Latest Posts

To Correct A Disconnection (An Update)

I made some changes to my site without really understanding what that all means. I moved my domain from WordPress to Squarespace but didn’t realize I would lose all of my WordPress supporters.

The site url is still the same (blackandbookish.com) and I wanted some integrations WordPress couldn’t give me. Of course, I miss you guys too and want to make sure you get my updates. This link (http://eepurl.com/cyfNXz) will send you to a new sign up page.

I also have an event coming up this weekend in Eatonville, Florida. I am really excited about it, after attending events for the past year. Called “The Club With No Books”, I’ll be leading a discussion on the theme of Individual Choice vs. Societal Expectations. For more details photo the link below!

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Hope to see you there!

Post Election Thoughts and A Call to Action (or How Black Souls Kept Me Grounded)

Like you, I spent the rest of election week feeling exhausted.

I could barely keep my eyes open. My brain was in a fog, as if weary from longing to see through a muddy or rain-soaked windshield blocking my view of the road ahead. My children and I became sick, but I think that was a coincidence. Either way, I needed a few days to take in both the election results AND all the chatter about what those results meant.

Since then I’ve been reading think-pieces and opinion polls nonstop. The pundits and pollsters say they have evidence of what we missed, why we missed it, and what this means for Americans (or the globe, depending on how apocalyptic they feel). As a Black American female, nothing has changed for me. I will still receive oppression due to the color of my skin and the anatomy of my body. I will still be asked weird and uncomfortable questions about my history, my family, and my hair.

If 2016 had one shining beacon, it would be because it was the year I got to know a deeper Black America than just my childhood home. The depth of racism and prejudice towards “the other” in America is as loud as thunder. It is so uncomfortable that people would rather deny it to your face than sit with the idea that they themselves may not be the ally they thought they were. Because I filled my soul with the stories of the disenfranchised, I was already awake when that thunderous roar was finally loud enough to rouse a sleeping nation to what Black America had endured since we stepped off the boats. Now everyone could see it (but probably because it was aimed at many more people). Racism and bigotry ran for president and won. Many Black Americans saw it as inevitable and lacked the surprise or disillusionment so many of our White American friends found on their faces. Now a mourn of cries have filled the air thick with sorrow and regret.

But Black America did not weep this election.

I have been reading black history accounts and think-pieces written by writers of color all year. Stories by Octavia Butler that predicted this horrible election and Ta-Nehisi Coates about the reality of the unsafe black body. Adichie’s commentary on black american culture from a non-American black (Americanah) is almost necessary to drown out the confusion. I listen to Lemonade (Beyoncé) and A Seat at the Table (Solange), which made my voice (black womanhood) the framework for their art. I finished watching Luke Cage, which made a bulletproof black man the hero of Harlem. I watched documentaries on black lives ranging from the prison system to racial identity. I read poetry so beautiful it hurt. I lived many lives this year and all of them were black.

But I was becoming consumed by those mournful American cries. In the liberal headquarters that is suburban Los Angeles, strangers on the street would give me looks of sorrow- the air smelled of death without the requirement of a corpse. It became overwhelming!

Until I watched Dr. Cornel West give an interview the day President-elect Donal Trump met with President Barack Obama.

Speaking to a BBC correspondent, Dr. West critiques the Democratic party and Obama for their lack of effort in speaking to the concerns of working class and poor people. ALL working class and poor people, NOT just white men. This notion was similar to other critiques of the left-leaning party and by this point I had no reason to think otherwise. Like I said, I have been reading think-pieces all week. But what he says at the end really got me:

Interviewer: Do you fear for your country’s future at the moment?

West: I have always feared for the future of America because every democratic experiment is very fragile and I come from a people who have been enslaved, Jim Crowed, hated, lynched, but we never lost our spirit, we never lost our willingness to love, to laugh, to live, and embrace others. So yes, I have deep fear for the future of this democratic experiment, the American empire is in deep crisis, the aim is, how do you revitalize it? You revitalize it by remaining true to the truth-telling and the witness-bearing for justice that have kept American democracy alive, though often times, very very difficult times, including bleak moments like today.

