Friday, July 29, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (7/23-7/29)

Writer James Alan McPherson, the first African American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, passed away at the age of 72. In his career, McPherson was also awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was named a MacArthur Fellow.

Diane Patrick of Publisher's Weekly looked into Colson Whitehead's upcoming novel The Underground Railroad, to be released in September, 2016.

The Guardian published the Man Booker Prize longlist for 2016. June Eric Udorie spoke about how the longlist was a disappointment for diversity. 

Dr. Howard Rambsy recently wrote on African and African American tensions in his review of Yaa Gyasi's debut novel Homegoing. Fulbright scholar Portia Owusu responded with her own review of Homegoing.

Novelist and poet Chris Abani spoke about his work and about how the middle-class view of Africa is problematic. 

Check out these amazing works of art by Camilla Perkins. Recognizing the under-representation of African subcultures in illustrations, Perkins began creating her own in an effort to illuminate the many beautiful facets of African culture.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Homegoing – A Tale of One Tree and its Many Branches

Editor's note: Recently, Dr. Howard Rambsy of Southern Illinois University provided an insightful review of Yaa Gyasi's debut novel Homegoing. This week we bring you another review of Homegoing from Portia Owusu, a doctoral student and Fulbright fellow from SOAS, University of London.

“This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others….But now we come upon the problem of conflicting stories…we believe the one who has the power. He is the one who get to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that you must find that story too. From there you begin to get a clearer picture, yet still imperfect, picture” (Gyasi 226).

These are the words of Yaw, a history teacher in Yaa Gyasi’s brilliant debut novel, Homegoing, as he addresses his students embarking on the study of history in colonial Gold Coast (modern day Ghana). Appearing almost at the end of the book, his words resemble the entire premise of Homegoing and perhaps Gyasi’s project as a Ghanaian-American writer confronting the subject of slavery as a shared history between Ghanaians and African-Americans. Indeed, the uncertainty of history – or is it its unknowability? –is under the microscope throughout this novel. The novel begins with the story of Effia in 1700s Fanteland, the coastal area of Ghana that today is dotted with numerous and immovable forts and castles that once housed human flesh awaiting forced deportation to the New World. Effia’s story is a universal one: of love, the growing pains of teenage years, and marital drama among family members who cannot always agree on whom or what one chooses to love. Relating to the latter, we learn of the close relationship between Effia and her father, Cobbe Otchere, and contrastingly her tumultuous relationship with Baaba, a woman that we believe is her mother.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

African and African American Tensions

In a recent review of Yaa Gyasi's novel Homegoing in The New York Times, Isabel Wilkerson gives voice to the sometimes whispered tensions between Africans and African Americans.

While Wilkerson offers many praises of the book, she also notes that Gyasi more impressively presents West Africans than she does African Americans. "In the first, magical half of the novel," writes Wilkerson, "Gyasi walks assuredly through the terrain of Alex Haley, Solomon ­Northup and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her intimate rendering of the human heart battered by the forces of conquest and history." However, "the spell breaks," explains Wilkerson, as Gyasi depicts present-day African Americans.

According to Wilkerson, "More disappointingly, the lyricism and depth of the scenes in West Africa give way to the coarser language and surface descriptions of life in America." As one example, Wilkerson points out that Gyasi juxtaposes a studious first-generation, African girl with an African American girl who appears adverse to educational pursuits. "It is dispiriting to encounter such a worn-out cliché — that ­African-Americans are hostile to reading and education — in a work of such beauty," writes Wilkerson.

Months ago, I wrote about the deep investments that Knopf, Gyasi's publisher, was putting into the novel. So far, the reviews and extensive coverage of Homegoing suggest that those investments are paying off. The commentary on the novel has largely been positive.

Yet, Wilkerson's review does raise some concerns about Gyasi's presentation of black folks on this side of the Atlantic: "On the whole, African-Americans are shown as passive, boats buffeted by the currents. Rarely do we see the richness of their lives."

[by Howard Rambsy II]

Friday, July 22, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (7/16-7/22)

Troy Wiggins of Book Riot created a reading list titled, "The Effects of Racism." Making the list is Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, Margo Jefferson's Negroland, and Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric. Click the link above to view to rest of the list!

Poet Nikki Giovanni opened up about her close friendship with singer Nina Simone. Giovanni said Simone, a civil rights activist during her lifetime, would have readily joined the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.

Thousands of miles away from earth, in space. How Star Trek continues to embrace diversity 50 years later.

Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming, spoke with The Root about why she became a writer, and her move from writing children's to adult literature.

