Black Futures Scholars

Black Futures Scholars are undergraduate researchers who propose, create, and design content in response to the Black Futures event series. With the support of the Baruch Black Studies Colloquium faculty, these student scholars detail connections between their respective classes and Black Life Futures events, offering insight from the humanities and social sciences to develop an interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge. Black Futures scholars engage through a variety of artistic and intellectual approaches including but not limited to moderating academic discussions, scripting, producing and hosting podcasts, vlogging, blogging, and more. Scholars receive cash awards for their contributions and their work will be published on the Black Futures open-access site.

In Fall 2022, participating Black Futures Scholars responded to presentations and work by guest scholars and activists in the Black Futures Symposium: Black Ecologies on October 13 and October 14, 2022 via Zoom. Following the symposium, there were workshops for students on creating blogs, podcasts, and vlogs (video blogs).

See content created by previous Black Futures Scholars below:

Hook, Line, & Sinker: The Food is poisoned, the overlap between environmental racism and sCD

By Aissata Sow & Maya Samuel

In their podcast Black Futures Scholars, Aissata Sow and Maya Samuel evaluate Black Futures and Ecologies in connection with their research on Race, Inequality, and Publish Policy (PAF 3010). They discuss climate change and environmental racism, the impact on people who suffer from sickle cell disease, and the intersection with factory farming.

Breaking Down Harmful Structures Through Ecological Relationships

By Alexandra Acevedo

The foundations of Brazilian society are racist, anti-LGBTQ, patriarchal, and capitalistic. The same could be said about all the Americas and the United States. The colonizer European powers built these societal structures in Latin America. As a result, many indigenous and enslaved people (and their descendants) lost their relationship with the land and their ancestral communities. They partially lost the knowledge they held and their culture. Now, these belief systems of racism and so on are embedded in the way we view the world. However, we can repair these relationships through reconnection between people and the land. Through both the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil and Khalil Haywood’s essay “Paraíso Negro” we can see how reconnection to the land is crucial for the Afro-Latinx diaspora. We must unlearn these harmful belief systems and gain new knowledge to deconstruct these systems through reconnection to nature; in doing so, we can become closer to ourselves, our culture, and our families and communities.

Learning from the MST

By Riki Lorenzo Valdez

Brazil is one of the most racially diverse nations in Latin America and perhaps the world. Yet, there are a lot of racial inequalities and other forms of injustice in the country. As a result, groups such as Brazil’s Landless Workers Movements (MST) have started to fight those inequalities. Cristina Stumers, an activist and researcher, discussed in the “Black Futures, Black Ecologies” symposium what the movement is about, intergenerational struggles, ecological projects they have developed, and their Black Feminist social justice vision. I also learned how their ideas and actions could inspire and empower Afro-Latinxs in the US.

Mass Incarceration and Rikers Island

By Marc Cruz

In this paper for Race, Inequality, and Public Policy (PAF 3010), Black Futures Scholar, Marc Cruz, analyzes the history, current realities, and potential solutions to mass incarceration by analyzing key cases, including Weldon Angelos, Kalief Browder, and Erik Tavira.

Black Futures and Environmental Racism

By Peter Balluffi- Fry

In spring semester 2023, Black Futures Scholar Peter Balluffi-Fry developed a research paper for PAF 3010 in response to Dr. Nisrin Elamin’s talk on land dispossession and corporate investment in Sudan. His paper, Environmental Racism: The Centuries-Long Exploitation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, examines policies to address climate justice on a global scale.

Who is the MST? How They Manifest Black Futures

By Yuddy Fermin

On October 13, 2022, Cristina Sturmer, an activist, and researcher with Brazil’s Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), Landless Rural Workers Movement participated in Baruch College’s Black Studies Colloquium symposium “Black Futures: Black Ecologies.” The following post is a reflection of what I learned from her talk, from my research on the MST, and how I connected it to our class Afro-Latinidades taught by Dr. Rojo Robles.