(Italics my own)

(Update 11/18: Dr. Cornel West wrote an even longer response to this concept in the Guradian.)

The people he spoke of, the people I have been reading about, watching, and experiencing at full force are the same people I come from. And in times like this, we find ways to laugh and love and come together. We make food for each other and talk. We sing joyous songs and dance with our children. We use our angst and sorrow to make intense art and in that art we make a statement of justice and social action.

Because I was done sulking, I stepped into action.

The next day proved Dr. West’s point beautifully. A friend invited me to a casual get together for black women to commune with each other. We played music and made jokes. We sat in silence but also talked and talked. We ate junk food and mango smoothies because sometimes you need a little of both. It felt so good to feel all of my emotions in the company of other who would not dismiss them as unfounded or inappropriate. We all could be “unapologetically black” in whatever ways that meant to us, and then able to channel all of those feelings into constructive ideas for change.

One woman (an elder) was old enough to remember the first Civil Rights movement. Of small frame, fair skin, and her hair worn in a high bun, she spoke with a soft tone and dignified clarity. We would all have to lean in around the warm fire pit to hear her poetic phrases. We pressed her about her feelings on race, harmony, and the need to really find ourselves. She reminded us that it takes many hands to do all of the work. Gesturing as she talked, she gave examples of social activism that might not always look as such.

“Someone has to be over here to hold up the wall of oppression so it does not come crashing down on all of us. Someone has to go and feed the children so they will be nourished and able to learn. Someone has to teach to the ones who are not like us so they can give that message to the ones who will not listen to us. And we must all learn to commune in ways we are not accustom anymore. You find out what your purpose is and find your peace. “

I had walked into that circle with confusion and angst; but with her guiding words and the love of the group, we all felt renewed. None of us knew what our next steps would be, but we were ready to make them. She had carried in compassion, engulfed us with knowledge, and pushed us all back into the world.

I know you are tired too. So what do we do now?

The onslaught of news after the election paired with stress and news of the election has some of us watching this train wreck with heavy hearts. Many of you thought the next couple of years would be easier- you thought you might be able to take a rest and breathe easy. How embarrassing for so many of us to be so wrong? 

If you can stomach don’t look away. Watch and react, and in some cases, act up. Make your shock and horror be known to the people begging for peace- they are not your allies. They will tell us to quiet down and be patient, that this isn’t the time, and we just need to wait and see. I simply cannot- many of us are not on the side of the road but on the train, asking those who can to help.

So really, what should we do?

We take care of each other: If you haven’t already, find someone (or a group of someones) and talk. Get it out of your head and lean on someone. Let someone lean on you. Stop waiting for someone to ask for help. Hate crimes have increased since the election results, so be vigilant. It’s happening in blue states too.

We take care of ourselves: The article How Women of Color Are Practicing Self-Care in a Trump World shared what women all over the country were doing to stay sane. I personally like to take a long shower and deep clean my hair. All self-care looks different so this list is a suggestion.

We learn: Books are the first defense against misunderstanding and fear. Learn about people you know nothing about. Understand the history behind oppression and suffering.

We fight: There are protest springing up all around the US. If protest is your fight song you should be marching on the street. Another way to fight is to call your local congressmen. Calling is much better than writing. Join a local activist group or donate money to organizations in support of causes you care about.

You don’t have to be able to do ALL the work. Find your passion and go from there. 

If you’re still feeling terrible by this point, let Amber tell you why you should #jointhefun!

Top Ten for the Weekend: “About the Author” Edition

The weather is finally cooling down in Los Angeles and now that Halloween is over, it won’t be long before we all start hearing Christmas Chorals. Everything moves so fast here in LA LA land.

This week I thought it would be fun to give you some dirt on me a chance to get to know me better. Each interesting article I encountered this week found a way to link itself back to me in a more personal way.

