Director of “Dark Girls” documentary will explore sexuality in the black church in film to debut soon in Newark

Director Channsin Berry isn’t one to shy away from controversial subject matters. With his critically acclaimed documentary Dark Girls, Berry nudged open the floodgates to a conversation about colorism in black communities.

Dark Girls spurred furious social media discussions, a bevy of think pieces, and put an issue that has long roiled black communities at the forefront of many people’s consciousness.

Channisin Berry

Channisin Berry

Four years after Dark Girls‘ debut, the Newark native is asking another set of questions, this time about the black church, that will almost certainly trigger another set of intense discussions. But Berry hopes that these conversations do more than bring these issues to the forefront. He hopes that alongside awareness comes healing.

“In my films, I like to talk about things that black people don’t want to talk about. Things that they go hush-hush about. I believe that those are the things we need to discuss to heal as a people.”

In Berry’s upcoming documentary, the director focuses his lens on sexuality in the black church. For Berry, the term “sexuality” encompasses more than sexual orientation and the church’s relationship to the LGBT community and issues. Berry also explores the church’s long-standing patriarchal system and the double standards that follow. The Church House: Sexuality in The Black Church is the fruit of that exploration.

“The reason I decided I wanted to do this documentary is because I had heard so many stories about what was going on in the black church, and I got tired of it,” said Berry. “I wanted to know where the black church stood on sexuality and sex.”

One of the stories Berry referenced was the infamous one of Reverend Eddie Long, the senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, who was accused of sleeping with underage members of his congregation.

“I have children of my own, and if I can’t trust that they are safe in the church, then what can I trust?” lamented Berry. “We need to talk about sex. When we act like sex is not a natural part of our lives, that’s when bad things happen.”

The Newark native, who was raised in the black church himself, recognizes the church’s integral role in the lives of many black people and families, but with this film, Berry urges church leaders and the church establishment to reevaluate the way they discuss sex and sexuality in their congregations.

“The black church is so many things to so many different families: it is a place of refuge, a place of service, and a place of peace. But we need to have open and honest conversations about what’s going on in the church,” said Berry.

“That’s what I tried to do with this documentary. For example, I had to ask: why do women make up a majority of the church’s population, but they are often never invited up to the pulpit? I wanted to understand what it meant to be a black woman in a black church,” he continued.

Vesta Godwin, director of the St. James Social Service Corporation, said she knew the film would not be without controversy. “A film such as The Church House may ruffle quite a few feathers in the religious community,” she said. “Sexuality in the church has long been a taboo subject, which Mr. Berry is making a bold statement about by bringing many of the truths to light. It is will definitely spark conversations amongst those who see it, and those who have heard about it.”

In collaboration with the St. James Social Service Corporation, Berry has organized the Newark premiere of the documentary at the Paul Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers-Newark in the coming week. As the 57-year-old gears up for his hometown debut, his lofty hopes for a breakthrough in the black church are at the forefront of his mind and message.

“What I want people to walk away from with this movie is to notice that there is an issue in the black church, and hopefully that will spawn conversation and, in turn, action can be taken,” Berry said. “I want us to find a way that we can heal the relationships in the black church and heal ourselves in the process.”

The Church House will screen at the Paul Robeson Campus Center on September 28 at 6:30 p.m. For tickets visit EventBrite or call 973-624-4007.


Intensive copperplate etching workshop comes back to the Newark Print Shop

Returning at the Newark Print Shop next month due to popular demand is the second installment of their “Intensive Etching Workshop.”

The workshop will be held on Sunday, October 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with instructor Sharon Lindenfeld.

Students will learn the foundational skills of copperplate etching art in this workshop. Techniques that will be covered in this course include line etching, spray paint aquatint, sugarlift, softground, spit bite, white ground and a la poupee.

Participants should bring a sketch or idea for a 6 by 8 inch image, which they will transfer to a copperplate, etch with acid, and print with an etching press.

“This process creates fine, elegant lines, velvety tones, interesting textures, and often, happy accidents and unexpected results,” The Newark Print Shop said.

The cost of the course is $125, which includes a materials fee that covers a 6 by 8 inch copper plate, inks, grounds, acid, and paper.

