As a writer, I was curious about flash fiction, stories of 1000 words, more or less. The vignettes in You Are Everything are each exactly 500 words. The collection is a tribute to the everyday lives of Black folk–our peace, beauty, and humor. We need these reminders and reinforcements from time to time. Like, uh, now.
Because the text is so brief, I decided I’d test out an ebook format. I hired Fiverr gig talent to copyedit, design the cover (inspired by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam), and format the ebook. Local talent (and friends) helped with comments and proofreading.
You Are Everything is available at Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Or PayPal me $5 and I’ll send it to you to download (.epub, .mobi, or .pdf formats). Check it out! And thanks for your support!
Today’s Juneteenth celebration carries more weight and meaning than it ever has for me. I haven’t paid much attention to it over the years, thinking of it as a holiday for Black Texans and their descendants. (Yay for them but I’m 100% North Cack comin and goin!) So I’m glad to see it receiving its just due this year as a true recognition of freedom in the U.S.
Trouble the Water (Melvin Dixon): A professor returns to his childhood home in rural North Carolina after the passing of his grandmother–with a twist! While the plot was fine, I loved loved loved how the Pee Dee River and the woods surrounding it were characters unto themselves.
A Taste of Honey (Kai Ashante Wilson): A queer love story set in a beautiful and wealthy past African kingdom. While I don’t read much speculative fiction, I did enjoy having my imagination stretched in this way. And following a femmy sometimes-imperious not-quite-royal was also a hoot.
The Grace of Silence (Michele Norris): I have had the pleasure of working on a project with the author; just listening to her speak (she’s a former host of NPR’s All Things Considered) is an auditory delight. I heard her voice all throughout this memoir, which uncovered the pain and shame of two family secrets. I wonder what Michele thinks of Aunt Jemima’s long overdue retirement, given that Michele’s grandmother played Aunt Jemima character in a marketing ploy for midwestern housewives.
Housegirl: A Novel (Michael Donkor): Haven’t read it yet, but the class clash and transnational mashup looks super interesting!
Check ’em out! And don’t forget to support Black authors! (More on that soon!)
After the devastating murders of Ahmaud, Breona, and George, along with the threatening of Chris in quick succession, I was utterly floored. Steamrolled.
But now I feel a budding hope, however cautious, that maybe something new is birthing: a new awareness, a new standard, a new paradigm
I never thought #BlackLivesMatter would go mainstream as it has, uttered from white corporate mouths with any level of sincerity
I never thought that #DefundThePolice would gain any ground, as cries and evidence of antiBlack police brutality have existed for years
I was long skeptical of white willingness to uproot symbols of the Confederacy in the public realm
I am pleased by these latest body blows against racism and white supremacy, a seven century old scourge that really makes no logical sense but is so deeply engrained it seems natural
White supremacy = the belief that whiteness is normal, standard, good, better than, safe, civilized, rational, etc.
Black folks are caught in it too, expressed through colorism, negative body image, low standards and expectations of other Black folks, “white man’s ice” syndrome, and yes, use of the N-word, however pronounced
[A tangent: Years ago I decided to never make or validate broad negative generalizations about Black folk, which is yet another vestige of white supremacy
Instead I seek to love and embrace us a broadly as possible, understanding that I don’t have to like every individual’s every action, but as a whole I LOVE US]
I am not so naive as to think that this window of opportunity will be open forever. We have learned that backlash always follows progress, so let’s maximize this moment
One of the things that I do to get centered is listen to Keep Me, a gorgeous tune from my gorgeous friend, Derek Lassiter. Every time, I breathe deeply and savor the mood and message of this beautiful song.
The sheltering slowdown & our thicket-facing back deck allow for splendid bird watching
We’re fortunate to live in their neighborhood, awakening to insistent chirpsong & witnessing their busy business the whole day through
Inhaling heavily-perfumed humidity, we blow good luck kisses to swooping bright cardinals, our reincarnated family reassuring us in these trying times
We note nesting robins & stacatto-necked sparrows tall athletic bluejays & black speckled woodpeckers groundhopping wren & sultry-throated mockingbirds
We crane in ominous wonder to see soaring high high a wide-winged bird of prey (I couldn’t tell what) riding the low sky currents
Wild beings they remain, not as our entertainment but a graceful reminder to our comparatively bumbling selves that we too are in an ecosystem bigger than the latest videconference & we say thank you avians, Amen
One of the good things about Balsana is that you can essentially lie despondent on the floor in near-fetal position while also increasing flexibility and restoring your mind after the seemingly never-ending barrage of racial injustices witnessed during this past week.
Malaika Wa Azania’s Memoirs of a Born Free is a letter to the ANC about their post-apartheid failures to fulfill the promises of a new South Africa. Maybe too many day-to-day details of her life and not enough analysis?
I Can’t Date Jesus (Michael Arcenaux) is a bit too pop culture (sorry Beyh1ve) and bitchy for me, but I needed to read something smart, Black, and queer.
There are only two people I’d probably burst into tears upon meeting: Sade and Michelle Obama. Yesterday while watching Becoming, the wonderful Netflix documentary set against the backdrop of MO’s 2018-19 book tour, it was hard to keep the tears back (and I have chronically dry eyes, y’all). I so admire her poise, integrity, courage, intelligence, and outright flava. Watching her grace in action also made me deeply sad for how low this nation has fallen from the high mark of the 2008 election and POTUS 44.
As dessert, I followed up with a few of my other favorite FLOTUS videos, here, here, and here. And this one of her hubby always gets me too.