What I’m Reading

51me02yn1yl-_sx331_bo1204203200_I’ve slowly started to read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson as a read-a-loud to my girls. They are still pretty young to be completely engaged; however, the language is mesmerizing and the use of poetry helps to make the content relevant. Her imagery reminds me of growing up in a southern family and really missing my hometown. Sharing this memoir with my girls is a way to show them some of my own histories in a context they already enjoy. I haven’t gotten very far, but from what I have read, and what other have said about her writing, I would recommend it. Have you read it? What did you think?

I’m also in the first few pages of another poetry memoir of an indie author by the name of Kevin Anglade. Titled Life Comes from Concrete, he is the founder and president of Flowerd Concrete, an independent publisher based in NYC that focuses on black authors. This is work I would like to be doing in the near future so partnering to bring his work and the books of others is a very big part of Black and Bookish. I hope by showcasing their work I can help supporting their craft. Visit kevinanglade.com for information and to purchase his book.

I’m still entangled in Americanah and I think that’s because the point of view switch and I lost some interest. Not to say the book isn’t a masterpiece but the pages are starting to add up in this love story. I’m almost 400 pages in, more than halfway through, and I’m ready for the climax to hit so I can wrap this up.

51kugs0rril-_sx332_bo1204203200_I need to start reading Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly because it is the Bookish Angst pick this month. We will be reading and discussing this book up until the movie release date on Christmas Day. My co-host and I decided to move our discussions into a new Facebook Group to make connecting with you much easier. Please click the link and join us, even if you aren’t ready to read the book. Take a moment to introduce yourself and what genre you enjoy the most. (Mine is Sci-Fi!)

What Makes a Family

I’ve probably talked about this before but I have a multicultural family. My husband is white (of unknown origins), making my daughters mixed/biracial. My husband and I very clearly emphasize to my oldest her cultural heritage because we have very little information about our ancestries. We do this because there can be some ambiguity that follows mixed race children or multicultural families into adulthood and I want my girls to have the full confidence they deserve regardless of their heritage. Here are some articles I came across this week that speak to the disconnect between race, the ability to connect to larger causes, and worldly expectations of multicultural families.

Not Having A Black Boyfriend Doesn’t Make Me Less Black really hit home because- news flash, I’m still black. I’m very pro-black. A black activist in fact. A black, female, womanist activist who is very much for black liberation from institutional racism and discrimination. People tend to think very singularly when it comes to activism and positions on race, and may even forget that non-people of color can also be pro-black. My husband feels connected to my family and would very much like to end the racial discrimination my brothers face that he (my spouse) has only heard of. When we look at life in these shallow dimensions, we forget that individuals are complex.

I’m Not the Nanny: Multiracial Families and Colorism, is a review of Lori L. Tharps’s (co-author of Hair Story) new book, Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families. Her research has led her to discover what parents do to compensate the color discrimination between light and darker individuals (a discrimination Alice Walker coined as Colorism), how these families are seen to outsiders, and what the next steps for many of us can be to ease the pain of racial discrimination all around. After reading her work in Hair Story and personally experiencing the ways in which colorism affects my life, I am very excited to pick up her book.

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Negga and Edgerton above portraying Mildred and Richard Loving pictured below. 

And in select theaters, you can see the new movie Loving, starring Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, about the landmark case “Loving vs.Virginia”. This case made it legal in all states to marry someone of a different race, something that could have you fined and jailed up until 1967. If you find that this movie is not playing near you, The Loving Story, a documentary about the same couple and court case, is streaming on HBO. June 12th is the anniversary of this court case and many around the country pause to reflect and remember the Lovings and their strength.

The Past and the Future Collide

Did you see or hear that Beyonce performed at the Country Music Awards on Wednesday night with the Dixie Chicks? And how can this be of any relevance to me??? Well, besides the fact that I grew up listening to country music, in addition to lots of other genres, watching the Dixie Chicks perform brought be back to high school. I’ve played classical violin since I was in grade school and learning Dixie Chicks songs and riffs happen to be something my friends and I would do. Not just the Dixie Chicks: I learned a mix of pop, country, classical, jazz, and hip-hop themes through my formidable years of playing.

