Category: Books

2018 American Book Awards Honor Cultural Diversity

This combination photo of book cover images shows “City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965,” by Kelly Lytle Hernandez, from left, “The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits,” by Tiya Miles and “South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s,” by Kellie Jones, which are among this year’s American Book Award winners for works reflecting the country’s diversity. (University of North Carolina Press, from left, The New Press and Duke University Press via AP)

via seattletimes.com

NEW YORK (AP) — Books on human caging, early Detroit and African-American culture in Los Angeles are among this year’s winners for works reflecting the country’s diversity.

The American Book Awards were announced Monday by the Before Columbus Foundation, founded in 1976 by author-poet Ishmael Reed.

Winners included Kelly Lytle Hernandez’s City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965 and Kellie JonesSouth of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970sTiya Miles was cited for her history The Dawn of Detroit.

Other recipients were Victor Lavalle for The Changeling: A Novel, Valeria Luiselli for Tell Me How It Ends, Tommy Pico for Nature Poem and Rena Priest for Patriarchy Blues.

Author-filmmaker Sequoyah Guess was given a lifetime achievement award. The poets-musicians Heroes are Gang Leaders were cited for oral literature and an Editor/Publisher Award was given to the late Charles F. Harris, who championed the works of Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni and other black writers.

Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/american-book-awards-honor-cultural-diversity/?

Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga to Star in Adaptation of Nella Larsen’s Harlem Renaissance Era Novel ‘Passing’

The Hollywood Reporter recently reported that Ruth Negga (“Loving”) and Tessa Thompson(“Sorry to Bother You”) will star in a film adaptation of Nella Larsen’s novel “Passing.”

Larsen’s novel explores the practice of passing as a race different from one’s own. “Passing” focuses on childhood friends, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry, who reconnect in adulthood. Kendry passes as White, but longs for connection with Redfield and her life in Harlem’s Black community. The friends’ obsession with one another pushes their lives together in ways that prove risky for both women.

The critical acclaim that “Passing” earned after its 1929 publication cemented Larson’s legacy among the most celebrated authors of the Harlem Renaissance.

Thompson, who is of Afro-Panamanian and Mexican descent, and Negga, the daughter of an Ethiopian man and Irish woman, will portray the pair at the center of the story. Rebecca Hall, a British actress of partial Black ancestry, will direct.

Source: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/tessa-thompson-ruth-negga-star-passing-adaptation

OPINION: Why I’m Here For the Badass Black Women of San Diego Comic-Con 2018

by Maeve Richardson

As GBN’s resident biracial, millennial nerd, I place a lot of importance on diversity at Comic Con and in the entertainment industry.

Pop culture has the power to influence how people see the world around them, and, thankfully, there are people in the entertainment industry who understand this and work to make content that showcases the positive aspects of diversity and uniqueness.

A prime example of this content is Steven Universe, an out-of-this-world show that isn’t afraid to show just how diverse this planet really is.

On the surface, Steven Universe is a cartoon about a boy trying to save the world. But on a deeper level it’s a show about love and friendship, and a show that teaches kids lessons about healthy relationships, anxiety, and how important it is to be true to yourself. Estelle, who plays Garnet (the fierce leader of the Crystal gems and fusion of LGBTQ+ couple Ruby and Sapphire), killed it at the Superheroes of Body Positivity Panel this Comic Con.

Estelle, along with the rest of the Crewniverse (people who work on Steven Universe) recently participated in Dove’s Self Esteem Project. Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe and Estelle joined Dove on the Panel to talk about body positivity and open up about their own experiences with body image. “My body works, it’s gorgeous. It gets me from point A to point B. If someone, doesn’t like my body, that’s too bad,” Estelle explained.

Another show featured at Comic-Con was Black Lightning, a badass superhero show that celebrates Black Americans. Series co-creator Mara Brock Akil took the stage to express that “celebrating our culture is important to remind us that we are also a part of the fabric of American culture. Tracking our history and our path is important.”

