30 of the Most Important Articles by People Of Color in 2016 | The Huffington Post

(photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Zeba Blay via huffingtonpost.com

Between the deaths of greats like Prince and Mohammed Ali, the destruction in Aleppo and the circus that was the U.S. presidential election, 2016 was the year of one awful thing after another.

But despite the awfulness, stellar writing by people of color provided clarity, comfort and insight in even the darkest moments this year.

For the second year in a row, we’ve curated a list of essays and articles that defined conversations about race, pop culture, politics and identity in 2016. They cover a wide array of topics, from reactions to the election of Donald Trump, to the huge role young black people play in internet culture, to the genius of James Baldwin. The criteria is simple: all pieces on this list were written by a person of color and published within the last year online.

As a look back, this year-end list is by no means fully comprehensive of all the stellar work written by writers of color in 2016. Feel there’s a glaring omission? Nominate your favorite pieces in the comments. In the meantime, check out these powerful, thought-provoking and entertaining reads from this year:

How Journalists Of Color Plan To Survive Trump’s America
Wilfred Chan, Fusion 
What will it mean to be a journalist in the age of Trump? How will journalists of color get through the next four years? Wilfred Chan writes about the “psychological tax” many journalists of color are forced to pay in order to do the work, and the ways in which continuing to write is not only a form of self-care but also a form of survival.

Black Life And Death In A Familiar America
Eve L. Ewing, Fader
Published in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, Ewing explores the deep racial divides in America by way of Chicago. Using the shooting death of Joshua Beal as a connective thread, Ewing deftly explores the correlations between black death in America and the so-called “rise” of hate.

I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again
Damon Young, Very Smart Brothas
For many black people in America, the election of Donald Trump felt like a rude awakening, a harsh reminder that the racist wounds of this country go far deeper than any of us wanted to admit to ourselves. The ever-brilliant Damon Young perfectly captured that feeling in this essay for Very Smart Brothas, where he bluntly explains how white supremacy works on a systemic level.

Mourning For Whiteness
Toni Morrison, The New Yorker
Toni Morrison breaks it all the way down in this post-election essay where she quite matter-of-factly calls out the reason that Donald Trump won the presidential election: the fear of losing white privilege. “So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength,”Morrison writes. “These people are not so much angry as terrified.”

What I Said When My White Friend Asked For My Black Opinion On White Privilege
Lori Lakin Hutcherson, The Huffington Post
The concept of “white privilege” is constantly debated, challenged, and questioned, particularly by white people. What is it? Is it even real? And what about “black privilege?” HuffPost contributor Lori Lakin Hutcherson shares her own candid views on the topic of white privilege, and the realities of being black in America today.

Interview With A Woman Who Recently Had An Abortion At 32 Weeks
Jia Tolentino, Jezebel
This brilliant conversation conducted by Jia Tolentino delivers a powerful glimpse into the mind and motivations of one woman after a recent late-term abortion. Thanks to mostly Republican legislators who use rhetoric that implies women who get late-term abortions are just flippantly changing their mind about pregnancy, late-term abortion continues to be widely misunderstood. In a year when there were a myriad of threats against reproductive rights in America, hearing one woman’s very personal story about a complicated pregnancy provides the kind of context we desperately need more of.

My Father’s House
Reggie Ugwu, Buzzfeed
After the death of his brother and the deteriorating health of his father, writer Reggie Ugwu made an important journey of discovery and self-reflection, returning to his ancestral home in Nigeria and helping to take care of his ailing father. Ugwu delves into the Igbo-American identity and experience, capturing the visceral feelings of obligation and grief. On his brother’s death he writes, powerfully: “In the weeks and months after Chidi died, still engulfed in darkness, I felt ready to die, too; by which I mean that losing the person I loved most in the world seemed equivalent to losing the world itself.”

What I Pledge Allegiance To 
Kiese Laymon, The Fader
In the year that Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, and Donald Trump threatened jail-time to flag burners, Kiese Laymon wrote about the concept of pledging allegiance to a country that he doesn’t feel is allegiant to him. One of the most powerful sentences: “I pledge to perpetually reckon with the possibility that there will never be any liberty, peace, and justice for all unless we accept that America, like Mississippi, is not clean.”

Now Is The Time To Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The New Yorker
Celebrated as much for her work as a novelist as she is for her work as an outspoken feminist and activist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie unsurprisingly had one of the best post-election responses this year. Her reaction: in the wake of Trump’s election, we must become even more determined to fight bigotry, rather than to bend in order to accommodate and coddle racist ideology. “Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism,” Adichie writes. “It allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility.”