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And finally, this coming Tuesday will be my third time participating in the general election. If you also feel it imperative to vote, but you don’t want to “throw your vote away”, some apps or sites allow for vote trading. As talked about in Third-party voters are “trading votes” with Clinton voters to defeat Trump, people in key swing states that want to vote for third party candidates are willing to vote for Clinton in exchange for someone voting third party in states that are already considered blue. This isn’t the first year people have done this, and as of 2007 it is very much legal. Would you trade your vote?

People have been posting their early voting pictures and although I have never voted early, I might before the week is out. Did you? For me its more than just a right. I like to remember those who came before me and who risked their lives to do so. Some of them, many of them, killed for this right. So I vote in every election, and I do so after researching the candidates and propositions.

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By this time next week, we’ll have a new president elect. See you on the other side.

Happy Halloween! (An update)

If you celebrated Halloween over the weekend, I hope you had a wonderful time and dressed to impress! What a joy it is seeing all the costumes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. People are extremely clever and funny, so those of you who get down and dirty during Halloween are amazing. Who (or what) did you dress up as?

If you happen to have kids, you’ve probably been celebrating Halloween all month AND get to go trick or treating tonight. My girls were tripping over themselves to get out the door at 8am to go Trick or Treating, and more than a little disappointed to know they still had a few hours to wait.

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If it looks like things have been put on hold here, I apologize for that- I have been preoccupied. And that is a GOOD thing. Sorry to be cryptic, but I have been given an opportunity to work on something I have wanted for a long time and it is taking up a lot of my free time. I haven’t spent my extra time reading, but I plan to make that a priority again. I should be able to read, write reviews/updates, AND work on my super secret project.

The other unfortunate news about all the new stuff I’m doing means I don’t have time to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with starts tomorrow. I can’t add anything else to my to-do list. That doesn’t mean YOU shouldn’t do it- I think everyone should try and do the (almost) impossible and write during NaNoWriMo. It’s fun and stressful and will push you. I’ll try my hand again at Camp NaNo in July.

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I will be participating in November’s book for the Bookish Angst Book Club. We have chosen Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, the true story of the African-American women who helped put a man on the moon. December will see the release of a film by the same title starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe. Please join us in reading this amazing story and I’ll be posting more about our discussion schedule at the end of the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And reviews! I have reviews coming, I promise. Until then, let me know what YOU’RE reading. What’s on your nightstand?

Top Ten for the Weekend (10/14/16)

What a week it has been! I’ve missed sharing these little listicle updates with you and this week felt perfect to catch you up to speed.

It was my birthday

I turned 32 earlier this week and I LOVE birthdays. I love the hoopla and singing (but not in public restaurants) and celebrating. Not just my birthday, but everyone’s birthdays. Give me party and cakes every day of the week because I love to celebrate.

And speaking of celebrating, my most recent book review was Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, a book about celebrating YOU. She wants you to get up and dance and sing and be the BADASS you can be. If you missed it, you can read up on my thoughts in Reading Year of Yes.51frryzt84l-_sx327_bo1204203200_

And badassery is exactly what these guys are serving up. In a recent NPR story, Choose A Book And Read To Your Barber, He’ll Take A Little Money Off The Top, barbers of Fuller Cut Barbershop will give you a discount if your child reads to them. But they don’t leave it at just a story. “Kids, Griffin explains, get quizzed by their barber to make sure they understand what they read.” It gets the kids reading and saves a few dollars for the parents.

Netflix is serving up DIVERSITY

Netflix released a new documentary directed my Ava DuVernay (director of Selma and upcoming a Wrinkle in Time) titled The 13th. It chronicles the connection a clause in the 13th amendment (which abolishes slavery) has to mass incarceration of black people within the United States. It is powerful and sometimes painful to watch, but I feel it is completely necessary to see how past policies have influenced generations of black men and women.