Fireside Chat: Black Futures, Race, Inequality, & Public Policy

By Jacquelyn Ortiz & Maya McFarlane

This video involves a discussion or “fireside chat” between two Black Futures Scholars, Jacquelyn Ortiz and Maya McFarlane. In this presentation, they discuss their research, lessons they learned in Prof. Beeman’s Race, Inequality, and Public Policy course, their career goals, and how their work relates to Black Futures.

Mass Incarceration & the Attack on Black Communities

By Maya McFarlane

Maya McFarlane investigates enslavement, forced labor, and Black Futures in this final paper for Race, Inequality, and Public Policy. This paper examines the similarities and connections between the U.S. slavery system and the incarceration system and the role public racial discourse, policy, and politics play in challenging or justifying inequities. This paper draws on the works of Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” Barbara Ransby’s “Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century,” the Schomburg Center, and The Prison Policy Initiative to trace the history of inequity, potential modern-day solutions, and imagine more equitable futures.

Black Futures Project: Education & Advocacy – Toward Equity

By Jacquelyn Ortiz

Jacquelyn Ortiz links education as a fundamental right and key to unlocking full human potential to Black futures in this final paper for Race, Inequality, and Public Policy with Professor Angie Beeman. This paper addresses the history and continuing legacy of racial inequity in education and how to better engage in efforts to create change through social justice advocacy. The paper takes a critical look at the role color-blind and post-racial ideologies play in maintaining structural inequities. Using works by Lindsay Perez Huber, Susana Muñoz, Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Curtis Ivery, Joshua Bassett, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Paolo Freire, this paper explores the disconnect between ideologies of equality and implementation of equity-based policies and practices.

Podcast: Black Futures Student Scholars Reflections and on “Such is Aunt Nancy” Gender, Scavenging, & Racial Capitalism on the Harlem Renaissance Stage

By Erica Richardson

Cultural Displacement and It’s Relationship with Agrarian Reform: the MST and “Paraíso Negro”

By Isabella Bonilla

The relationship between land and culture is one that has been studied and reviewed but time and time again merits critical attention. With our area of study being the Afro-Latinx experience and its history, it is necessary to understand that the Western foundations that exploit, abuse, and displace Black and Indigenous people are still present today and demand collective action to combat. The issue that will be discussed in this analysis is that of the fundamental right of land ownership, and how access to this has positive effects on Black/Indigenous/Latinx communities. In order to analyze this connection I will examine the MST organization and its practices, as well as the personal essay “Paraíso Negro” by Kahlil Haywood.

Black Garden, Black Resilience

By Tasmine Lester

On my very first afternoon staying with her, my Tía gave me a grand tour of her garden. She showed me every single plant from the full-grown trees and mature plants that have been there bearing fruit or flowers for at least a decade, to the new baby plants that were so small I was impressed she could even identify them. Even though the garden wasn’t the largest, every single inch of soil was used meticulously and nurtured. She even showed me pictures of old trees and plants that didn’t survive, some of which were being succeeded by the baby plants. She told me of her plans for the garden’s future, new plants and trees she wants to try growing next when the time comes, and how she hopes for it to be prosperous and generational, just like her father’s garden. When I told her how impressive it was that gave her plants so much attention to detail, she told me that it was a product of Black Resilience. I wasn’t completely sure what that meant.

Philodendron: La Planta Del Amor

By Sandy Paulino

This is a concept I am seemingly called upon to ponder continuously. It feels something like a beckoning – a beckoning by the creator of the Universe for me to grapple with the significance of our intangible “roots”. Roots that ground us (no pun intended). That turns our environment into fuel. That marks the beginning of our journey and measures the lengths we’ve grown by the end of each odyssey. I shuffle through such thoughts as I disembark at my destination to visit family living in our home country. An adventure that seems almost counter-intuitive aside from the continuation of family ties and visiting old friends. ¡Pero claro, bro! As my family would say about stating something that is assumed to be the general consensus or a concept within which words are incapable of fully expressing. In other words, the obvious. What other purpose would such a treacherous endeavor serve? You could answer this by questioning, “ Who in this world is more important to us than family and close friends?