Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Mandela Experience...

In 1990, my mother took me to see Nelson Mandela, South African activist and humanitarian, speak at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Sitting amongst a sea people from all ethnic backgrounds, I was entranced by this legendary leader. He had an uncanny ability to connect with each and every individual and create an environment that empowered everyone there to take action for his cause. I felt as if he was speaking only to me! He shared his personal and professional experiences as an active participant in the freedom struggle, graphically defined the term, Apartheid, and discussed his role in dismantling it. I was overwhelmed, humbled and deeply disheartened by the story of his reality, and the reality of South African people, my global brothers and sisters. He then announced he would begin fasting until there was equal voting rights declared by the South African government and requested the public join him in taking action toward the same goal. In the car ride home, I told my mother I would fast, by removing beef and pork from my diet, until South African citizens were able to vote. I maintained this commitment until 1994, when equal voting rights in South Africa was declared. It was not until I became a doctoral student that I was able to label that experience.

My mother, a Black female educator, inserted me into African centered (Murrell, 2002), non-traditional (informal) educational space, and what Mezirow (1997) and Bailey and Alfred (2006) would describe as, a culturally rooted, transformative learning environment. Through autonomous thinking, transformative learning is the process of effecting change within an established social structure (Mezirow, 1997) and is organic in nature amongst Black women educators cognizant of their role and impact on cultural empowerment (Bailey & Alfred, 2006). At the age of 16, the Mandela experience challenged me to think critically about the world and directed my understanding of racism as a social structure. Utilizing the cultural medium of oration, I was influenced and educated about the implications of European colonialism and it fostered the ability to identify my individual role in countering and transforming racism and power, for the betterment of the global African Diaspora. It was within many of these non-traditional, transformative educational environments, that I began modeling transformative thought and action. I haven’t stopped since 1990.

In 2008, I developed an organization, Message Media Ed.: a culture-specific, media literacy-based, professional development organization, dedicated to academic, social and economic advancement for youth and families of African descent. The vision of Message Media Ed is to develop critically conscious (Friere, 1970; Friere, 1974) and culturally courageous (Browne, 2008) leaders equipped with the skill-sets needed to diversify the 21st Century workforce. Offered through Message Media Ed, The Digital Elder Project is a program I designed and offer as a humble attempt to replicate my Mandela experience, to transform existing, regressive frames of references within in the Black community, from 20th Century thought to 21st Century action. In a country where Eurocentric, corporate American media has replaced the traditional role of the African Elder – as teacher, mediator, leader, value shaper – for Black community members, The Digital Elder Project reconnects participants to African culture and heritage, and empowers them to use human and technological resources to counter and thrive in a hegemonic culture. The Digital Elder Project combines Critical Pedagogy, specifically Critical Media Literacy, with African Centered Pedagogy, within a non-traditional, transformative learning environment, as tools to achieve its mission.

emPOWER On-Line & in the African American Community!

"This workshop empowers people to become more than themselves and take responsibility for each other.” – Digital Elder graduate

"Communication is so necessary!! Elders of all ages need this workshop for this reason. We must save our youth!! Nationwide!!” – Digital Elder graduate

Thank you for your time.

In service,

Shani Byard-Ngunjiri
Founder, Message Media Ed & The Digital Elder Project

Copyright 2010 Message Media Ed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year & Mark Your Calendars!


Greetings Members & Digital Elder Graduates!

On this final day of Kwanzaa, Imani (meaning Faith), and as we kick off the New Year of 2010, we extend a heartfelt thank you for all of your support, wisdom and participation in expanding the impact of The Digital Elder Project! We look forward to more growth, on all levels, in 2010!

Also, mark your calendars for another opportunity to join our growing group of Digital Elder graduates! That's right... in March 2010, we are offering The Digital Elder Project - leadership and professional development workshop! If you consider yourself a current or potential leader, of African descent, and/or play a critical role in influencing the lives of Black youth, and you are between the ages of 14-100, you don't want to miss this!

The DIGITAL ELDER Project - MARCH 2010!
Sat. 3/20, 9am-6pm AND Sun. 3/21, 1pm-7pm
@ the Los Angeles Urban League West Adams/Baldwin Hills Worksource Center
5681 W. Jefferson Blvd. LA, Ca. 90016 (at La Cienega)
$60 Investment (includes all food & materials)

Check out the flyer here!

OR here! (Events section)


***SPECIAL OFFER FOR RETURNING DIGITAL ELDER GRADUATES!*** Bring a friend for a $100 total investment! Bring two friends for $140 total investment! And so on... :)

"Communication is so necessary!! Elders of all ages need this workshop for this reason. We must save our youth!! Nationwide!!" - Digital Elder graduate

"The Digital Elder Project has the potential of a groundswell movement for reclaiming or youths' potential by connecting with them to motivate and inspire." - Digital Elder graduate

Email us for a registration packet at - Don't delay! Spread the word and hope to see you soon!

In service,
Shani Byard-Ngunjiri Founder Message Media Ed & The Digital Elder Project

"The value of intergenerational understanding in the Digital Age for individuals of African descent is priceless and essential to cultivating the collaborative capacity needed to evolve as an African American community" - Shani Byard-Ngunjiri (2009)