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And you’re watching Luke Cage, right? You should be. I’m pretty sure you’re way ahead of me and finished it days (or weeks) ago. If not, you’re missing out. What is Luke Cage? Marvel Studio’s newest tv series, streaming only on Netflix about an indestructible black man living in Harlem. Saving Harlem. What’s better than Cage’s story? How BLACK it is. Black Nerd Problems compiled a list of books featured in the show and others to understand being black in America, which they are calling the Luke Cage Syllabus. In addition, the music created and arrange for this show is so electrifying, it’s almost a character itself. The Luke Cage Musical Score Is (Finally) Available for Download–And on Vinyl, Too (!!!) give you the information on how to score the Luke Cage score. I have already pre-ordered my copy.

Black American Women and Our Country

You may have heard that black women are now the most educated group in the U.S. That is probably not news to any of you. What you might have missed this week was two distinct cases of discrimination against two women, each denied something because they were assumed to be lying about their background. Tamika Cross had to watch a man almost suffer because a flight attendant didn’t believe she was a doctor. Trish Doolin is an architect who was questioned unnecessarily about a paycheck she tried to deposit at her bank.

But, despite all of that, one woman left us all speechless. In a rebuttal to presidential Nominee Donald Trump, Michelle Obama made very clear the kind of person she was not willing to have as president. Below is her moving speech from Thursday in full.

I am currently reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I AM FLOORED. I’m not even done yet. I’ve carried this book with me everywhere and if it were a only 250 pages, I would be finished reading. It’s a massive 500+ pages, one of the longest books I’ve read in a long time. The commentary on race, black women, and politics is something many of us talk about and discuss. If you’re catching up on the Lemonade Syllabus, this is a good place to start. I see a book club pick in our future!

 

And I have been jammin’ out to A Seat At The Table, the new album by Solange. It is autobiographical, containing the essence of being a black woman in America. It is magical.

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Recently Finished

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Currently Reading

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Anything I miss? Comment below with what you’re reading, listening to, or watching that would make your Top Ten!

#SipandRead Photo Series: Nigger, The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word

Title: Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word

Author: Randall Kennedy

Publication Date: 2002

Photo Filter: Hipstamatic app using Uchitel 20 Film and Hornbecker Lens

Sipping: Morning Coffee

Original Post: Review Posted May 13, 2016

I wanted to create an image that would bother people just as much as the title of the book. This is the 5th or 6th idea I tried, always making sure you couldn’t see the face of the subject. I hope it’s understood that the hand and arm holding the book belongs to a white male. I loved the way it shows a simple nonchalance of the reader, holding a routine morning cup of coffee as if unaffected by the book content.

 

Reading Year of Yes: Shonda Rhimes Turns Her Sights on Making You the Best You Can Be (Book Review)

How do you feel when you find a book so charming it need not a recommendation?

The book itself may have an air of tranquillity that whispers softly, “read me.” The book cover looks inviting on the outside and the content synopsis on the inside is welcoming and pleasant. The author is a well-known or well-liked figure in the community so reading their words feel as if you are listening to a mentor and dear friend. When these types of books are released, they fly off the shelf due to excellent marketing into home libraries everywhere, frequently passed around to friends and family until their covers are worn and tattered.

I added a book just like this to my home library this past June. It was close to the top of my reading list because a few of my friends had already read it and it didn’t take a hard sell to ask my husband to pick up a copy while he was out. That book was Year of Yes: How To Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun and Be Your Own Person, Shonda Rhimes’ memoir chronicling her goal to “say yes” to all the things that scared her for one year.

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You may have noticed that she was not a public figure until very recently. She has been writing and producing movies and tv shows since the late-90s but stayed off camera and out of interview rooms. She could have attended any function she wanted, participated in almost any event; but she was so afraid or worried or busy that she almost always said no. She said no to friends, her kids, and to co-workers. She was essentially saying no to herself- to her health and to her sanity. Both a hardworking woman in the Entertainment Industry and social justice activist, life started to take a toll on her self-esteem and her weight.

As she explains in her book, she was done with being “miserable.”