Amandla Stenberg (photo by Gage Skidmore)

Then there are the women of the Women Who Kick Ass Panel. Amandla Stenberg, who I’ve been a fan of since their portrayal of Rue in The Hunger Games, said “The topic of ‘strong female roles’ is tricky. There’s an awareness I have. I create representation because of the accessibility I have. When it comes to roles there is a give and take time. We continue to sacrifice in order to see the representation we want.” I will definitely be purchasing a ticket for their new movie The Darkest Minds.

And of course, there’s Regina King, who will be starring in HBO’s new Watchmen series. “There weren’t many like me kicking ass. I was a Lynda Carter fan. Even though Wonder Woman was wearing a skimpy outfit, she had ownership and confidence that exuded female strength,” Regina King explained about her own experiences with superheroes.

For me, cartoons and superheroes have shaped core aspects of my personality and morality, so it means a lot to me to see so many badass women of color involved in so many amazing projects share their experiences.

Octavia Spencer, LeBron James Limited Series About Madam C.J. Walker Lands at Netflix

Octavia Spencer/LeBron James (photo via variety.com)

by Debra Birnbaum via Variety.com

It’s official: Octavia Spencer and LeBron James’ limited series about entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker has landed at Netflix. The streaming outlet made the announcement at its Television Critics Assn. press tour session Sunday.

The project is executive produced by Spencer and James. Spencer will star in the eight-episode series, which is based on the book “On Our Own Ground” by A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, who will also serve as a consultant.

The series will recount the untold story of how Walker, a black hair care pioneer and mogul, overcame hostile turn-of-the-century America, epic rivalries, tumultuous marriages and some trifling family to become America’s first black, self-made female millionaire.

Walker, the daughter of slaves, was orphaned at age seven, married at 14, and widowed at 20. She spent two decades laboring as a washerwoman, earning $1.50 a week. Everything changed, though, following Walker’s discovery of a revolutionary hair care formula for black women. By the time she died in 1919, she had built a beauty empire from the ground up, amassing wealth unprecedented among black women.

“Black Nativity” directory Kasi Lemmons will direct the pilot and also executive produce, and Nicole Asher will write. Janine Sherman Barrois and Elle Johnson will also serve as executive producers, along with SpringHill’s Maverick Carter, and Zero Gravity’s Mark Holder and Christine Holder.

The Holders optioned the book from Bundles in early 2016, and Spencer pursued the part aggressively once she learned of it. With the Oscar winner attached, William Morris Endeavor Agency pitched the series to James as his production company’s entryway into prestige TV.

“It’s so exciting for all of us to keep building SpringHill, see it mature, and continue to find its voice. We are really focused on growing with authenticity and substance,” Carter said. “For us, this is totally about great stories and great partners. Partnering with Octavia to tell the story of Madam C.J. Walker is the ideal first project for SpringHill to take an important step into scripted drama.”

Source: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/octavia-spencer-lebron-james-madam-cj-walker-netflix-limited-series-1202889368/

University of Pennsylvania Professor Ebony Elizabeth Thomas Offers List of Children’s Books That Accurately Depict Slavery

U Penn Prof. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (photo via penntoday.upenn.edu)

by Greg Johnson via penntoday.upenn.edu

Children in the U.S. are often introduced to America’s troubled and cruel history through movies, television programs, and children’s books. Historical fiction is frequently the means by which children learn about atrocities such as the enslavement of African Americans, racial segregation, Japanese-American internment, and the genocide of Native Americans.

Discourse about these topics in children’s literature can be difficult in light of the books’ overall function to inspire, transmit values, and spark young minds. But an omission or inaccurate portrayal of the crimes and suffering can do lasting societal damage to readers and how they see the world.

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education, has for the past decade been exploring representations of slavery in children’s literature. Over the last six years, she and her research team have compiled a database of 160 children’s books covering slavery that were published between 1970 and 2015—almost half of all the children’s books on slavery published in the 35-year period, many of which are no longer in print.

An expert on children’s literature and the teaching of African-American literature, history, and culture in K-12 classrooms, Thomas says parents, teachers, and educators must consider questions of readership, ethnicity, class, gender, story, background, intended audience, and difficulty when selecting books for their students.

Thomas supports the criteria put forth by scholar Rudine Sims Bishop that children’s literature about slavery should, in part, celebrate the strengths of the black family as a cultural institution and vehicle for survival, and bear witness to African Americans’ determined struggle for freedom, equality, and dignity.