Interested participants can sign up for the etching workshop at

The Newark Print Shop is located at 84 University Ave in Newark. Questions about the workshop should be directed to

Featured image courtesy of the Newark Print Shop

NJIT to host a TEDx talk event, discussing urban renewal and revitalization

The New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark is hosting their 6th TEDxNJIT on September 29, featuring conversations and speeches on the theme “ideas worth spreading.”

TEDx events model the official TED talk format of individuals delivering lectures about their ideas. TEDx programs are local, self-organized events that create a “TED-like experience” for the public, according to TEDxNJIT.

This year’s theme is “Urban Phoenix – Renewal & Revitalization.” Topics include “the future of the urban city exploring healthcare as a driver of urban renewal, celebration of art and dance in the urban environment, new models for innovation, architecture and design for today’s cities and the present and future of urban education,” according to event literature.

The event will be held from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m at the Jim Wise Theater in Kupfrian Hall at NJIT in Newark. Tickets are $30 for the public and $15 for students. A light dinner is included in the ticket price.

To register or for more information visit The event will be streamed live on that website.

The event’s speakers include:

  • Marylou Bongiorno and Jerome Bongiorno – Newark Filmmakers
  • Michael Dixon – General Manager, IBM’s Global Smarter Cities Business
  • Tomas Gregorio – Senior Executive Director -Healthcare Delivery Systems (NJII)
  • Taneshia Laird – Legacy Business Advisors LLC.
  • Adesina Sampson – NJIT Dance Team Coach & Student Team
  • Dr. Donald Sebastian – CEO New Jersey Innovation Institute – NJIT
  • Dr. Georgeen Theodore – Professor College of Architecture and Design – NJIT

Featured image courtesy of TEDxNJIT

Celebrate the Art of Food with Newark restaurants and culinary experts at The Gateway Project this month

The fall series “The Art of …” kicks off in downtown Newark next Thursday, September 17 with “The Art of Food,” the first of four events hosted by local artistic event creator Abbi Creative.

The Art of Food, co-hosted by Food Snobbery and Brick City Eats, will have attendees sample new dishes, popular menu items, and catering options from Newark restaurants. The event is meant to spotlight “the amazing culinary opportunities that the residents, employees and visitors of Newark have around them to partake,” The Gateway Project said.

Some of the restaurants that will be featured at The Art of Food include Commerce Downtown Kitchen, Mama WaWa’s sweet Eat’n, Mercato Tomato Pie, and SugarCoated Affairs. There will also be some giveaways from restaurants including Eat Me up Cuisine by Chef Alexia Grant, and Dinosaur Barbecue.

The event will also provide networking opportunities, and include a live band, a cash bar, and games such as “Food Bingo,” and “Guess the Ingredient.”

“The Art of…” series is a project created by creative entrepreneur Abbi Yeboah, inspired by her new location operating out of the Gateway Project, an art gallery and studio space. The series will follow with events featuring the art of shoes, beards and wine.

The Art of Food will be held at The Gateway Project, located at 2 Gateway Center in Newark. The event will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and tickets are $20. You can RSVP online here. For more information, call (973) 977-8799 or email

Featured image by John Tornow via Flickr, Creative Commons 

Beyond Exile: Cubans in New Jersey exhibit presented by Newark Public Library

The Newark Public Library’s annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration will feature an exhibit Beyond Exile: Cubans in New Jersey and a series of complementary public programs at the Main Library on 5 Washington Street.

New Jersey is home to the second-largest Cuban population in the United States; the area of Union City and West New York was nicknamed “Havana on the Hudson” in the late 70s and 80s. Beyond Exile illustrates why Cubans were drawn to the Garden State during the second half of the 20th century and how— as they built strong, intimate, and vibrant communities—they transformed the culture and economies of many towns in Northern New Jersey.

The exhibit also examines the roles of women, the arts, religion, political culture, and the effect of exile itself in the community’s immigrant experience. It includes a selection of works by Cuban-American artists, historical maps of La Habana, photographs, and vintage Cuban postcards from the Library’s Special Collections Division. The exhibit will be on view in the Main Library’s 2nd Floor Gallery during regular Library hours, Monday, Friday, Saturday: 9:00 to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from September 17 through December 31, 2015.

