Category: Books and Writers

Toni Morrison had enduring friendships with Angela Davis and Fran Lebowitz. That’s range.

Angela Davis on Toni Morrison: “I have always been impressed by her ability to be so focused and to inhabit the universe of her writing while not neglecting the universe that involves the rest of us.”

Fran Lebowitz on Toni Morrison: “People who aren’t in a constant state of fury aren’t paying attention. But Toni was paying attention. She was simply above it rather than swamped by it. I don’t know how you do this, because I cannot do this. People use the word compassionate a lot, and I don’t know many people who really are. Toni was. And forgiving. She was forgiving.”

In honor of Lucille Clifton’s birthday

won’t you celebrate with me 

By Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

Clouds

I spend a lot of time looking at clouds. They’re beautiful and captivating. Their shapes, colors, and textures offer a universe of gorgeous possibilities. A cloud is a cloud is a cloud. Unless it’s a mermaid or an ice cream cone or whatever else comes to mind. Clouds tease and spark the imagination. They can be whatever someone wants them to be.

Gwendolyn Brooks’ reflection on clouds. Ebony magazine, 1968.
Source: Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

NASA describes a cloud as “a mass of water drops or ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere.” Clouds also provide a celestial guide for interpreting our experiences. Situations can be like the images we see in clouds, not necessarily what they seem. A cloud can look like a dog with a stick in its mouth one second and the shape of Tennessee the next. A sure thing can transform into something unexpected in a matter of minutes. Change happens. Looking to the sky can help put things in perspective.

Links For The Voracious

So be curious, be adventurous, be tenacious, and you cannot be intimidated by the answer “no.”

-Bevy Smith

A group of gay activists reflect on their revolutionary 1970 road trip to rally gay people to attend the Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention in Washington, D.C. organized by the Black Panther Party.

“Then I felt around, and I realized there was no teeth and I had felt, really, no great pain,” he said. “And then I realized, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth. I’m in a whale’s mouth, and he’s trying to swallow me.” -Lobster diver Michael Packard describes being swallowed by a humpback whale off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts

A Brutally Honest History of Latinos in Hollywood.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the influence and impact of Black athletes on racial equality.

We Need Diverse Books is no longer using the term “#OwnVoices.” Here’s why.

Do you want to hear from Black design and technology experts? The Tech Wrap Queen is the podcast for you.

Summer salad season is here.

5 Songs For The End of The Week

Source: Verzuz TV

In this special edition of 5 Songs, it’s a celebration of the birthdays of Patti LaBelle (May 25) and Gladys Knight (May 28). The two living legends have a combined 120 plus years of experience in show business. They are standard bearers of the unmatched skill and discipline Black performers brought to the stage across musical genres that shaped the last 60 years of American popular music. 

The first iteration of Gladys Knight and the Pips started when Gladys Knight was eight years old. Patti LaBelle made her Apollo Theater debut with The Blue Belles in 1962 at the age of 18.

“Music is my life. That’s what I do, not for a living, but for a life.”

-Patti LaBelle

“Soul music is really in essence music that touches the inner spirit, that core.”

-Gladys Knight

Links For The Voracious

NPR’s Audie Cornish breaks down getting over imposter syndrome and knowing when to stop and take care of yourself.

Photographer Tommy Kha on making the work you want to create and not succumbing to the limits of other people’s imaginations.

What Black critics have to say is essential for expanding our understanding of the arts.

“People tend to forget that words are scripture. Life and death lies in the tongue, and I wanted to create something that could uplift.” Costume director Marci Rodgers describing the inspiration for writing her children’s book “MaJaRa’s Dream” during the chaos and pain of 2020.

Everybody loves The Linda Lindas and they just signed a record deal with Epitaph Records. Congratulations, Lindas! 👍🏿 Check out the band at the Los Angeles Public Library TEENtastic Tuesdays: AAPI Heritage Month Kick-off.

5 Songs For The End of The Week

The one and only Grace Beverly Jones celebrated her birthday on Thursday, May 19. She shares that birthdate with Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, and Yuri Kochiyama. May 19 looks to be an auspicious day to bring people into the world who will grow up to be brave.

Ms. Jones’ singular body of self-expression is guided by a relentless creative spirit that doesn’t recognize the confines of the status quo. Her music can’t be tied to one specific genre. She is punk and disco and rock and soul and new wave and reggae and art song all in one astounding package beyond characterization. 

Here are five songs by Grace Jones and the singer’s thoughts on life in her own words.

“One creates oneself.”

“If you are lonely when you are alone, you’re in bad company.”

“I am a child. I think we’re all still children. Always stay an amateur, never a professional.”

“In a room full of people, want yourself first.”

“I only move forward, never backwards, darling.”

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.