A page from Ashley Bryan’s “Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life.”

Ashley Bryan’s “Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life” is a book Thomas points to as one that successfully gives an accurate depiction of slavery, humanizing African Americans held in bondage while also conveying the truth and difficulty of slave life.

“I recommend this book. What you’re getting here is 11 slaves’ lives and dreams that are being brought to life by this author,” she says. “[Bryan] is representing their complexity in the illustrations, his writing of the poetry. I highly recommend this because it balances humanizing enslaved African Americans, but he’s also showing the complexity of their lives.”

On top of her 160-book database on slavery in children’s literature, Thomas is conducting reader response surveys in Philadelphia public schools, and has published two articles on representations of slavery in children’s books.

Thomas also praises “Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom” by Shane W. Evans; “All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom” by Angela Johnson; “Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown” by Sally M. Walker; “Almost to Freedom” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; “The People Could Fly: The Picture Book” by Virginia Hamilton; and “Love Twelve Miles Long” by Glenda Armand.

Additionally, she is working on a book about slavery in children’s literature tentatively titled “Reading Racial History,” and she serves on the advisory board of Teaching Tolerance’s Teaching Hard History project.

Thomas says children’s literature is a prime site for social reproduction, and an unexamined site of social progress, regress, and/or transformation.

“If you have children’s media that’s regressive, and the children of today are going to be the adults of the mid-to-late 21st century, if we don’t change the children’s media that they’re being fed by, just like we still remember and talk about ‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and other fictions of the long-ago Victorian and Edwardian eras, they’re going to still be influenced by these current writings—from ‘Harry Potter’ to problematic books about slavery—deep into the 22nd century.”

Read more: https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/representing-slavery-childrens-literature

Missing Writings from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, Long a Mystery, are Sold to Schomburg Center in NY

Malcolm X in 1964. (Credit: Associated Press)

by Jennifer Schuessler via nytimes.com

For a quarter century, they have been the stuff of myth among scholars: three missing chapters from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” reputedly cut from the manuscript after his assassination in 1965 because they were deemed too incendiary.

Their possible existence was first teased at in 1992, when a private collector at an estate sale scooped up material belonging to Alex Haley, Malcolm X’s collaborator on the book. Years later, one biographer was allowed a 15-minute look at some of the papers, but otherwise they have been mostly locked away, surrounded by a haze of cultivated mystery.

But now the unpublished material, or at least some of it, has suddenly emerged and was offered for sale Thursday at a Manhattan auction house, along with another artifact that scholars have never seen: the manuscript for the published book, which bears dense traces of Mr. Haley’s and Malcolm X’s complex negotiations over the finished text.

At the auction, an unpublished chapter called “The Negro” was picked up by the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for $7,000. There were no offers on the manuscript for the published version, which had an opening minimum bid of $40,000.

But after some hushed conversations in side rooms, it was announced that the Schomburg — located on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem, and already home to a large collection of material that had been held by Malcolm X’s family — had acquired the manuscript for an undisclosed sum, along with nearly a dozen unpublished fragments that had also gone unsold.

“‘The Autobiography’ is one of the most important books of the 20th century,” Kevin Young, the director of the Schomburg, said after the auction. “To have the version with Malcolm X’s corrections, and to be able to see his thoughts taking shape, is incredibly powerful.”

The manuscripts were included in a sale of African-American historical artifacts by Guernsey’s auction house. The sale also included an item that had attracted considerable media interest in recent years: a Detroit house associated with Rosa Parks that had been bought by an artist, disassembled and shipped to Germany, then shipped back again for sale. (The house, which had a minimum price of $1 million, received no bids.)

But it was the appearance, with little advance fanfare, of the Malcolm X material that caused a stir among scholars, some of whom expressed alarm before the auction that manuscripts that had been locked away by one private collector might disappear into the hands of another.

The manuscript and unpublished pages were sold to settle debts as part of a bankruptcy case. (Credit: Jeenah Moon for The New York Times)

Komozi Woodard, a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College who is writing a book about the final year of Malcolm X’s life, said he was “shocked” when he learned about the auction earlier this week. “If we’re trying to figure out where Malcolm would have taken us, some of those papers have clues to that puzzle,” he said.

