Thabiti Lewis is the author of Ballers of the New School: Race and Sports in America (Third World Press, 2010) and of the forthcoming edited book, Conversations with Toni Cade Bambara (University Press of Mississippi, Spring 2012)
Every time I talk or write about Toni Cade Bambara I laugh thinking about how a graduate school professor attempted to convince me her work was too narrow for a dissertation topic. Bambara would certainly have chuckled at his ignorance. Anyone who knows a little bit about her work is aware of how her work embraces many elements at one time. Indeed her vision is what literary critic Joyce A. Joyce once called “a panoramic” because she explores the full scope of Black life and culture in her fiction from history, feminism, and geology to blues, jazz, clairvoyance, spiritual renewal, religion, cinematography and physics. A Black Arts movement writer, her use of West African religions, and African and African American folk culture reflect African American literary scholars such as myself are interested in exploring: (1) how social, historical, and political conditions frame and have framed production; or (2) how African descended peoples in the United States and throughout the African Diaspora have produced texts.