To see complete list, go to: 30 Of The Most Important Articles By People Of Color In 2016 | The Huffington Post

Author Chimamanda Adichie, the New Face of Boots No. 7 Make-Up, Speaks on Black Hair and Redefining Beauty

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Photo: Boots)

article by  via nymag.com

We probably don’t deserve Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The author and feminist who inspired Beyoncé is now fighting America’s political battles, and man is she good at it.

But that’s not the only hat Adichie’s wearing as of late. She’s also the new face of Boots No. 7 makeup — a British drugstore retailer known for its cult serum that’s a best seller across the pond. (You can purchase the brand in the U.S. at Walgreens.)

The partnership between Boots and Adichie is a match that feels in sync. For years Adichie has been outspoken in asserting that feminism and makeup can co-exist, and the specific campaign she was tapped to lead for Boots hedges on the concept that cosmetics are more than tools to look pretty: They’re vessels to help a woman begin her day. The Cut talked to the author about her foray into the beauty business, the complex relationship she maintains with her hair, and the feminist lesson to be learned from the presidential election.

What frustrates you about the beauty industry? What gives you hope?

The beauty industry is more inclusive than it was ten years ago. There’s a slightly wider range of foundation shades, for example. What I find frustrating is that it should be even more inclusive. The definition of what is beautiful shouldn’t be so narrow. We should have different kinds of women — different body sizes, different shades of skin, and in a way that is consistent, not only occasional.

A note that struck a chord with me in your book Americanah is when Ifemelu, the novel’s protagonist, says, “Hair is the perfect metaphor for race in America.” What did you mean when you wrote that?

Hair is something we see, but we don’t understand what’s behind it, kind of like race. It’s the same way that something seems obvious, but it is really complicated and complex. For example, to see a middle-aged white woman who has highlights is not something everyone in the world necessarily understands, especially if it’s because she struggles to cover her grays. Or if you’re a black women, sometimes the way that your hair grows from your head isn’t considered “professional” by people who don’t know black hair. I don’t think it’s that people are malicious, I think it’s just some people don’t know what the hair that grows from the head of black women actually looks like.

To read full interview, go to: Chimamanda Adichie on Black Hair and Redefining Beauty

Academy Award-Winner Octavia Spencer Produce and Star in Madam C.J. Walker Biopic

Octavia Spencer (photo via

Octavia Spencer (photo via Simon & Schuster)

article by MaryAnn Yin via adweek.com

Zero Gravity Management has optioned A’Lelia Bundles’ 2001 nonfiction book, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker. Bundles is actually the great great granddaughter of Walker.

According to DeadlineOctavia Spencer intends to star and produce a limited series based on Bundles’ biography. Nicole Asher will write the script. Kasi Lemmons has agreed to serve as the director.

Here’s more from The New York Times: “Acutely aware of the lack of diversity in Hollywood on both sides of the camera, Ms. Spencer is determined to make a correction. She has begun optioning books, including one about Madam C. J. Walker, considered the first self-made African-American female millionaire.” (via Shadow and Act)

Author Paul Beatty Becomes 1st American to Win Man Booker Prize With ‘The Sellout’

Paul Beatty, who won the Man Booker Prize for “The Sellout,” a satire about race in America, at a ceremony Tuesday in London. (Credit: John Phillips/Getty Images)

article by Alexandra Alter via nytimes.com

Paul Beatty’s novel “The Sellout,” a blistering satire about race in America, won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, marking the first time an American writer has won the award.

The five Booker judges, who were unanimous in their decision, cited the novel’s inventive comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice.

With its outrageous premise and unabashed skewering of racial stereotypes, “The Sellout” is an audacious choice for the judges, who oversee one of the most prestigious awards in literature.

“The truth is rarely pretty, and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon,” Amanda Foreman, the head of the judging panel, said at a press briefing in London before the winner was announced. “It plunges into the heart of contemporary American society.”

At a ceremony in London, Mr. Beatty said that writing “The Sellout” had taken an emotional toll.

“It was a hard book for me to write; I know it’s hard to read,” he said. “I’m just trying to create space for myself. And hopefully that can create space for others.”

A raucous tragicomedy that explores the legacy of slavery and racial and economic inequality in America, the novel felt deeply resonant at a moment when police violence against African-Americans has incited protests around the country and forced Americans to confront the country’s history of racism.

In a review in The New York Times, Dwight Garner wrote that the novel’s first 100 pages read like “the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/business/media/paul-beatty-wins-man-booker-prize-with-the-sellout.html?_r=0

This Pioneering Comic Shop Owner Gets Her Own Marvel Cover | Colorlines

Colorlines Screenshot of (L to R) the variant “Invincible Iron Man #1” comic, feat. (L to R) RiRi Williams and Ariell Johnson; and a picture of Ariell Johnson, taken from Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse’s Instagram on October 25, 2016.

