Micro-Aggressions of Racism in Academia Roundtable

Convened April 27, 2014 During My MFA Thesis Exhibition

I organized this BAILA: Black Academics in Los Angeles roundtable discussion, entitled Micro-Aggressions of Racism in Academia, to address the climate of racism in academia across the board, including in art school, curatorial practices graduate school, medical school and law school.  The roundtable occurred on Sunday, April 27, 2014 as part of my MFA Thesis Exhibition in Public Practice for Otis College of Art & Design.  The event occurred at the Leimert Park Vision Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. I designed the roundtable in the same style and format in which I design and host BAILA: Black Artists in Los Angeles roundtables. Several members in the panel have attended BAILA roundtables.

Panelists Holly Tempo (visual artist-professor, Otis), Derrick Maddox (visual artist, MFA CalArts), Chelle Barbour (Curator, MA USC), Lili Bernard (visual artist-organizer), Dr. Carole Jordan-Harris (Ob-Gyn-Surgeon-Board of Directors Drew University Medical School), Dr. Roberto Vargas (Physician-Professor, UCLA Medical School), Ronald Robertson (law student UCLA) and Brittany Gibson, Esq (UCLA Law School Grad). Moderated by Zeal Harris (visual artist, MFA Otis). Guests included Dorit Cypis, Renee Petropoulos, John Tai, Karen Moss, Teka-Lark Flemming, Maria Gil, J Michael Walker, Alitash Kebede, Lena Cole Dennis, Katie Loughmiller, Alle, Jose Rodriguez, Lester Grant, Maria Gil, Raksha Parekh, Ruben Hornillo, Fernando Perez, and Carol Zou among dozens of others.


HOLLY TEMPO is a visual artist and an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Otis College of Art & Design. She received her MFA from Claremont Graduate University and her BA from Pitzer College.

Holly has exhibited in San Bernardino County Museum of Art, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Frumkin/Duval Gallery, Miller/Durazo, Andrew Shire, POST, Kohn Turner, Self-Help Graphics & Art, Huntington Beach Art Center, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Irvine Fine Arts Center, LACMA’s Leo S. Bing Center, and LACE; and internationally in France, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, Central America, Israel and India.

She is a recipient of grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation, Artist’s Fellowship Inc. and Change Inc. Holly has been reviewed and interviewed in the in LA Times, Coagula Art Journal, Artscene, Artweek, LA Weekly, Sculpture Magazine, Huffington Post, Art Slant, and Flavor Pill.

“I engage with dysfunctional spaces in society and use the language of abstraction to process my experience. This has been fueled in the last couple of years by my status as a resident of Inglewood, who traverses a variety of communities in my daily travels.”

DERRICK MADDOX “Do words have meaning or do people bring meaning to words? “ This is the very question Los Angeles based conceptual artist, Derrick Maddox asks the viewer in his varied creative expressions exploring the symbolic nature of language. Since his childhood, Mr. Maddox has always asked himself, “Why does miscommunication occur”. It seemed that miscommunication happened everywhere; between cultures; between sexes; between races; and even between individuals. It was only after his undergraduate studies at UCSD, that Mr. Maddox realized there was a “glitch in the matrix”, a space that existed between thought and language, a space which Mr. Maddox has termed “the void”.  Derrick Maddox’s diverse art practices are the physical representations of the unspeakable (I.e. the “void”). The “void” is the space where language as a construct is limited or partially breaks down in the communication of thoughts or ideas between sender and receiver.

Derrick Maddox received his B.A. in communication from UCSD, and his M.F.A. from Cal Arts. A poet, a musician, plus performing and visual artist, the emerging Derrick Maddox has left the art world in a virtual tailspin. Through his diverse, provocative, cutting edge, and critically acclaimed artworks, Mr. Maddox seeks to redefine the notion of art. Derrick envisions his work as a social tool, rather than a commodity; a tool to open up discussion, revolving around a plethora of social issues.  Mr. Maddox believes there are no “right or wrong” answers, but feels that ongoing conversations around these issues are the keys to recovery.

CHELLE BARBOUR holds a Bachelor of Arts in digital media and fine arts, and a Master of Arts in Art History and Curatorial Practices from University of Southern California.  The focus of Chelle’s graduate work was Cuban contemporary art, history and critical theory. The completion of her field research in Havana, Cuba, resulted in a published thesis The Performance of Memory and Ritual: Selected Works by Ana Mendieta and Tania Bruguera. Chelle is currently working on curatorial projects, which include Madame B, (Mieke Bal, cultural theorist) and The Stuart Hall Project (John Akomfrah).

CAROLE JORDAN-HARRIS, M.D., M.S., is an attending physician of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in private practice at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Jordan-Harris is also the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.  Her academic achievements include a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from Howard University.  She earned her medical degree from the University of California at Irvine where she was both Class President for two of the four years as well as the devoted single parent of three young daughters.

