Since we published the first issue less than a year ago, over 250 students at Rutgers University-Newark have been exploring our emerging majority minority country through Newest Americans projects. In partnership with photojournalists and filmmakers from VII Photo and social documentary production company Talking Eyes Media, students and faculty working in multiple academic and artistic disciplines—Journalism, American Studies, English, Graphic Design, Book Arts, Photography, Theater, History— have been documenting the local stories that have something to tell us about our national demographic future.
We are excited that the work we have been producing is finding an audience. Several Newest Americans short films have been selected for the Garden State and Black Maria film festivals and picked up for print and/or digital publication by National Geographic, The Atlantic and PDN Storytellers. Art and digital media created in collaboration with The Glassbook Project was exhibited at Newark’s Gateway Gallery. Working with the other members of the Humanities Action Laboratory, we helped design and create States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue on Local Histories—a touring national exhibit on mass incarceration that recently debuted at The New School before traveling to over 20 sites around the country. In February, Newest Americans helped launch the Krueger-Scott African American Oral History archive and website in conjunction with the opening of We Found Our Way: Newark Portraits From The Great Migration, an exhibit at the Newark Public Library. Newest Americans films and other digital media inspired by the Krueger-Scott interviews were featured in the exhibit.
Several Newest Americans films are slated for the upcoming Montclair Film Festival, along with panel discussions with some of the films’ subjects, including Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. Tickets are available here.
Our digital magazine is a portal into the project and a platform to disseminate some of the work we are most excited about. The third issue both breaks new ground and tills familiar soil. Flashes features our first work of short fiction, by MFA Writing candidate Shaleena Koruth, with photographs by Ed Kashi, and the story of one of the desi gas station attendants who inspired Flashes. Hijabi World offers video and memoir in response to interviews conducted by undergraduates Dina Sayedahmed and Hamna Saleem with Jersey girls who wear the hijab. The Ironbound’s Immigrant Ministry focuses on Pastor Moacir Weirich and the Newark community he serves, as observed through the lens of Maciek Nabrdalik’s photographs and the words of Cynthia Mellon. The issue also returns to several continuing features, including the third episode of the web series American Sueño, and the latest installments of the graphic novel Face of a City, blog posts from Maid in the USA, and the audio essays of From Where I Stand.
If you would like to keep up to date with what Newest Americans is doing or learn more about the project, please sign up to receive our newsletter.
Words: Tim Raphael