Sofiya Ballin: “What I Wish I Knew” about the African Diaspora

In our latest OogeeCast (our official podcast series), I talked to Sofiya Ballin, staff writer for; she completed a well-received, interactive project called “Black History: What I Wish I Knew,” a photography and personal essay series exploring untold black American history with a keen focus on the African diaspora.

It featured Marc Lamont Hill, Rakia Reynolds, Jessie Williams, Jazmine Sullivan, Lorene Cary, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Anyabwile Love, and many more beautiful human beings.

“An identity series that explores the importance of a comprehensive black history education.”

I made an evening trip to the Philadelphia Inquirer to exchange thoughts with Ballin about the ever-evolving black American identity, the importance of Pan-Africanism, the unnecessary need for white American guilt, and how to reconcile with hyphenated Americanness.

On the Congolese word Mbongi:

“In our class, it was a classroom without walls and that’s what I wanted this to be. I wanted this to be a very unorthodox classroom. I want this to be people learning from other people’s experiences, and that the classroom can be anywhere.”

We played around a bit in the “Fishtown” lounge room inside the Philadelphia Inquirer:




Click podcast button just below the feature image above or listen directly below. Also, check out the Twitter timeline: #blackhistoryuntold

Below is a quick snapshot of the series:
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Content Director at OogeeWoogee. I'm a nomad; I like to engage in cross-cultures experiences---I'm a wanderlust, eating pancakes everywhere I go.

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