Dr. Jordan-Harris’ main clinical and research interests include adolescent gynecology, urogynecology, breast and cervical cancer education, menopause, domestic violence and international health. Her grant from the National Committee of Quality Assurance/CMA Foundation/The California Endowment studied Sexually Transmitted Diseases- Testing, Education, and Prevention in Diverse Populations of Women in Southern California. She also presented at the CA HPV Vaccine Summit in Sacramento. As a local and international guest lecturer, she lectures at rural and major hospitals in South and West Africa. She has lead numerous medical missions providing education as well as free medications and surgeries to very grateful patients. Dr. Jordan-Harris was instrumental in establishing a state-of-the-art teaching hospital in Nigeria.

Advisor to several African governments and numerous international, national, and local organizations. In Nigeria, her direct involvement with the Governor caused the establishment of a “state of the arts” Teaching Hospital at which she performs surgery.  The Igbo people of Imo State in Nigeria bestowed on Dr. Jordan-Harris a chieftaincy title, an honor never bestowed on an American woman.  She was made a tribal chief for her efforts to bring Western medical practices to Africa and her dedication to studying how traditional African medical practices can benefit Western medicine. She has lectured for several healthcare programs for rural and major hospitals in South Africa and West Africa. She maintains active leadership and membership in several boards and professional organizations and continues her service on the Cedars-Sinai Bioethics Committee since 2006. Dr Jordan-Harris has been honored for her work with battered women and is the recipient of Congressional recognition for her community services, numerous African humanitarian awards, and Distinguished Physician awards from organizations and universities.

Dr. Jordan-Harris feels her greatest personal achievement is raising her three daughters all of whom are successful professional women, married to successful, professional men, and each raising three amazing children.

ROBERTO VARGAS, M.D., M.P.H. is an Associate Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research (GIM-HSR) at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Associate Professor Medical Sciences Institute, Charles Drew University, and an Associate Natural Scientist at the RAND Corporation. Roberto is currently conducting community partnered research efforts to develop interventions to reduce disparities in kidney disease, cancer and social determinants of health this includes employing a novel approach to CBPR developed by South Los Angeles community members and researchers from Charles Drew University and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  This approach creates a four step framework for community-academic partnered research: 1) identifying a shared public health problem 2) convening stakeholder groups 3) exchange of knowledge through conferences and then 4) development of work groups from the conferences that expand the pool of community level participants who will contribute to developing action plans and interventions. Roberto has described the use of these methods for his recent work on chronic kidney disease in the manuscript in Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease. He also applies these methods to his recent work with UCLA colleague Dr. Arleen Brown and the Los Angeles Urban League on a California Endowment funded project examining the health conditions in a 70-block area of South Los Angeles. Roberto has led the part of this effort that applies the above mentioned CBPR four-step process to their work with residents of this area. He also conducts similar efforts for cancer disparities, serving as the academic co-leader of the NCI funded UCLA and Charles Drew University U54 Partnership for Cancer Research, Prevention and Control’s community core.

Roberto received his B.B in History & Sociology of Science from University of Pennsylvania, his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College, and did his residency at Yale Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program. He received his MPH from Harvard School of Public Health.

RONALD ROBERTSON  is a current UCLA Law Student with a background in finance and legal studies in business, pursuing a specialization in critical race studies. Growing up in southern Louisiana, Ronald has had significant experience with race and enjoys exploring the intersectional complexities inherent in any race/class/gender discussion. Ronald hopes that the awareness raised through the “33″ video will initiate a valuable dialogue that can shape attitudes and policies within the broader academic community.

“Robertson, a board member of the school’s chapter of the Black American Law Students Association, said the students have made several recommendations to the administration. They include more scholarships for minority students, developing diversity training and creating a position of dean of diversity.” — BET News

BRITANNY GIBSON is a California attorney and graduate of UCLA School of Law’s Class of 2012. Prior to law school, Brittany graduated magna cum laude from UCLA with a Bachelors degree in Communication Studies. Believing that equal access to education is of paramount significance, Brittany has been a mentor and tutor for dozens of students at Morningside High School, Inglewood High School and Dorsey High School. She has also served as a mentor through the UCLA Law Fellows Program and the UCLA Academic Advancement Program. Brittany believes wholeheartedly in devoting effort to addressing the needs and experiences of students of color at every level, including the post-graduate realm.

ZEAL HARRIS (moderator of BAILA roundtable) is a visual artist and received her MFA from Otis College of Art and Design.

“While enrolled at UCLA’s Graduate Film School, I took a painting class for non-majors and was delighted to find that after many years of searching and trying to become a writer, I had finally developed a voice that put depth behind my nominal artistic abilities. I found that my voice came to me as narrative art. I developed a preference for telling stories and revealing daily life moments through painting.

“I left film school before graduating, and for two years after, worked as an Art Consultant/Salesperson in two boutique galleries in Los Angeles. During that time, I worked on developing an art portfolio that gained my admission into the Graduate School at Otis College of Art & Design. Going to art school was extremely challenging socially and spiritually. Despite the difficulties, I received an MFA in Studio Art in 2007. As a further example of my art education, Row Dowell, Chair of the Grad Program at Otis, awarded me a scholarship to attend a Narrative Painting class taught by Melissa Miller at Anderson Ranch in the summer of 2007. While in was in the program, Roy also assisted me in taking my first art research trip – a trip to explore and investigate the state of New Orleans Post Katrina, a trip which was like a life rite for me. A trip that I am still processing and trying to figure out how I will make a series of art!”