UB Conference Focusing on the Experiences of Today's African-American Male to be Held April 12-14

Award-winning author Michael Eric Dyson to present keynote address

Release Date: April 9, 2002 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Law School's Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy will sponsor a conference examining the African-American male experience from the perspective of popular culture, crime and punishment, religion, work, sexuality and parenting.

Titled "Exploring, Constructing and Sustaining Progressive Black Masculinities," the conference will be held April 12-14 in 280 Park Hall on the UB North (Amherst) Campus. Buffalo State College is co-sponsor of the event.

A keynote address by best-selling author Michael Eric Dyson, Ida B. Well-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University, will be held at 8 p.m. April 12 in the auditorium of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave. Admission will be free, but seating will be limited.

Dyson has been hailed for both his intellectual acuity and rhetorical gifts. He is the author of "Reflecting Black: African-American Culture Criticism," winner of the Gustavus Myers Center for Human Rights Award, and "Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X," named the Notable Book of 1994 by both The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. His most recent book, "Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac," looks at the life of the slain rapper Tupac Shakur, his career and his impact on hip hop and the African-American community.

The conference will explore how masculinities are constructed and manifested in key social locations and look at practices that victimize black men, as well as those practices by black men that are detrimental to themselves and others.

Athena D. Mutua, UB associate professor of law, organized the conference in collaboration with Stephanie Phillips, UB professor of law, and Timothy Brown, assistant professor of communication; Scott Johnson, assistant professor of criminal justice, and Ronald Stewart, associate professor of sociology, all of Buffalo State College.

Conference participants will include scholars from disciplines including African-American studies, women's studies, law, sociology and criminal justice, as well as artists, activists and clergy.

They include two leading black feminist scholars, Patricia Hill Collins, professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies and director of the Women's Research and Resource Center at Spelman College; Haki Madhubuti, a leading Afrocentric scholar and professor of English at Chicago State University, and Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology at Stony Brook University, who is considered the father of masculinities studies.

Participants also will include John Calmore, professor of law at the University of North Carolina Law School; Darren Hutchinson, assistant professor of law at Southern Methodist University; Makau Mutua, UB professor of law; Floyd Weatherspoon, professor of law at Capital University Law School; Gay Byron, assistant professor of New Testament and Black Church studies at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School; Whitney Harris, director of the Office of Diversity at Eastern Michigan University and a Catholic priest; Mark Anthony Neal, associate professor of English at the University at Albany, and Thomas Glave, assistant professor of English at Binghamton University.

"The conference will explore progressive notions and practices of black men that have the potential to subvert the social structures that oppress black men because they are both black and men, and to highlight the practices and notions of various black masculinities that are life enhancing and sustaining while devoid of subordinating proclivities," said Mutua.

"Our stance is one of antisubordination. That is, we are anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-classism, anti-homophobic. In short, we are anti-hate and believe that one group of people in the black community is not more important than another. Men are not more important than women, straight people are not more important than gay people. Rich people are not better than poor. Rather, there is a place and a need for all of the different elements in our community to participate in a progressive movement of social justice that is geared toward the full human development of all of us. In this moment we are exploring masculinities, but there have been and will be other moments when we look at other groups in the community."

Roundtable discussion topics at the conference will include:

o Mapping the Contours of Progressive Black Masculinities

o Black Masculinities and Religion: Rearticulating Doctrine and Understanding Possibilities.

o Construction and Consumption: Black Men in Popular Culture

o Black Men at Work: Social and Economic Realities and Transformative Possibilities

o Dissociating Black Masculinities from Crime and Punishment: Reasonable Suspicion

o Black Men and Sexuality: The Politics of Desire

o From Boys to Men: Nurturing Progressive Black Masculinities

For more information on the conference, contact Mutua at 645-2873 or by email at admutua@buffalo.edu. Additional information also is available at http://www.law.buffalo.edu/baldycenter/currentblk02.html.

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