Since Malcolm X’s assassination there have been battles over the meaning of his life, in particular its tumultuous last year, when he broke with the Nation of Islam, traveled to the Middle East and renounced his philosophy of racial separatism.

There have been equally fierce battles over his literary remains. Papers removed from his family’s home by one of his daughters and later seized by owners of a storage facility were nearly auctioned in 2002, before scholars and family members organized an effort to have the collection placed intact at the Schomburg Center.

Marvel to Launch ‘Black Panther’ Comic Book Series Spinoff ‘Shuri’ in October

(Image via hollywoodreporter.com)

by Graeme Sullivan via hollywoodreporter.com

Marvel Entertainment is preparing to launch a new comic book series centered around T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, months after the character stole the show in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther movie.

As revealed at Bustle, the new series — to be called, simply, Shuri — will be written by award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor, who penned the digital comic series Black Panther: Long Live the King for Marvel, with art by Hawkeye artist Leonardo Romero.

“[Shuri is] an African young woman of genius level intelligence who is obsessed with technology and has traveled spiritually so far into the past that she’s seen Wakanda before it was Wakanda. The Ancestors call her Ancient Future. And she’s super ambitious. What do I love about her? Alllll that and more,” Okorafor is quoted as saying.

The series will fit into the continuity of Ta-Nehisi CoatesBlack Panther comic book series, where T’Challa has moved into space to explore the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, leaving the actual nation without a leader…which means that Shuri, as the next in line to the throne, has to step up as monarch, whether or not she likes it.

The series will launch in October.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/shuri-comic-book-will-spinoff-black-panther-1127689

Dr. Rene Shingles 1st African American Woman Inducted into National Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame

Rene Shingles (Photo Courtesy of National Athletic Trainers’ Association)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Dr. René Revis Shingles made history this month when she became the first African American Woman inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association prestigious Hall of Fame – an honor that to date has been bestowed on only 317 of the association’s 45,000 members. Dr. Shingles – a long-time professor at Central Michigan University – became one of the first African American women to become certified as an athletic trainer in 1987.  The Hall of Fame is the highest honor an athletic trainer can receive and recognizes individuals who exemplify the mission of NATA through significant lasting contributions that enhance the quality of health care provided by athletic trainers.

“While I may be the first, my goal is to ensure that I am not the last. Being an athletic trainer is about providing the highest quality of care to our patients and a tireless dedication to learning, growing and serving. That is what has been bestowed to me by my mentors, and what I hope to continue to contribute to the generations that follow,” said Shingles.

At Central Michigan University, more than 650 students have graduated under her Shingle’s tutelage. She co-authored the first book on cultural competence in athletic training and is considered a national expert on diversity and inclusion in the profession. In 1987, Shingles became the thirteenth African American woman to become a certified athletic trainer. Over the years, she has volunteered in numerous capacities with NATA, the Board of Certification for athletic training and the NATA Research & Education Foundation. For more than 20 years, Shingles has volunteered on the medical staff for the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games. In 1996, she was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as an athletic trainer for the Olympic Games in Atlanta and marched in the opening ceremonies with Team USA.

Shingles is also a founding member of the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), established in 1991 as an advisory committee to the NATA board of directors, to identify and address issues relevant to the ethnically diverse populations as well as members of the profession. Shingles currently serves as a mentor both professional and personally to advance the next generation of athletic trainers. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

“We champion the outstanding contributions Dr. Shingles has made – and continues to make – to the profession of athletic training, as well as her commitment and passion for the profession,” says NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. “The NATA Hall of Fame recognizes the best among the best in our profession, and Dr. Shingles is truly deserving of this award,” said Lindley.

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 45,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.

FEATURE: Aaron Maybin, NFL Linebacker Turned Art Teacher and Activist, Gives Back to Kids in Baltimore

Maybin, talks to students at “Gallery Night,” an end of year art showcase at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School. (MARY F. CALVERT FOR ESPN)

via theundefeated.com

Aaron Maybin was an All-America linebacker at Penn State University and was drafted 11th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2009. He played four seasons in the NFL for the Bills and New York Jets before retiring in 2014. He has since turned full-time to his art, chronicling his hometown’s challenges with poverty and crime through painting, photography and poetry, and he works as a teacher in Baltimore schools. Last winter, he became the outspoken face of outrage after many of Baltimore schools went without heat during extreme cold. He was written a book, Art Activism, which chronicles Maybin’s journey.

