Links For The Voracious

Meet Doña Viviana Alávez, the undaunted doyenne of candlemakers preserving Zapotec tradition in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“City of Ghosts” is a love letter to Los Angeles that will probably make you cry. The animated Netflix kids show uses the city’s neighborhoods as the foundation for a beautiful rumination on memory and loss.

Listen to author Rachel Howzell Hall on the Crime Writers of Color podcast. She’s talking about her new book “And Now She’s Gone,” how meeting young Black writers helped her see that all kinds of Black stories were viable, and the writing life.

Daydreaming about life after the pandemic can help us get through it. 

People are curious creatures who seek connection. 

Learning a new skill can be a frustrating and enlightening experience. Lean into the messiness to grow into competence. 

“The pureness of YInMn Blue is really perfect.” That’s art supply manufacturer Georg Kremer on the first new blue pigment on the market in 200 years. 

The Last Time

There are so many days this year that are the anniversaries of the last time we did something in 2020.

These pictures were taken on March 6, 2020, at the Oakland Museum of California on my last visit to a museum. The Bay Area shelter in place order took effect eleven days later.

Ruth Asawa. Untitled, 1959.

Philip Lindsay Mason. Family Scape.

Dorothea Lange. Gas station. Kern County, California. 1938.

Carmen Lomas Garza. Felino’s Breakdancers, 1988.

Richard Diebenkorn. Figure on a Porch, 1959.

5 Songs For The End of The Week

Grand Dame Queenie. Amy Sherald, 2012.

Smooth as silk. Sweet like honey. Made for the moonlight. Brighter than sunshine. There is no voice like Ms. Dionne Warwick’s. If you haven’t already dipped into her catalogue of hits, it’s time to get into it. Here are five of my favorites for the end of the week.

Congressman John Lewis was a joyful warrior. In celebration of his birthday, here is the essay he wrote to be published on the day of his funeral. Every word of this essay is worth reading. It is a call to action and a reminder that even in times of great despair there is hope.

“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”

-John Lewis

Thinking of Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

-Audre Lorde

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence.”

-Toni Morrison

Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison gave us so much. Their words wind through hearts and minds giving solace and stoking imagination. With exquisite precision and unyielding brilliance, they crafted hearty vocabularies capable of holding and expressing the universalism of their own experiences. What Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison wrote were truths Black women and Black people knew in their bones, but rarely saw in print. They eviscerated the intellectual and moral smallness of the American cultural imagination that relegated Blackness and specifically Black women to the margins.

We have been blessed by their inextinguishable light. Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison’s words are talismans, full of magic and protection. They hold up our wholeness in the face of a system designed to smash every facet of our humanity. To be Black in America is to be too much and never enough. To be Black in the words of Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison is to be complete in the complexity of ourselves, and that has always been enough.

Nina Simone “Feeling Good”