If you don’t know who she is, Shonda Rhimes is the creator and showrunner of three tv-shows- “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal”, and “How to Get Away With Murder”. She pretty much owns Thursday nights on ABC. She is a professional writer, a devoted mother, and all around badass black women. In her book, she recounts memories of her schooling and upbringing, as well as living and growing up with a close-knit family. But mostly, she talks about THAT YEAR, the Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand, One Hundred, and Fourteen.

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From the very first page, she was honest and engaging. I mean, LAUGH OUT LOUD funny. I couldn’t get past the first few pages (the DISCLAIMER) without attracting attention to myself. I laughed at my dinner table and on a crowded bus; I laughed while hiding in my bathroom and late at night after my family went to bed. I laughed and laughed and laughed, but mostly, I was INSPIRED.

I loved that every chapter was centered around a particular subject she decided to say yes to. Not random, “yes to hiking on Saturdays”, but of tangible, S.M.A.R.T. goals she could track and implement over time. She declared to being more aware and to be kinder to herself. She eliminated the notion that she could “do it all” as a working mother, and reminded me that I should do the same. I could also relate to the sticky and gooey feeling of being an F.O.D. (First. Only. Different), appreciative that she was saying out loud some of the things I had only wondered to myself.

Every moment I spent with Shonda’s Year of Yes felt like a warm embrace in a cold storm.

At the time, I was halfway through my #yearofblackbooks, creating a deep connection to her freedom to say “YES.” Every yes I said to a new book felt the same as the yes she would say to award shows, commencement ceremonies, and interviews. I realized that if I could say “YES!” to books and knowledge, I could say yes to all of me. To my health, to my kids, to my sanity.

“Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.” ― Shonda Rhimes

I was already on my own path of “YES!” when I started Year of Yes. And I will continue on, making room for the things I know give me happiness and a sense of wholeness. I recommend Year of Yes to anyone looking for the inspiration to change things up, or simply have a good belly laugh.

Shonda Rhimes delivered a TED Talk in February 2016 and I highly recommend you watch it.

You can pick up your copy of Shonda Rhimes’ book on Amazon. You can also follow her on Twitter . And I challenge you to take some time, think of your happiness, and maybe, start saying YES to YOURSELF?

Litsy Lemonade Interview: Antoinette Scully

Thanks to the Litsy Feminist Bookclub and Rachel Mans McKenny for the opportunity to participate in this Lemonade Syllabus blog series highlighting black women bloggers.

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So excited to be back with another great interview for our series for Americanah. If you missed the first two interviews in the series (and the explanation of the Lemonade Syllabus project, see these two posts– first and second)

Antoinette Scully

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Today, I’m lucky enough to hear from the awesome blogger behind Black and Bookish, where she focuses on black culture in fiction and non-fiction, and she shares the reasoning behind her blog in her post “What Made Me Go ‘All Black‘”

Below are her responses to the interview. Make sure to check out her blog, as well as follow her on Twitter (@amariescully) and of course, Litsy (@BlackandBookish).

1. How did you get into blogging?
I sort of fell into it a few years ago just to try. I didn’t have anything compelling to talk about, so I would start a new blog, and then…

View original post 429 more words

My First (Blog) Award: 2016 Liebster

“Want nothing but the best for your friends because when your friends are happy and successful, it’s probably going to be easier for you to be happy.” ― Roxane Gay

Let me I just say how the internet continues to amaze me with all that it gives.

Most of the time blogging feels as solitary as it is- you’re alone with your thoughts hoping someone is paying just enough attention to justify all your efforts and hard work. And then sometimes it feels so full of love because of the community that has been built around this budding concept that is ever growing and changing. So what am I beaming about?

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The wonderfully clever Selasi blogs about food, fashion, and natural hair care over at Kinks and Kale (how adorable is that name!). She nominated me for a 2016 Liebster Award and this blog post is my acceptance speech, in some manner of speaking. I had no idea what this was, but completely humbled and thankful for her application of my site. Then like the “research raptor” that I am (a term of endearment from a good friend), I found out a little more information about it.

