You Are Everything.

I’m super happy to share the arrival of my first ebook, You Are Everything: 10 Starter Stories!

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!

Click to see listing on Kobo.com

Juneteenth. And More Books.

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.

I’m not sure if #BlackoutBestsellerList was purposely aligned with Juneteenth 2020 (hope so), but what better motivator to drop some cash (in a Black owned bookstore if possible) on books by Black authors?

To that end, here’s what’s on my nightstand now:

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!)

Something I Must Say

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

I wrote the draft of this statement on practicing antiracism on a daily basis because, like anything else requiring discipline, it takes regular practice in order to get good at it

To my white and non-Black friends I say: DO YOUR WORK. You have a key role in this fight. Do not stand for anti-Blackness, racism, and white supremacy from others in your presence OR in your own mind.

These things CAN and shall be overcome. Not someday. Starting today.

From Winston-Salem Journal

Mood: Keep Me.

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.

Derek is an incredible singer, songwriter,  and musician. Check out the full album, Witness, as well as equally-inspiring Music Outside, where you may hear a familiar voice!

Click on the album to hear the tune.

Mood: Love’s In Need of Love Today.

Heard this twice today. Might need to hear it again before sleeping tonight.

(And is this not one of the best albums ever ever ever?)

Click on album to hear song

Birds.

Eastern Bluebird. Photo by Andy Morffew.

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

From the bedroom window

Child’s Pose.

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.

It’s hard to cry in this position, but you can try!

Mood: Black Gold.

On this dreary drizzly throwback-to-March day, Esperanza Spaulding helped pull me out of the work/politics/pandemic dumps with her reminder that I am “Black Gold Black Gold…youuu are…Black Gold!”

Click on album to hear “Black Gold”

(Plus she liked one of my Tweets a few years back, so I’m forever a fan!)

Nightstand Book Reviews.


In my determination to not ever be bored during this sheltering, the books keep a comin’. From my nightstand:

Read How Much the Heart Can Hold; Seven Stories on Love especially for Bernadine Evaristo’s (love HER!!) piece, which did not disappoint.

Bird Summons (Leila Aboulela) is a read-in-progress, a bit slow to get started but interesting enough.

Questlove’s knowledge of music and history is encyclopedic in Mo’ Meta Blues:The World According to Questlove.

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.

(Reviewed A Lucky Man here)

(Reviewed Real Life here. Still my favorite SIP read yet.)

Maisy Card’s These Ghosts Are Family has a fascinating premise but is weirdly constructed; still worth a quick read.

Happy reading!

Becoming.

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.