Acting Director's statement

Upon assuming the position of Acting Director of the Center for Black Studies Research in September of 2009, I expected to slowly learn the specific tasks while introducing several new initiatives. The earthquake which struck Haiti in January of 2010 had a monumental impact upon the nation, Professor Michel, numerous colleagues, and our many Haiti related projects. Much of 2010 has been dedicated to maintaining and expanding our Haiti initiatives while simultaneously launching two new research collaboratives. Due to overwhelming support from the staff, the Center’s Advisory Committee, and from various units, faculty, and students, we were able to rise to the challenge and have an extremely productive year.

The Center’s general research platform attempts to provide a foundation for significant interventions into global debates within, and about, African Diaspora communities. Consequently, scholars associated with the Center are making major contributions to the humanities, the social sciences, and to public policy debates. They have found that our efforts to merge theoretical and social justice concerns have provided unique opportunities for conducting innovative multidisplinary research. Over the course of the recent academic year, the Center’s three primary research categories have undergone significant changes. The focus on Haiti has broadened and deepened. Second, the Race and Technology initiative have been reorganized in order to place a greater emphasis upon the emerging, yet related, fields of environmental justice and green economics. The Center’s effort in this area offers the potential of numerous curricular, programmatic, and policy innovations. Finally, the Urban Studies initiative gained a more defined profile and mission with the launching of several projects related to the field of Black California studies.

Haiti projects continue to be a prominent focus of research and publication. The Center supported the formation of the UCSB Haiti Relief Committee and the University of California Haiti Initiative (UCHI) after the January earthquake. The Acting Director, Prof. Michel, and UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow Nadège Clitandre participated in numerous forums, meetings, conferences, and assessment trips at UCSB, nationally, and in Haiti during the six months following the earthquake. Drs. Michel and Clitandre were able to work directly with organizations in Haiti such as our partner, the  Port-au-Prince community library Bibliothèque du Soleil,  and  over forty organizations associated with the Santa Barbara-based  foundation Direct Relief International. This year also marked the publication of the twentieth anniversary issue of the Journal of Haitian Studies. The Center also sponsored several cultural presentations and lectures for Haiti Flag Week. Finally, after several months of preparation the Center launched a course, a Black Studies seminar, on the reconstruction of Haiti in the fall of 2010. Although the disaster in Haiti has placed a great strain upon the Center’s staff and resources, we look forward to initiating several projects and securing several grants in the coming year.   

During the past year, the Race and Technology initiative was significantly reorganized. The 2009 Shirley Kennedy Lecture by Professor Robert Bullard significantly revitalized the existing interest in environmental justice issues on campus. Over the course of the next six months the Acting Director worked with a graduate student at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management on developing a new collaborative. In January of 2010, the Center, the Bren School, and the Department of Black Studies formed the UCSB Multi-Unit Collaborative on Environmental justice and the Emerging Green Economy. In June the Collaborative held its first conference, “Environmental Justice, the Green Economy and the Transformation of the University Curriculum.” Finally, in September, the Collaborative received a planning grant from UCSB’s Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Studies. The Collaborative is currently composed of twenty faculty, students, and community members.

Our Urban Studies initiative, which includes a comparative ethnic studies dialogue, has made significant progress this year. The first issue of the Center’s new journal, Kalfou, was published and negotiations with the University of Minnesota Press to publish the series were successfully concluded by the editor, Professor George Lipsitz. The Center sponsored forums and cultural events in support of the Black California Studies Initiative led by Professor Woods, Lipsitz, and Gaye Johnson. Also, the Shirley Kennedy Memorial Lecture, “From Watts to Dakar,” was given by poetry legend and Los Angeles scholar Jayne Cortez. The Black California Studies Initiative received a $5,000 grant from the UCSB Center for New Racial Studies. This grant will fund the Black California Dreamin’: Social Vision and the Crisis of California’s African Americans book and conference project. On the project’s editorial board are twenty prominent academics, artists, and community leaders. The widespread enthusiasm for this project exhibited throughout the state and nation has led to discussions on the creation of a Center published online journal.

The Center’s Associate Director, Professor Julie Carlson, continues to head a significant outreach activity, Project Excel, aimed at improving the academic achievement of participating African-American and American Indian students, and increasing college readiness and awareness for the students as well as their families. Over the past year, Excel earned support from the Office of the President (University-Community Engagement Grant), the Office of Academic Preparation (Faculty Outreach Grant), and from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor. Excel was also awarded a federal Community Development Block Grant administered by the City of Santa Barbara. This project has the full endorsement of this campus and the UC system, as well as that of various community constituencies. Excel is in its fourth year and has gained momentum and respect on campus and in the Santa Barbara community. Much of the year was spent examining ways in which to dramatically improve Excel through several reforms including linking it with the Office of Academic Programs. 

A new faculty and student and seminar series was launched during the academic year. We hope to expand this series in the coming years and to use it as a mechanism for building Center-based research collaborations that can eventually apply for grants. Another initiative involved the purchase of a video camera. In addition to being used to document the Center’s activities, we hope to use the camera to produce documentaries on critical issues and to produce broadcast quality lectures, forums, and interviews for distribution on the center’s webpage and on other media platforms. This will enable the Center to significantly expand its outreach to multiple publics. Finally, the Acting Director wishes to thank Mahseed Ayoub, Chryss Yost, Amy Ramos, and other staff members who have maintained a high level of excellence despite significant reductions in resources and salaries. Also,  Associate Director Julie Carlson deserves a debt of gratitude for attempting to keep Project Excel moving forward. Finally, I’d like to thank Professor Michel for remaining actively involved in both mentoring me and in keeping the Center on the right track despite being on sabbatical.

Annual Report 2010

Mission Statement

Director's Statement

Advisory Committee
& Staff

Organization Chart

Other Projects and Activities

Awards Administered

Space

Publications

Statistical Summary

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