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Thursday, April 19, 2018

What's BMAP?

Photo by Mikal Amin Lee
By Christian Barclay

BAM Education connects learning with creativity, engaging imagination by encouraging self-expression through in- and after-school programs for students and teachers; workshops; and offerings for audiences of all ages. In a continuing effort to develop arts-based, justice-oriented programs that promote engagement and empowerment for young people, BAM Education created the Black Male Achievement Program (BMAP) in 2013. The program, largely funded by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, was inspired by classroom discussions on media literacy, black male identity, and cultural representation.

BMAP functions as a co-teaching model, with two teaching artists working collaboratively in a classroom. During these twice-weekly sessions, the students develop writing, performance, and critical media literacy skills by mining popular cultural texts. In their studies of cultural representations––and misrepresentations––they begin to develop their own view on black masculinity. “This communication is the primary vehicle for critical investigations of the world we live in,” says Marcus Small, a current BMAP teaching artist. “It’s rare that males of color are able to engage in this dialogue absent of tension, danger, and unhealthy consequences.”

Another central text is The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life, by author and activist Kevin Powell. The collection of essays tackles issues related to political, practical, cultural, and spiritual matters within the African-American community, offering a man-to-man perspective on adversity and triumph.

In addition to writing, performance, and media literacy skills, BMAP aims to foster a sense of brotherhood through ensemble building. “It allows for them to experience options for how they intend to engage,” says Small, noting the variety of ways students participate in artistic skill-building throughout the program––from film criticism to technical production. Schools that have participated include Eagle Academy in Brownsville, Westinghouse High School in downtown Brooklyn, and the Cultural Academy in East Flatbush.

Using BMAP as a model, BAM Education will launch the Young Women’s Initiative later this year. The program will explore feminism, gender identity, and patriarchy, using multidisciplinary art forms to teach and empower. With a focus on literary arts, visual art, and media, the Initiative will encourage student-generated performance work.

Christian Barclay is a publicist at BAM.

© 2018 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

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