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Ariell Johnson, the founder of Philadelphia’s Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, is the only Black woman to own a comics shop on the East Coast.  Johnson opened Amalgam Comics to tremendous fanfare in January. Now, her important contributions to geek culture and entrepreneurship for women of color has been immortalized in the most appropriate way possible.

Johnson appears on a store-specific variant cover for Marvel’s “Invincible Iron Man #1,” enjoying a meal with another Black woman trailblazer: RiRi Williamsthe new Iron Man. The comic goes on sale next month, with this alternate cover being available only at Amalgam.

Johnson told ABC News that her colleague Randy Green spearheaded the project. “When the email went out about potential variants for stores, he was really excited and took it upon himself to work out the [details],” she said. “I knew what it was supposed to look like, but having the actual art in front of you is so much different. It’s really exciting.”

“When you are a person of color, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to find someone you can identify with. I always felt like I was watching other people’s adventures,” she said to ABC News. Had she not been introduced to X-Men character Storm, she said, “I might have grown out of my love for [comics].”

To read full article, go to: This Pioneering Comic Shop Owner Gets Her Own Marvel Cover | Colorlines

Purdue Librarian Jamilla R. Gabriel Starts Call Number, a Subscription Service for Black Literature

Jamillah R. Gabriel (photo via Purdue University)

Librarian Jamillah R. Gabriel (photo via Purdue University)

article via jbhe.com

Jamillah R. Gabriel, librarian at Purdue University’s Black Cultural Center, has launched a new start-up subscription box venture that each month will send a newly released book written by a Black author to subscribers of the service. Subscribers also will receive four or five book-themed items with their new book that mirror prominent themes in the featured book as well as catalog cards and spine labels. The Call Number service, scheduled to debut in November, will start at $35 per month. Gabriel told JBHE that “I have selected the first book but I’m keeping that under wraps at the moment.”

Gabriel states that “These days there is a subscription box service for just about anything: fitness products, beauty products, even razors. However, after reviewing many literary subscription box sites I realized there were no book subscription boxes that highlighted Black literature. The lack of diversity in the publishing industry also spurred my decision to test the waters of entrepreneurship in an endeavor that would promote diverse literature in an easily accessible way.”

To read more, go to: https://www.jbhe.com/2016/10/purdue-university-librarian-starting-a-subscription-box-service-for-black-literature/

NFL Star Jarvis Jenkins Sponsors Reading Center for Kids at International Barbershop in Harlem

jarvis jenkins a lil positivity

NY Jets player Jarvis Jenkins reads to children at International Barbershop on Malcolm X Boulevard (photo via bossip.com)

article via bossip.com

New York Jets player Jarvis Jenkins hung up his cleats to pick up a book in order to show a group of Harlem kids the importance of reading.

The defensive end was at the International Barbershop on Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City’s uptown neighborhood Sept. 27, where he read the children’s book “The Adventures of Captain Underpants,” to students from nearby Alain L. Locke Magnet School For Environmental Stewardship. The Clemson alumni also donated a mini library of children’s books to the shop.

“The main thing I want to do is tackle literacy,” the athlete turned reading advocate told BOSSIP. “There’s more to life than just Instagram. There’s more to life than just Facebook. I wanted to give them a platform where they can learn, and still have fun.”

Jenkins, who has been in the NFL for six years, said he wanted the kids to see that reading outside of school was fun, and that they should take advantage of their idle time waiting to get their hair cut by reading for pleasure.

“When I used to go to barbershops with my dad, I used to bring a toy,” Jenkins said. “I used to bring a Game Boy and sit there. When you’re sitting there with this free time, why not pick up a book?”

Nonprofit Barbershop Books helps kids – especially young boys – become more active readers by creating reading spaces inside local barbershops, said founder Alvin Irby.  “We’re increasing boys’ access to engaging books, and we’re increasing the amount of time boys are reading outside school,” Irby, who has his own children’s book Gross Greg coming out next month, said.

Following the read aloud, Jenkins also gave the kids a few life lessons, but not before lacing the budding readers with some Jets swag.  “It took my dad to stay on me to understand education is important,” the South Carolina native, 28, told the children. “You can go far in life, but make sure you get your education. Education is key.”

To read more, go to: http://bossip.com/1359074/a-lil-positivity-ny-jets-jarvis-jenkins-sponsors-reading-center-for-kids-at-harlem-barbershop/