Tag: Dartmouth College

College Student Kaya Thomas Creates “We Read Too” Mobile Directory of 600 Books that Prioritize Diversity 

We Read Too app creator Kaya Thomas (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Katherine Brooks via huffingtonpost.com

As a kid, Kaya Thomas enjoyed reading. “No matter how old I was, what I was going through, how I felt in any moment, a book was always a means of escape” she wrote in a blog post in 2015. “A way to dive into a new world and become a new character.”As a self-professed “nerdy black girl in high school,” Thomas’ love of books, and the escapism they afforded, only grew. She’d read three or four a week, seeking solace in their pages when she “felt very different than most of my peers.”

Something changed in those high school years, though. As a mature reader, she began to pay more attention to how the characters in her favorite books were described ― namely, how they were meant to look. “When I was a teenager I began to realize that a lot of the books I read didn’t have characters that looked like me,” she’s since admitted. “Realizing that made me feel invisible.”

So as a student at Dartmouth College, Thomas decided to do something about her sense of invisibility. Not only did she search the internet, compiling her own list of books written by authors of color that put characters of color in primary storylines, she learned to code so that she could share her database with other young readers. After taking part in a Black Girls Code hackathon, and learning the ins and outs of iOs during an internship, Thomas devised an iPhone app that functioned as a directory of 300 books showcasing characters of color.

“Young people should be able to see themselves represented in literature, so they know that their stories are important and that there are authors who […] celebrate their background and show the real lives of people like them,” Thomas wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. She cited books like Nalo Hopkinson’s The Chaos and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus as influential titles in her own life.

“When young people don’t see themselves represented positively in books, TV, movies and other forms of media, that erasure really harms self-image and how you perceive yourself as you grow up,” she added. Thomas’ app ― We Read Too ― launched in 2014 and has since grown to include over 600 relevant books. It’s also amassed over 15,000 iPhone users, who’ve downloaded the free app and suggested 1,600 other titles be added to the database.

And Thomas wants to meet their demands.Her skills as an iOS developer have grown throughout the course of her various internships and engagement with online development communities. She recently launched an Indiegogo campaign with the hopes of updating her app, quickly surpassing her goal of raising $10,000. Now with a stretch goal of $25,000, she has a few more objectives in mind: hire someone to review the books users suggest and grow the database to include 1,000 titles, create an Android version of We Read Too and initiate a UI redesign, and create a website version of her directory.

To read more, go to: College Student Creates A Mobile Directory Of 600 Books That Prioritize Diversity | The Huffington Post

Dartmouth College to Launch 10 Week #BlackLivesMatter Course

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 5.46.17 PM
 grew from a hashtag to a movement and is now a college course at Dartmouth College.

This spring, the Ivy League college will offer a new class, “10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter,” which will examine race, violence and inequality through current events and throughout history.

The 2014 deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York during confrontations with police sparked conversations on social media and protests around the world, including Dartmouth’s Hanover, New Hampshire, campus.

“Even though we might be sort of cloistered away in the ivory tower or something, we felt very much moved by, incited by, inspired by a lot of the activists’ work following the failure to indict Darren Wilson after the events in Ferguson,” said Aimee Bahng, an assistant professor of English at Dartmouth. “We wanted to not leave this behind after winter break.”

Then, around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Missouri Rev. Starsky Wilson, co-chairman of the Ferguson Commission, spoke with Dartmouth faculty about “teaching Ferguson.” By the end of Wilson’s two-hour workshop, faculty members were already brainstorming how to integrate the events and the response into coursework and campus life.

The result was a teaching collective that draws faculty from geography, history, English, math and other areas, and the idea for an interdisciplinary course crafted and taught by all of them. The course is also expected to draw outside speakers and to explore ways to engage the community beyond parading professors in front of lecture halls.

“There is a special energy around this,” said Abigail Neely, an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth. “It’s designed to transgress the boundaries between disciplines in an effort to do some really deep, sustained critical thinking about some of the most important issues in the country and world at this moment.”

The course came together quickly with support from college leaders and Dartmouth’s African and African-American Studies Program, Neely and Bahng said. Enrollment opened on Friday, but faculty members are still finalizing the syllabus and deciding how many students will be admitted.

An early lesson is expected to focus on St. Louis and its racial history. Another will consider poetry, prose, music and religious sermons. Still others will look at how events in Ferguson were documented through different media and how black activism has evolved, “from hip-hop to hashtags.”

As word spread about the course, there’s been an outpouring of support on campus, Bahng and Neely said. Far more than 10 faculty have signed on — as of Wednesday, 21 are “thinking together, teaching together, working together” — and students have approached to ask whether they can sit in on the course, even if they aren’t enrolled.

In planning the course, “we’ve already begun the work as a teaching collective,” Neely said. “I’m so excited to see what happens when the students join.”

article by Jamie Gumbrecht via cnn.com

“Scandal” Creator Shonda Rhimes To Deliver 2014 Commencement Address at Dartmouth College

Rhimes will address the Class of 2014 at commencement along with President Hanlon and the valedictory speaker.
“Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes

According to the Dartmouth Review, ABC’s powerhouse Shonda Rhimes will deliver the main commencement address to students graduating in 2014. Rhimes, who graduated from Dartmouth in 1991, is best known for creating the television series Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal.  Besides claiming a Golden Globe for “Outstanding Television Drama” on Grey’s Anatomy in 2007, Rhimes has also been awarded multiple NAACP Image Awards and is a three-time Emmy Award nominee.

While attending Dartmouth, Rhimes dedicated her time to theater and writing fiction. In addition to directing Dartmouth’s Black Underground Theatre and Arts Association, Rhimes majored in English literature with creative writing.

article by Julie A. McConville (additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson)

Young Filmmaker Samantha Knowles asks ‘Why Do You Have Black Dolls?’ in her Debut Documentary

Samantha Knowles, 22, surrounded by the subject of her new 25-minute movie.

Sometimes, a doll is not just a doll. It’s a reminder of a child’s beauty and potential.  No one understands that better than 22-year-old director Samantha Knowles, whose experience growing up as an African-American in a predominantly white community was the inspiration for her new documentary, “Why Do You Have Black Dolls?”

The 25-minute debut film about the significance of black dolls has been accepted at five film festivals and a trailer for “Why Do You Have Black Dolls” can be seen on Youtube.com.

“When I was 8, a white friend came over and innocently asked, ‘Why do you have black dolls?” remembers Knowles, who was raised in Warwick, N.Y., and now lives in Prospect Heights. “At the time, I obviously couldn’t really answer the question.”  Fourteen years later, she can.  Knowles, who initially made the film as her honors thesis at Dartmouth College, spent $6,000 and interviewed more than 20 dollmakers and historians, mostly in New York and Philadelphia.

Continue reading “Young Filmmaker Samantha Knowles asks ‘Why Do You Have Black Dolls?’ in her Debut Documentary”