Friday, May 8, 2015

ICYMI: This Week in Black Writing (5/1 - 5/7)

- Portia Owusu added a young scholar's perspective to the chorus of voices weighing in on Toni Morrison's new novel, God Help the Child, which debuted at #3 on NPR's Bestsellers List for hardcover fiction.

- HBW talked with Crystal Bradshaw, creative writer and HBW staff communications, about her historical fiction novel about the life of her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Eliza.

- Book Riot's Morgan Jenkins offers up some advice on how to write characters of color well.  (Tip #1: "Don't. Just kidding.")

- Mulling over famous figures who deserve a YA book treatment, Alison Peters highlights Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon's recent young adult book X: A Novel, which explores Malcolm X's childhood.

- Shonda Rhimes and Dee Rees are adapting Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (2010) for a limited-run series on FX.

- Over on The Root, this letter-writer wonders if their family really is related to famous slave-rebellion leader Nat Turner.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Meaghan Siekman provide a fascinating, detailed answer.

- Stacey Patton, a senior reporter with The Chronicle of Higher Education, writes about how faculty on dual appointments, who are often faculty of color in ethnic studies positions, face additional barriers to achieving tenure.

And more reading for #BaltimoreRising:

- "Beyond Hashtag Activism," by David A. Graham
- "Have They Died in Vain?" by Ray Haberski
- "Is It an 'Uprising' or a 'Riot'? Depends on Who's Watching," by Karen Grigsby Bates
- "Cops Charged in Freddie Gray's Death Receive Lower Bails than Teen Rioter," by Daniel Politi

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Project on the Future of Black Writing: Crystal Bradshaw

Crystal Bradshaw, aspiring author & HBW staffer
[by Meredith Wiggins]

Editor's Note: One of HBW's goals is to promote research and creative work by new generations of scholars and writers. To that end, the HBW Blog will begin featuring short profiles of young creative writers and scholars for a feature we've named the Project on the Future of Black Writing.  First up: KU sophomore Crystal Bradshaw, a creative writer and aspiring publisher who also heads up HBW Communications.

Crystal Bradshaw knew from the time she was in sixth grade that she wanted to be a writer.

Her sixth-grade teacher would read books aloud to Crystal's class, and Crystal never forgot the power of that.

"It just really amazed me because the way she'd read the stories just made me think, what if one day I wrote a book, and their teacher read the story to their students?" Crystal said.

A few years later, when she went looking for a story to tell, Crystal found one close to home: a few generations back on her family tree.

Monday, May 4, 2015

In Toni Morrison's Latest Novel, Black (Children's) Lives Matter

 [by Portia Owusu]

In her review of Toni Morrison’s eighth novel, Love, English writer Hilary Mantel asserts: “when Morrison writes at her best, you can feel the workings of history through her prose.” An accurate description, if ever there was one, for the novelist who is often described as the voice of America’s conscience.

For many, it is Morrison’s achievements in Beloved, the Pulitzer prize-winning novel that examines the impact of slavery as trauma affecting both individual and collective African-American identity, that make all labels of praise worthwhile and deserving. Of course, since Beloved, Morrison has written other novels (six, including the latest). All have been critically acclaimed and all have touched on different stages of American history and the role of black Americans within it.

In her latest work, God Help the Child, Morrison returns to both familiar and different terrains.

Friday, May 1, 2015

ICYMI: This Week in Black Writing (4/24 - 4/30)

- HBW kicked off the week by rounding up some of the best news stories in black writing from the past few months in a special We-Totally-Missed-It Edition of our weekly #ICYMI.

- Jerry Ward reviewed Toni Morrison's newest novel, God Help the Child, noting how one of the great pleasures of reading Morrison is how doing so allows readers "to construct one's own knowledge of how history revolves."

 - Reviews of God Help the Child have been all over the internet the past week; one of the best is Roxane Gay's evaluation for The Guardian. (It's a big week for Gay: her essay collection Bad Feminist was just chosen as the first-year Common Book at UCLA.)

 - An adaptation of Larry Duplechan's Blackbird will be the first movie available through the Urban Movie Channel, a streaming service created by BET founder Robert L. Johnson that's being touted as the "black Netflix."

- In black film news, Viola Davis will play Harriet Tubman in HBO's forthcoming biopic, and Wendell Pierce is slated to portray Clarence Thomas in HBO's Confirmation, about Thomas's 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

And finally, links to important context and response to #BaltimoreUprising:

- "In Baltimore, a Cry for Justice for Freddie Gray," by Ericka Blount Danois
- "The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray," by David A. Graham
- "Baltimore's Fire," by Jamelle Bouie
- "We Disagree with Any Implication that Freddie Gray Severed His Own Spinal Cord," by Adam Chandler
- "Baltimore and the State of American Cities," by Jelani Cobb
- "Nonviolence as Compliance," by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- "Thugs. Students. Rioters. Fans: Media's Subtle Racism in Unrest Coverage," by Akiba Solomon 
- A full transcript of President Obama's Tuesday remarks about Baltimore
- Code Switch collected the readings people are sharing in the wake of Freddie Gray's death; there are more on #twitterpoetryclub and #readingsforbmore.