Being Comfortable In Who We Are - 10 Questions with Your Friendly Neighborhood Nerd, Robert "the Bobbo" Griffin
Imagine, if you will, that you're a child again. You spend your time enamored with comic books and action heroes; fictitious characters who routinely exhibit gallant behavior in page and on screen to serve as the defenders of good in the timeless battled against evil. Your love of these characters is woven into the fabric of your every day life, from the t-shirts you wear, the book bag you carry to school, the games you play on the playground, and even the themes of your birthday parties.
Now, let us pose a question. What effect do you think it has on a child's self esteem when they idolize these characters yet do not see their race or gender represented within the roster of protagonists? In 2011, the academic journal Communication Research published a study conducted by Kristen Harrison and Nicole Martins, two Indian University professors, titled Racial and Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Children’s Television Use and Self Esteem: a Longitudinal Panel Study. Harrison and Martins surveyed about 400 black and white students in Illinois, all 7-to 12-years-old and from lower-middle to upper-middle socioeconomic communities, over a yearlong period. The research focused on how much the kids watched TV and how that impacted their self esteem. What they concluded is that television exposure led to a decrease in self-esteem for white and black girls and black boys, and an increase in self esteem among white boys.
What contributes to this increase or decrease in self esteem? It's simple, representation. Children are affected when their race or gender are not represented or represented negatively in popular culture, whether it's television series, movies, comic books, or literature. Historically, young white boys have had greater access to positive media representation. This type of exposure helps young white boys believe that anything is possible, and that they can attain, achieve, and even be heroes. If popular culture reinforces gender and racial stereotypes, then exposure to media can impact how children of color, girls, gender nonconforming youth, or children with disabilities evaluate themselves or see their place in the world.
Robert Griffin, a man who has given himself the title Your Friendly Neighborhood Nerd, is an ardent advocate for diversity and inclusion within the arts and media, with a specific focus on nerd and geek culture. Griffin, who is also known to many as the Bobbo, is passionate about seeing more people of color (POC) and females working as illustrators, writers, and editors of comic books and animated series, as well as owning and operating comic book and hobby shops. He uses outlets such as his blog and podcasts, Geek Street Radio and Bobbo's Block, to spread his message.
Musician Sarah Sanders performs under the pseudonym Mama Blue. A Jacksonville native who grew up on the city's eastside, she has performed extensively at venues and events in Northeast Florida since 2011. Through these performances, she has blossomed to become a staple in the regions music scene. It's not just Jacksonville residents that notice Mama Blue's talent. She performs in cities throughout the United States, bringing Jacksonville's rich history of blues, jazz, and soul to audiences across the nation.
In October, Mama Blue performed her way to being named the winner of the 2017 First Coast Blues Society's Regional Blues Challenge. Subsequently, she was invited to perform at the 34th Annual International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, TN. This event brings together performers, industry representatives, and fans from all over the world to celebrate the blues. The IBC is a worldwide search for blues acts that are ready to heed the call and perform at an international level.
We are being bombarded through public platforms with rhetoric that is aimed at dividing and categorizing us based on our differences. It is being projected in both the United States and the world at large as imperious alienation and disparaging rants are somehow marketed and sold as nonconformist truth-telling. Such vile hyperbole is not only close minded, it's dangerous. It promotes xenophobia and strips the world of its humanity.
One of the issues that is repeatedly being discussed is immigration. Those who debate this topic oftentimes speak in statistics and exaggerated generalizations, overlooking the simple fact that immigrants are actual living, breathing human beings. When our fellow person leaves one area and migrates to another it is done in search of a better standard of life for themselves and their loved ones. Let us not forget the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, taken from Emma Lazarus' sonnet New Colossus, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."
Overstreet Ducasse, known to many as Street, migrated to the United States at the age of six. His father, a construction worker, was the first of his family to escape turbulence in Haiti, migrating to the U.S. in a refugee raft. His mother soon followed and the two settled in Miami before sending for their children. After arriving in America, a young Street attended a predominantly Hispanic and black inner-city public school where he was enrolled in an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program. As a student, Street wasn't necessarily fond of school, but as an adult he credits the teachers who contributed to his education and helped shape him as an artist, such as his junior high drafting teaching, Mrs. Alexander, who taught him grid work and how mathematics are used to create perspective.
Our first 10 Questions interview posted on August 8, 2016. This week we reach a milestone with the posting of our 75th interview. To celebrate this achievement, we stepped outside our normal format and invited two literary artists from our region, Tricia Booker and Darlyn Finch Kuhn, to interview one another. Below you will find the interview that Finch Kuhn conducted with Booker. In a separate post you can read the interview that Booker conducted with Finch Kuhn. Both Booker and Finch Kuhn are featured readers in this year's JaxbyJax Literary Arts Festival, scheduled for Saturday, November 11, 2017.
The first quality you notice in Tricia Booker is authenticity. Her photo should appear front and center on the Wikipedia listing for the phrase “what you see is what you get.” The second thing you notice is that she is a peaceful vortex of energy, a contradiction in keeping with her thoughtful, beatific smile as she explains that she is a part-time journalism professor at the University of North Florida (UNF), a boxing instructor, a wife to a “hot firefighter husband,” and a mom to two girls, one boy, and several dogs. Yet she swears she makes eating right, working out, and getting enough sleep a priority. Her healthy frame and glowing-sans-makeup complexion speak to the efficacy of her regimen.
And then you notice how smart she is. She has taught creative writing to both middle-schoolers and inmates, and has written for publications as diverse as Notre Dame and Southern Living magazines, Folio Weekly, Minnesota’s Law & Politics, and the Vero Beach Press-Journal. Her latest work is a full-length journey through infertility, in-vitro, and international adoption that evokes belly laughs, gasps of disbelief, and copious tears – often in the same chapter.
Our first 10 Questions interview posted on August 8, 2016. This week we reach a milestone with the posting of our 75th interview. To celebrate this achievement, we stepped outside our normal format and invited two literary artists from our region, Tricia Booker and Darlyn Finch Kuhn, to interview one another. Below you will find the interview that Booker conducted with Finch Kuhn. In a separate post you can read the interview that Finch Kuhn conducted with Booker. Both Booker and Finch Kuhn are featured readers in this year's JaxbyJax Literary Arts Festival, scheduled for Saturday, November 11, 2017.
Darlyn Finch Kuhn looks like she could walk off the page of a book about Southern hospitality. She has a gracious smile, an infectious laugh, and a way of putting herself together so that she’s always appropriately adorned to go to a funeral, a cocktail party, or breakfast at Cracker Barrel. The sweet demeanor hides a fierce ability to string words together in a way that doesn’t just tell a story - it makes the story sing.
Kuhn first started writing prior to age 5 - while her brother was at school, she wrote and illustrated little books - but she was a little bit older when she read the book Old Yeller, and realized she had found her calling. “The people in that book talked the way the people in my life talked,” she said. And she realized she could write about what she knew - growing up on the Northside of Jacksonville, fishing on the Trout River, and listening to her mama teach her about life.
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Please email Jihan@CulturalCouncil.org