Here, as told to ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg, Maybin tells about his path from a life of football to working on behalf of kids from his neighborhood, how he connects with students and why he doesn’t see himself as a hero.


When I was younger, football gave me an identity.

Growing up in communities like the one I grew up in, West Baltimore, you’re always fighting for your identity. From the time you’re born until you’re grown, you’re literally inundated with stories of how your safety is always in jeopardy and how everybody – from your parents to people in the community to folks at your church – is just so hell-bent and focused on keeping you safe.

So many of us in those neighborhoods are so angry, so furious, at everything. At the world. I lost my mother at 6 years old. I was mad at God. I was mad at my family. I was mad at everything. In those kinds of environments, especially for young kids of color, people look to attach themselves to something greater.

I had been an artist my whole life, but when I was younger, it was not cool for you to just be like, “Yeah I’m an artist. I make things.” Football was the first thing I did and I excelled at to the level where I gained acceptance and admiration from everybody that saw me do my thing. It was like an outlet.

Football was the first space that I was afforded where you’re not penalized for your anger. You’re celebrated for it. You knock somebody out of a game and people give you praise. They know you as this guy not to be messed with, to be respected and celebrated.

It wasn’t until I got older that I didn’t want my identity to be tied to a game anymore.

I can look at football now with a certain amount of nostalgia and not be too heavily tied to it, because at the end of the day, I stopped being tied to the game.

It was probably around college at Penn State that I realized there’s something wrong with how we were being conditioned as athletes. Even as great a coach as Joe Paterno was, he had some deep-seated issues that were rooted in race and patriarchy and bigotry that reared their heads in how we were handled as players and as men.

The idea that we couldn’t have facial hair, for example. If it was past like a five o’clock shadow, then you would get penalized. If you had locks or an Afro or something like that, he would be like, “You’ve got to do something with that.” Guys would get it braided or twisted, but as soon as he would see it, he would be like, “Cut it.” If you look at people like myself, LaVar Arrington, Jared Odrick, NaVorro Bowman, basically every black player who went to Penn State, you see them leave and go through an almost Rastafarian physical transformation where we all grow our beards out. We all either get our hair in locks or twists or cornrows.

College years are very pivotal years, right? Throughout the same time that you’re just starting to learn about your blackness or where you fit in the larger society, you’re starting to learn about historical context of your roots. You have somebody who you look at and revere as your leader who tells you that there’s something wrong with you. That there’s something unacceptable about the natural things that make you who you are, that there’s something wrong with your person.

I didn’t realize how problematic it was back then. I was young. I didn’t really understand how deep those things went and where they were coming from. I just knew that those were the guidelines that I had to abide by. We’ve got to ask ourselves why a lot more.

Continue reading “FEATURE: Aaron Maybin, NFL Linebacker Turned Art Teacher and Activist, Gives Back to Kids in Baltimore”

Duke University Instructor Jaki Shelton Green Becomes 1st African American Woman to be Named North Carolina’s Poet Laureate

Jaki Shelton Green (photo via Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University)

via jbhe.com

Jaki Shelton Green, an instructor at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, was named the ninth poet laureate of the state of North Carolina. She is the third woman and the first African American to hold the position.

In making the announcement of Green’s appointment, North Carolina Governor Roy Copper said that “Jaki Shelton Green brings a deep appreciation of our state’s diverse communities to her role as an ambassador of North Carolina literature. Jaki’s appointment is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary history.”

In 2014, Green was inducted into the state’s Literary Hall of Fame and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2009, she served as the North Carolina Piedmont Laureate. In 2016, Green served as the writer-in-Residence at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina.

Green has penned eight books of poetry, co-edited two poetry anthologies, and written one play. Her poetry collections include Dead on Arrival (Carolina Wren Press, 1983) and Breath of the Song (Carolina Wren Press, 2005).

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/the-first-african-american-poet-laureate-of-the-state-of-north-carolina/

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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