The Liebster Award 2016 is an award that exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. – The Global Aussie

In short, it’s a way for new bloggers to get some recognition because let’s face it: blogging is hard and sometimes we all deserve a pat on the back. As with most accolades, some requirements need to be met and the Liebster is no different.

Liebster 2016 Award Rules (in a nutshell):

  • Post 11 random facts about yourself (optional)
  • Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog
  • Answer 11 questions asked by your nominator
  • Nominate 5-11 other bloggers and ask them 11 different questions
  • Let them know they have been nominated

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You can find the complete “rules” here as described by the Global Aussie. So lets get to it!

 

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I’m the oldest child.
  2. I have only ever lived in 2 states, but have moved over 10 times in my short 31 years.
  3. I’ve played violin since I was a child, although I haven’t picked it up in a while.
  4. I have two children, both girls.
  5. My personality type is ENFJ.
  6. I’ve only seen snow fall once in person.
  7. My favorite job was working as a stage technician for Universal Studios Orlando in my early 20s.
  8. I met my would-be husband at that same job.
  9. I’ve only read the Harry Potter series once.
  10. Although I’m not now, I was vegetarian more years of my life than not.
  11. Sometimes I dream of doing cosplay but don’t have the time or energy to tackle one more thing at the moment.

Whew. Are you still with me?

Currently, my favorite blog is: African Book Addict. 

Created by a Ghanian-American writer, Darkowaa reviews books written by authors of the African Diaspora. I love her blog. In short, she is doing exactly what I’m doing, only she has been doing it since 2014. If I was initially worried that a niche blog was a bad idea, she has completely proven me wrong. She brings intellect and honesty to her reviews, creating an air of friendship with the reader.

Her site is well organized and a comfort to browse. Categories and lists are some of my favorite things and she has both. I’m not even kidding, I’m gonna steal adopt some of her formats. (List updates to come!) Please check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.

Questions asked by my nominator, Kinks and Kale:

  1. Why did you start blogging? I habitually start a new blog when I want to divulge all my deepest, darkest secrets about a particular subject. This is probably the 5th blog I’ve started, and Black & Bookish is to bring awareness to literature written by black authors (African, African-American, Caribeian, Afro-Latinx, etc.). Mostly I wanted to be held accountable for this information so I made sure the internet knew about it.
  2. What is your favorite word? Circumlocution: “the use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive”. I’m a wiz at this now that I have kids. Plus, I love it the most in Young Adult novels when the character is explaining something they don’t really know about and you the reader do!
  3. Dogs or cats? Cats. But I’m allergic.
  4. If you had to lie, what job would you say you did? Writer.
  5. If you were cupid, and able to make anyone in the world fall in love with you, who would you choose? Just one? Kidding. Probably some dark haired boy with light eyes who is passionate about social justice. Maybe Mark Ruffalo. (But seriously, I love my husband. Wouldn’t trade him in for anyone.)
  6. What inspires/motivates you? I love to learn new things and show people that I can meet a challenge. I like doing things that are impressive.
  7. Describe yourself in one word? Opinionated. But I don’t find that to be a negative trait.
  8. Introvert or extrovert? Extremely extroverted. As I’ve grown older, I just let people know in advance.
  9. What is your favorite thing to eat? Baked beans cooked in the oven mixed with hot dogs (or sausage) and rice. No judgement.
  10. What is the best way to your heart? Deep conversation. No gimmicks, just coherent ideas on complex issues.
  11. Name one short-term goal you have set so far. Go into business for myself, and I’m working on it.

5-11 Blogger Nominees:

  1. Angst & Alliteration
  2. Recreant Daughter
  3. Ama Kuma
  4. The Book Feminist
  5. Under the Radar
  6. In Search of an Ideal
  7. Frazzled Fictions 
  8. iLLUMiNA Magazine

11 Questions for my Nominees: 

  1. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
  2. What’s the weirdest pet you’ve ever had?
  3. How many books do you read on average per year?
  4. How did you come about your blogging niche?
  5. What is something you know you’re “suppose” to like but you’re not really into?
  6. Where is the last place you traveled to and why?
  7. How do you like to wear your hair?
  8. Do you cook or bake?
  9. Do you enjoy swimming in the ocean or a pool?
  10. What you’re favorite phone app?
  11. Do you have a guilty pleasure tv show?