Sociologist Lisandro Pérez will present the keynote address at the opening reception on September 17 at 6 pm in Centennial Hall. Dr. Pérez has devoted his career to the study of Cuba, with particular attention to the Cuban presence in the United States. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York and is the author of The Legacy of Exile: Cubans in the United States.

Additional programs include a concert, The History of Cuba in 12 Songs, on September 26 at 2 p.m., and a film screening of The New Latinos followed by a panel discussion on October 17 at 2 p.m. Both programs are cosponsored by Rutgers University Libraries as part of the ‘Latino Americans: 500 Years of History’ grant project.

A lecture and demonstration, Defining La Regla Lucumí: Dispelling Misconceptions about Santeria, on November 7 at 2 p.m. will explore the evolution of Santería in Cuba, its preservation as a legitimate system of belief and worship, and its connection to art, music and everyday life. This event is presented in partnership with La Casa de Educación y Cultura Latina, Inc. of Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

On November 21 at 2 p.m., viewers of the short film The Lost Child will follow the personal journey of one of the more than 14,000 children sent from Cuba to the United States by their parents in the early 1960s as part of what came to be known as “Operation Peter Pan”—the largest recorded exodus of unaccompanied minors in the western hemisphere. The series of programs ends on December 5 at 2 p.m. with Moving to the Rhythms of Cuba, a guided tour through Cuba’s rich and diverse dance and musical landscape, from early African percussion to modern-day Salsa and Timba.

La Casa de Don Pedro’s Domestic Violence Advocacy Program will host a Domestic Violence Prevention Fair in collaboration with the Newark Public Library and Union City Artist Collective. The event will be held on the 4th floor of the Library on October 5 through October 7 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

On October 24 at 2 p.m., join author Fausto Romero for a book presentation (in Spanish) of the novel Los Rieles del TamarindoEl tiempo del Cóndor followed by a discussion and signing.

The Newark Public Library is located at 5 Washington Street. All programs are free and open to the public. More details about the exhibit and programs are available at Please call the Sala Hispanoamericana at 973–733–7772 or email for further information or for group visits.

Find the above-noted events on here on’s calendar.

Featured image used via Creative Commons license.

(Em)Power Dynamics exhibit opens at The Gateway Project tomorrow

tomorrowThe art exhibition (Em)Power Dynamics: Exploring the Modes of Female Empowerment and Representation in America, will debut tomorrow at The Gateway Project with an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. The exhibition features the work of thirteen artists, and is inspired by work dating from two generations of American feminist art: Georgia O’Keeffe’s early twentiety century flower paintings, and Ana Mendieta’s Untitled (Facial Cosmetic Variations), dated 1972.

these artists exemplify the diversities of concerns, aesthetics, concepts, and approaches that make up the movement. The participating artists look to confront the pervasiveness of patriarchy within the American social landscape with their work.

In selecting artists for the exhibit, The Gateway Project sought to showcase the wide diversity of concerns, aesthetics, concepts, and approaches that comprise feminism and feminist art. Participating artists include Jaishri Abichandani, Renée Cox, Ayana Evans, FLUCT, Angela Fraleigh, Chitra Ganesh, Rachel Mason, Marilyn Minter, Sophia Narrett, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Michele Pred, Ventiko, and Shoshanna Weinberger.

Newswire: 3rd Annual Hot Rods & Classic Car Show Returns to Newark’s North Ward

Hot cars, cool music, great food and fun for the whole family will return to Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark’s historic Forest Hill neighborhood when Mt. Prospect Partnership (MPP) presents the 3rd Annual Hot Rods & Classic Car Show on Sunday, September 13th from 11:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. The Partnership has also partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the event to help raise awareness and financial support for the fight against breast cancer. Admission is free for the general public. The rain date is September 20th.

This year’s show will award over $1100 in cash prizes, with more than 100 vehicles expected to compete for top honors. Other event highlights will include a chance to meet Superman, Batman and Captain America, music provided by the Newark Arts High School Jazz Ensemble plus a DJ, a variety of food and ice cream vendors and children’s entertainment like face painters, stilt walkers, balloon artists and more.

