The Notion of Image as a topic for a Conversations with Al McFarlane Public Policy Forum broadcast was derived from a conference last summer entitled Young Women’s Issues Forum. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter of the Links, Inc., in conjunction with SoulTouch Productions, convened the important conference to help Black girls navigate pathways to personal and collective success with their identity and soul intact. The Notion of Image as a topic for a Conversations with Al McFarlane Public Policy Forum broadcast was derived from a conference last summer entitled Young Women’s Issues Forum. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter of the Links, Inc., in conjunction with SoulTouch Productions, convened the important conference to help Black girls navigate pathways to personal and collective success with their identity and soul intact. This conference, held at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), . with support from the Medtronic Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation, featured workshops with topics such as: Who Am I Without Him: Dating Relationships, Imaging: Is It Everything? and Beautilicious: Inside/Out.
The Public Policy Forum re-visited this topic with three esteemed community elders: Robin Hickman of SoulTouch Productions; Rose McGee, author, storyteller and owner of Deep Roots Desserts; and Mother Atum Azzahir of Phillps Powderhorn Cultural Wellness Center. “Each has contributed mightily to the aesthetic, to the art, to the social, cultural, political, informational landscape of our community and of our people,” said host Al McFarlane.
In describing what we are and who we are to ourselves and to the rest of the world, Azzahir said for the sake of “our young men and young women, we have major work to do in recovering what is our image – both our personal image and our collective image, not just on a local level but on a global level.
“The Black man and Black woman is really the image of justice. We are the image of rightness and order. We are the image of soul and liberation. When people think of us in other parts of the world, they think of the recovery from suffering and the amazing resiliency that we have,” Azzahir said.
"Somewhere along the line I think that image has gotten lost. The people that it has gotten lost to the most, is us,” she said.
“So we have a lot of work to do to reestablish the image of ourselves in the world. Our image has to be one and has for a long time been one that other people look up to and emulate,” Azzahir said.
“As I watched the events unfolding surrounding the recent race/class struggles in France, repeatedly, I heard them refer to the African-American as the model person, the model personality, the model resister, who they were emulating both in how they dress and in how they resist. They see African Americans as the moral compass. We have to think about our image in the world. On a local or community level, we have to reestablish our image of moral rectitude. On a personal level, the idea of beauty and personal uprightness is connected to a natural way of being that really makes our children and younger generations feel inspired. In other words, how I carry myself on a day by day basis, how I dress, how I talk, how I do my work; all of that has to inspire our young people, to lift up to them this bigger image of moral rectitude in the world.”
Robin Hickman has produced a film entitled Lovin’ the Skin I’m In, based on Sharon Flake’s novel, The Skin I’m In. Flake was the keynote speaker at the Young Women’s Forum. Flake is an award-winning author of books for African-American teens. She writes about self-esteem, growth and development, and the significance of image, among other topics. Hickman addresses the same issues in her work. “Being a media maker since I was very young, I pray to God that He allows me this ministry of addressing young people and in particular our young women,” she said. “I’m finding this historic residue associated with hue and complexion and hair stuff is resurfacing because we have not been truth-tellers. As grown women we’re not dealing with it,” said Hickman.
Hickman said she is encouraged to be “working with the popular teenage book The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake, working with other producers to try to bring th