All posts tagged: History

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

Sometimes I read a book and it moves me. This book stopped me in my tracks and gave me an unexpected pause.


Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word by Randall Kennedy (Book Review)

Congratulations on making it past the title of this post and into the review. That’s the first step, but I warn you, not the last time you will have to encounter the n-word. Nigger. There. I said it. But do you say it? Is it a part of your vocabulary? Do you embrace it as a phrase of respect for others, or disown it, a heavy word of the past? Or do you whisper it when you hear it in songs or read it in texts, speaking just loud enough for you to hear in your own head? Is it a verb or a noun? An adjective? (Take a moment and sit with these questions.) In 2002, I received a book as a Christmas gift from some friends at school. That book was Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word by Randall Kennedy. I can only imagine the horror my parents must have felt. What kind of friends did I have that would buy this? (They knew exactly what kind of friends- white friends.) At 17, I didn’t have the understanding …

“What Does Blackness Mean?” at the Getty (Event Review)

I am no stranger to panel discussions on race. Generally, the talks can center around race relations, cultural aspects, and history of the US. I even attended a lecture in college presented by Jabari Asim on his research in regards to using the N-word. I love lectures and panels, and I find discussions on culture and history fascinating. Over the weekend, I had a bookish afternoon and attended the panel discussion “What Does Blackness Mean?” at The Getty Center in Los Angeles. The panel consisted of Sarah E. Lewis, a Harvard professor of Art History; John Harvel, the author of The Story of Black; and Katrin Trautwein, the founder of a paint company called kt.COLOR. I was unfamiliar with their background and appreciative that each guest had a chance to introduce their work, not just their names. Katrin Trautwein’s company had recently created 12 shades of black paint by mixing various color densities and materials. John Harvel gave us a condensed version of his book, a historical look at how people interacted with the color black in …

Visiting the Vintage Paperback Collector’s Show and Sale (Event Review)

A couple of friends have been cheering me on as I get Black and Bookish off the ground, so when they heard about the 37th Annual Vintage Paperback Collector’s Show and Sale (what a mouthful!), they were eager to bring me along. All they knew is that there would be people selling old books, so that’s all I knew. 37th annual? How had I never heard of this? There was a moderate-sized crowd; people moved slowly from table to table to investigate the textures and titles. I wandered the floor for a bit, not really knowing what to look for. I didn’t have a plan going in- something I will try to avoid for future events. Most of the time, I followed around my friends like a little puppy. They were looking for very specific book editions and appeared much more put-together than I felt. I probably wasn’t noticed at all, but I felt like everyone knew I was an imposter. What did I know of vintage paperbacks? Nothing. I would pick up a book here or touch a shelf …