“Thousands of people from Newark and other communities in Essex County and beyond participated in last year’s event and we expect more this year,” noted Frank Petolino, MPP’s Executive Director. “We are attracting lots of local classic car owners and enthusiasts and more from outside of Newark with ties to the city who want to be part of the family-friendly atmosphere we have created on the Avenue for the show.”

“We look forward to welcoming community members and visitors to the car show and showcasing the streetscape upgrades, new welcome banners and other improvements the Partnership has supported that are changing the face of our community,” stated Michael Sheehan, MPP President. “For classic car owners, it’s a minimal amount ($15 pre-show/$20 day of show) for a great event, great prizes and a worthy cause. For attendees, it’s a wonderful time to enjoy together with friends, family and neighbors.”

Mt. Prospect Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic during the event between Delavan Avenue and Heller Parkway. Absolutely no bicycles or skateboards will be allowed in the display area.

Staging of the vehicles will start on the day of the event between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged. Those that register early to secure specific locations must be in their assigned spots by 9:30 a.m. or they may lose those specific locations.

For more information about the event or to register, please contact Frank Petolino (973-481-6200) or Chris Bernardo (973-424-6499). Prospective participants can also pick up a registration form at Petolino Florist (650 Mt. Prospect Avenue).

“The Prize” author Dale Russakoff to discuss Newark education reform at public library panel

The Newark Public Library will be hosting a panel discussion and book signing to commemorate the publication of The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools, by journalist Dale Russakoff, on September 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Prize details the fate of the $100 million pledge made to Newark schools by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2010. The New York Times called the book “brilliantly reported” and a “sobering yet exhilarating tale” that may be “one of the most important books on education to come along in years.”

The book’s author, a former Washington Post reporter who is also a member of the Newark Historical Society, will be a part of the panel discussion.

Other panelists include Shané Harris, Vice-President of the Prudential Foundation; Mary Bennett, former Newark Public Schools teacher and leadership coach;  and Ryan Hill, executive director of KIPP NJ Charter Schools. The panel will be moderated by Richard Roper, president of the public policy consulting firm The Roper Group.

Free books will be given out to the first one hundred event attendees, courtesy of the Victoria Foundation. The Prize will also be available for purchase and signing.

The free public event will take place in Centennial Hall in the library. RSVP by calling the library at 973-733-7793. The Newark Public Library is located at 5 Washington Street in Newark.

Featured images courtesy of the Newark Public Library

Bassist Mimi Jones to perform free WBGO jazz concert in Newark

Jazz enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a free concert this week in Newark featuring bassist Mimi Jones, hosted by WBGO radio. The concert will take place Wednesday, September 2 at 12 p.m. at 2 Gateway Center in downtown Newark.

Jones has toured all over the world as a United States Jazz Ambassador, and performed or recorded with artists such as Lionel Hampton and Tia Fuller.

Newark Public Radio, WBGO Jazz88.3FM was New Jersey’s first public radio station that strives to promote and preserve jazz as an American cultural art form. The radio station has been producing free concerts for the Newark public since 1981.

WBGO’s “Afternoon Jazz” and “Singers Unlimited” host Michael Bourne will present the concert.

Featured image via WBGO

Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival will hit Newark this Fall

The city will come alive with art this October, with a vast variety of visual, performing and literary art cropping up throughout Newark during the “Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival,” hosted by the Newark Arts Council from October 15 to October 18.

“Open Doors” will take place throughout the Newark community across 40 venues, each celebrating “Newark’s unique and diverse contributions to the arts and to American culture,” according to the council.

The festival will include work in diverse mediums, in forms such as art installations, new media, poetry and screenings. The art has been curated by the Newark Arts Council from submissions from local artists. Thursday evening will kick off the festival with a “traditional art reception.”

The council is still looking for volunteers and sponsors of the festival. Individuals, groups, organizations and businesses interested in participating in the festival should contact Joyce Anne Judd at

For more information about the festival or the Newark Arts council, visit, or call the council’s office at 973-643-1625, and stay tuned for an events schedule.

The Newark Arts Council is located at 17 Academy Street in Newark, and it is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Featured image courtesy of the Newark Arts Council