to explore the causal relation between decolonization and what is understood today as “globalization.”

Both fellows will give a public talk about the projects that they are pursuing during their tenure at the IAAR. The dates for these talks will be announced in late summer 2014.

Behind The Whirlwind

Director’s note:

A colleague in anthropology recently directed me to a new graduate zine, The Whirlwind, on race and geography and I was instantly struck by its remarkable content and innovative format. I knew or knew of many of the publication’s contributors, most who have attended or expressed interest in IAAR events. And I have also been hearing much buzz about the critical mass of UNC graduate students from geography to sociology who have been meeting regularly and having vibrant conversations and presentations around race. Add to this my recent involvement in an effort to form a possible concentration on race in UNC’s Anthropology Department and, then, my excitement over The Whirlwind —as yet another marker of a mounting campus interest in interrogating race — becomes clearer.

And so, I invited The Whirlwind’s editor, Willie Wright, to author a guest blog post for us about how the publication came into being and what it’s all about. As you will see, Willie wants to make sure that credit for the publication is shared. His post, therefore, does represent his take on how the zine came together but it stresses that, in the final analysis and throughout his vision for the publication, it was a collective effort involving other students and inspired by his collaborators and faculty mentors. I think it’s an exciting development demonstrating the critical and forward thinking of emerging scholars on race. Enjoy Willie’s post and see for yourself. Read More »

“Let’s Talk About HIV”: Middle Class Black Women’s Self-Advocacy in Patient-Provider Communication

Allison Mathews, our guest blogger, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology and Humphreys Fellow with the Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her dissertation research focuses on the role that Black and gay identity play in Black gay men’s religious choice and participation. Her research interests include race and ethnicity, masculinity and sexuality, religion, and health disparities.

A recent article in The New Yorker entitled, “HIV’s Grip on the American South,” highlighted the devastating and long-term effects that high rates of HIV prevalence have on the American south, and specifically Black Americans. Despite recent findings in HIV/AIDS research that boast medical advances leading to a possible cure, the risk for contracting and dying from the disease is still a heavy burden for Black southerners to bear. In their recent presentation for the IAAR spring 2014 talk series, Kia Lilly Caldwell (Associate Professor, Dept of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill) and Niasha Fray (doctoral student, Dept of Health Behavior, UNC-Chapel Hill) take on a new and refreshing perspective to this public health issue by examining the experiences of middle class Black women, who are an often understudied population. They seek to understand how the experiences of middle class Black women living in the southeastern United States engage in conversations with their health care providers around risk and preventive methods for contracting HIV/AIDS. Caldwell and Fray find that participants’ perceptions of their need to self-advocate for HIV/AIDS and STD testing in patient-provider interactions served as a potential pathway to increase testing. However, patients’ self-advocacy was also a reaction to the providers’ hesitance in offering the test. Participants in the study had a perception that their healthcare providers assumed they were not at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS or other STDs because of their middle class status. Thus, they believed health care providers were not as willing to offer Black middle class women HIV/AIDS or STD tests. Importantly, all participants in the study had been tested at one point in their lives and most were likely to get tested while visiting a healthcare provider.

Read More »

Centralizing the Griot in Space and Time: The Practice of Spatial Literacy

Tanya Shields, our featured IAAR blogger, is an assistant professor in UNC’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.  Dr. Shields’s first book, Bodies and Bones: Feminist Rehearsal and Imagining Caribbean Belonging, is forthcoming with the University of Virginia Press and examines the ways in which rehearsing historical events and archetypal characters shapes belonging to the Caribbean region.  Dr. Shields has been working with several Caribbean artists in an effort to engage in “real time” conversations on change and rehearsal. She teaches classes on Caribbean women, the arts of activism, growing up as a girl globally, and the continuing influence of plantation economics and politics. 

Folashade Alao’s recent IAAR talk, “‘I Remember, I Believe:’ Griots, Migrants, and the Textures of Southern Space,” uses Lizz Wright’s version of Sweet Honey’s “I Remember, I Believe” as a structuring device to illuminate not only the griot tradition, but also the import of space in helping us “read a black diasporic past that we cannot see.” Read More »

African American English and Embracing Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom

Jen Griffin, our featured guest blogger for February, is a doctoral candidate in the Linguistics Department at UNC.

Her research interests include the documentation of dialect variation and evaluating models of variation. Her dissertation project seeks to document the various dialects of Sgaw Karen, which is an understudied language spoken by members of the Karen refugee community here in Chapel Hill.

In recent years, universities and other academic institutions nationwide have sought to promote diversity. In faculty training, course syllabi, and university policies, tolerance of diversity is emphasized in regards to race, gender, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation. However, as sociolinguist Walt Wolfram of North Carolina State University noted at the recent IAAR panel on African American English, one type of diversity that has largely been ignored is linguistic diversity. Little attention has been given to increasing tolerance for or understanding of the many distinct dialects of English that are spoken throughout the nation. Read More »

Mentorship and Professional Development for Researchers of African Americans and the African Diaspora

No one disputes that mentorship and network-building are the stuff of professional development for young scholars and students. Arguably, mentoring is especially important in interdisciplinary fields such as African American and African diaspora studies, an area of scholarship that some consider less legitimate than “traditional” disciplines (see Robin Kelley’s recent article on this) and that others discredit as yet another “studies” field. Creating structures and opportunities for students and emerging scholars, then, becomes critical for their ability to find and build community and support for their scholarly interests and production as well as gain and acquire access to vital knowledge and strategies for navigating the profession successfully and productively.  Read More »

Audio: Infant Feeding and African American Mothers

Listen to Profesor Margaret Bentley (UNC-CH, Gillings School of Global Public Health) January 23rd talk on “Infant Feeding, Care and Risk of Pediatric Obesity among African American Mothers in North Carolina.” She was joined by Dr. Heather Wasser (UNC-CH, Center for Women’s Health Research) and Dr. Amanda Thompson (UNC,-CH, Dept of Anthropology).

Click here to listen to the talk at SoundCloud →