What a trip! This little exercise took more out of me than I thought it would. It was a bit of work but I love the idea of bloggers supporting other bloggers. Thank you for indulging me.

 

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Mychal Denzel Smith Finds the Intersection of Past and Present: A Review of Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching

“One of the most pernicious effects of racism on the psyche is the constant questioning of one’s worth and purpose. It can be almost as debilitating as death. Almost. I don’t wish to make these seem equivalent. I have my life; Travon does not.”

– Mychal Denzel Smith

Just Another Book

I don’t remember how I originally heard about Mychal Denzel Smith’s book. Maybe it was a tweet or Facebook post, which would make the most sense because I follow him on twitter and spend an exorbitant about of time on Facebook. Whatever it was, a tweet, the post, I immediately pre-ordered his book and then I forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I got a surprise! A package came and I was ready to devour it, but I didn’t. Like almost every book I have ever bought, I placed it on my shelf and forgot about it. Life was happening, and I was already deep into another book. I would get around to it, eventually. And then, all of a sudden I HAD to it read. Maybe I saw another tweet or post; maybe someone else was reading it. Whatever the case, it became an extension of me and was in my hands every chance I got.

Not Just Another Book At All

Mychal Denzel Smith is a writer for the Nation and frequent knowledge dropper on Twitter. Not much younger than me, his work includes writing about mental health, politics, and race. He even uses personal accounts to connect you, the reader, to an even bigger idea. As a true millennial (in a great way I think), he has made a name for himself on his terms, somehow using his anger as fuel and not dismissiveness.

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Smith’s debut book is a study of his personal growth into manhood and the larger ideas and philosophies that shaped those important moments in his life. He chronicles snapshots or turning points in his formal (schooling/college) education against the social constructs we learn just from spending time with those around us. Through his thoughtful mix of historical context and personal narrative, Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching felt like no book I had read before.

I Have Nothing But Praise To Give

Smith was able to accomplish in writing the way my brain seems to work. He would take the historical accounts of our collective culture and place those decisions onto his own body. He used well-researched examples (his thoughts on Respectability Politics floored me) and then followed their historical trail straight to him. It wasn’t a hypothetical of what would happen if we followed or ignored certain ideas. He was examining his beliefs based on concepts created, argued, and implemented without his consent.

“I began to see myself, but only by refusing to see black women.” – Mychal Denzel Smith

He introduced his reader to the relationship black men have to things labeled too taboo to acknowledge (black women, homosexuality, mental illness) and then he candidly talked about them. Those chapters where the most interesting to read because they are almost never mentioned as something we should question. He talked about why he felt that way, and could admit his faults on being human. I didn’t know I needed this or was even looking for it, but he carefully explained the paradigm of his own blackness.

A Bookshelf Necessity

This book was so personal I sometimes I felt like he wasn’t really talking to me, but to himself while recounted a moment from his past. It was like I was invading his privacy and asking too much of him. You could feel the anger in some passages, but rightfully so. You are being brought into his world, and anger is warranted. Nevertheless, this book is filled with a clarity we all seem to search for but have yet to find. I needed to read this book, and just like Smith, have a desire to read black literature and become a black leader. This book became a turning point in my own activism and quest for leadership.

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The night I finished reading Smith’s book, Alton Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, LA. The next night, Philando Castile in Minnesota. Their deaths hit me hard- probably because I had just finished experiencing Smith’s point of view. Castile’s death (and the manner in which he died) crushed my spirits and reduced me to a shell of a person for over a month. I could then completely understand how Travon Martin’s death changed Smith’s calling and pushed him onto this path of writing for social justice.

This is the type of book I wish I could buy an infinite number of copies and just hand them out on the street. It changed my life and clarified my writing call. This is a book I plan on reading again and again (something I never do) and I recommend everyone go out and experience Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching. Available on Amazon. You can also follow Smith on Twitter.