Brittanie Thomas, a 34-year-old creative practitioner and advocate from Glassboro, is making waves in the media with her new podcast, Attention Black Creatives (ABC). As a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at Rowan University, Thomas is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts. Her podcast aims to prioritize Black creative voices who have a longstanding connection to Glassboro.
The podcast was born when Melanie Stewart, the founding chair and associate dean for the college of performing arts at Rowan University, persuaded Thomas to join the Creative Glassboro public advisory group. Thomas kept a close eye on things for four years, taking the time to comprehend the board’s culture and operations. Thomas joined as a general member in 2022 and suggested Attention Black Creatives to the Creative Glassboro Board as a diversity, equity and inclusion project.
The podcast’s pilot phase includes Thomas as the committee chair, co-producer and creative director. Stewart is the co-chair and executive producer. Radio, Television & Film (RTF) professor Keith Brand works as the producer. Junior RTF major, Elizabeth Jamison, is the production assistant. Rowan alum Eli & Nkozi of Atlas Studios are the music producers and pilot interviewees. Creative Glassboro is the presenter and The Better Give Back Foundation, Inc. x Rowan University are community partners.
“While developing The ABC Podcast, I have experienced the exact undermining and microaggressions for which I speak about,” Thomas said. “It’s been hurtful at times, but I try to remain sober in recalling that this is the exact purpose why The ABC Podcast is so important, and more importantly why it is coined as a diversity, equity, and inclusion learning series, above all else.”
Thomas’ purpose with the Attention Black Creatives Podcast is to highlight Black creative voices from Glassboro. The podcast adds to the greater conversation about diversity and representation in the media since it has its own aesthetic style and its own protocols.
“I was also interested in opening up a creative avenue for Black artists and creative professionals to comfortably document their experiences, grievances, and overall impressions of the town’s creative landscape,” Thomas said.
The premiere edition of the Attention Black Creatives Podcast features two Glassboro residents and Rowan University alumni. They fit the podcast’s qualifications, which permits BIPOC alumni and current Glassboro School District and Rowan University students to participate. In addition, the show has an official interviewee form that anyone can fill out.
“There’s honestly no one we are looking to exclude, as long as they meet the criteria. Over time, we intend to open up the criteria to incorporate educators, administrators, faith/spiritual leaders and other categories of BIPOC artists and creatives connected to Glassboro,” Thomas said. “We are genuine in wanting to know where they create, what their impressions are on what is offered creatively in the town and even those creative pinpoints held.”
Thomas’ goal for the podcast is to give individuals a safe venue to tell their tales, which is a tried-and-true method of fostering trust and transparency. Thomas’ ultimate goal is for Rowan University to sponsor or co-sponsor a physical space that will act as a creative cultivation hub and state-of-the-art community facility maintained and managed by a third-party non-profit organization.
Her long-term ambition for the podcast is to have its own official brand. This would provide the Creative Glassboro Board and the Attention Black Creatives Podcast Committee with a direct resources for improving the work and exposing the BIPOC community.
“With the podcast, our goal is to highlight participating artists and creatives, exchange ideas and gain a culturally diverse perspective to better inform our understanding of how Creative Glassboro can serve to make Glassboro a better place to live and work,” Thomas said. “That statement shouldn’t be mistaken as an inspirational mission or vision statement, but rather a sincere call to action.”
Furthermore, Thomas would like the ABC Podcast learning outcomes to guide and validate the need for a Rowan University-sponsored creative hub and nurturing center, which is equally shared by the Glassboro community.
“I have a dream to realize a more socially responsible relationship between the university and the Black community of Glassboro,” Thomas said. “As quiet as it’s kept, the relationship between Rowan University and the general community is not overall positive. I believe an acknowledgment of this is necessary and can be the catalyst for realizing more harmony, shared space and creativity… I’ve seen models of this at other institutions who hold significant space within the communities they occupy,”
The location of the podcast is yet to be determined. Thomas hopes that a Black or BIPOC media agency or hosting platform will be involved, which is in line with her objective to ensure that Black creatives are utilized at every stage of this project. Although no interest has yet been indicated, Thomas hopes that Rowan University’s radio station will come around and provide a place for the podcast to live within its own podcast lineup.
This endeavor represents an exciting new chapter in Glassboro’s history. Thomas is challenging and broadening the prevailing narrative in media and the arts by boosting the voices of Black creatives and making space for them to express their stories. Her concept for a creative hub and community center is lofty, but it has the potential to make a long-term difference in the neighborhood.
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