Multiple Departments with One Vision

Journalism students from the bilingual publication El Nuevo Sol reported and produced a podcast season of Radio Nepantla, titled: “Afro-Latinx Stories/Historias Afrolatinas.” Under the leadership of graduate student, Eder Díaz, and student editors, Luis Mirón and Kimberly García, the team produced 18 podcast episodes with profiles of young people, including some CSUN students and alumni, who self-identify as Afro-Latinx, Black-Latinx, Blaxican, MexiAfricana, or Afrodescendiente. Journalism students also researched and identified useful digital resources for use on this website. Also, El Nuevo Sol’s incoming editor, Eduardo García, helped identify and create resources for this website.

Theatre students, under the direction of two faculty members and two alumni, developed, produced, and staged SYZYGY: The BLK Light Mixtape, a CSUN digital theatre production that premiered on April 29, 2021. This new theater work, inspired initially by Richard Cross’s photos of the Afro-Colombian community of Palenque de San Basilio and its mythical founder, Benkos Biohó, addressed institutionalized racism and police brutality in a contemporary setting. Alumni Anthony Valadez and Sean Hill, who co-wrote the play and whose Afro-Colombian roots resonate with those of San Basilio de Palenque, embodies Biohó as a cosmic DJ unbounded by time or space. As Biohó, Hill transitions between students’ stories via turntable-scratched segues by master music mixer Anthony Valadez. The individual stories act as narrative threads weaving and aligning to form a tapestry of traumas and challenges faced by people of color.

Journalism student Matthew Yahata produced a video where the cast and crew of the play share what it’s like to develop a devised theater production while in a virtual environment. This behind-the-scenes look showcases some of the challenges faced by students. In addition, Marta Valier and Guillermo Márquez from the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center helped curate photographs by Richard Cross of Palenque de San Basilio that were used for the play, mixed in the music video of the Afro-Colombian group Kombilesa Mi, who generously agreed to this transformation of their video to combine the past and present of San Basilio.

Two experts in the study of Black-Latinx, Dr. Rebecca Romo and Ph.D. student Edlin Veras, helped students understand major issues, and their presentations were recorded to help give a wider context to the stories told in the student projects. In addition, the presentation of the documentary Jamaica y Tamarindo by Blaxican filmmaker Ebony Bailey, and the panel discussion that accompanied her film, helped illuminate the significant presence of Afro-Mexican communities both in the Mexican region known as Costa Chica and also in Southern California.