This past week, The Project on the History of Black Writing and the KU Department of English has hosted 15 scholars from Beijing Foreign Studies University for a ten day summer institute. The scholars, who come from a variety of disciplines in the university, came to learn about the US education system, race relations, politics, and American life overall. Each day of the institute is filled with sessions where speakers educate the visiting scholars on different facets of education. A few of these talks have included "Whiteness, the Middle Class, and the U.S." by professor David Roediger, "Representations of Race and Ethincity in Disney Films" by professor Gizelle Anatol, and "Ethics and Transcultural Reading: Two Perspectives on Geling Yan's The Flowers of War" by professor Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Toward a History of the Black Book Interactive Project

By Kenton Rambsy

At the 2014 Modern Language Association (MLA), Professor Warren Carson moderated the panel, “Words, Works, and New Archives: Studying African American Literature in the Twenty-First Century,” that included professors Dana Williams, Regina Bradley, and me. In my presentations, “The Black Book: Creating an Interactive Research Environment," I discussed my ongoing work with a metadata collection project I founded as Digital Initiative Coordinator for HBW.

I had been working on the metadata collection project for three years at the time of the presentation. On February 22, 2011, when I launched the HBW blog, I began blogging about the “100 Novels, Trend Analyses Project.”

In the first post, I began describing preliminary findings that resulted in gathering data in 100 African-American-authored novels—from Williams Wells Brown’s Clotel; or, the President’s Daughter (1853) to Terry McMillan’s Getting to Happy (2010). In these early stages, I began to notice recurring trends. For instance, I noticed that most novels I covered with extensive Wikipedia pages and several contemporary print additions had often been adapted into movies. I also noted after 1980, an increasing number of novels on The New York Times bestseller list were by novelists who earned M.F.A. degrees.

Over time, the project evolved and began addressing broad fields of information related to novels such as thematic content and publication histories. The project later took on the name “Black Book Interactive Project” after reading The Black Book edited by Middleton A. Harris, Ernest Smith, Morris Levitt, and Toni Morrison.

In 2013, with Professor Maryemma Graham, I wrote and earned a seed grant from the University of Kansas where I was pursuing graduate studies to develop the project. From 2013 – 2014, Will Cunningham – another graduate student in the program – and I served as research assistants for the project, where we began to devote more time to studying the significance of tagged data in literary databases. Our investigations revealed that there were no current systems that accounted for variations of race, class, and gender with current literary metadata schemas.

We submitted two NEH Digital humanities grants from this project. This past spring, we received a Level I Digital Humanities Start Up grant, which will ensure that the project continues to develop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reverse Passing: From Rachel Dolezal to Vijay Chokalingam

When I first heard Rachel Dolezal's claim that she was African American because she identified with African American culture, and then Mindy Kailing’s brother Vijay Chokalingam’s confession that he pretended to be African American in order to get into medical school, I was livid. I was jealous. And then there is Verda Byrd, who had been adopted and raised by African-American parents, and did not learn until she was past the age of 70 that her biological parents were white. Byrd, believing she was black her entire life, said that she "still feels black and that's not going to change," even after seeing the adoption papers which labeled her as "white."

The fluidity of identity has always fascinated me, that a person can choose to be another race. In the case of Byrd, her racial passing was unintentional. This fascination stems from my own bi-racial heritage. With a Pakistani father and an African American mother, it is a challenge to get people to believe I am half African American. Dolezal and Chokalingam's revelations seem to suggest that today being bi-racial is a fashion statement, a status one can use to gain leverage in society by "passing." As my cousin Danne would say, “you and your sisters are designer babies,” meaning my sister and I have come to represent an ideal in contemporary society. Another one of my cousins, Narah, believes that most people do not want to be mono-racial anymore; it's neither interesting nor exotic, she claims.

Friday, July 15, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (7/9-7/15)

This past Sunday evening at South Park in Lawrence, KS, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil to mourn the two latest victims of police shootings, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Participants were encouraged to share stories and give their condolences.

"A Man Was Lynched By Police Yesterday." Artist Dread Scott recreates an old NAACP flag to draw attention to the rampant killings of black citizens by police. Scott added the words "By Police" to the original flag with the goal of "direct[ing] people toward the history of 'lynch mob terror' and how the police have more recently played a similar role." Scott said, "I think that saying a man was lynched by police actually brings up an important history in this country in a way that I think people get."

Christina Vortia of Bookriot created a self-care book list for African Americans in light of the recent police shootings. A few books to make the list are Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, and Baratunde Thurston's How to be Black.

This year's Caine Prize winner for African writing was announced on July 5. Writer, photographer, and filmmaker Lidudumalingani won the prize this year for his story “Memories We Lost.”  The prize was launched in 2000 to highlight the diversity of African writing and show the development in contemporary African story-telling tradition.

Writer Shannon Cain wrote about squatting at James Baldwin's house.

Poet Claudia Rankine, author of the award winning book Citizenspoke with NPR about the racial violence in this country.

Kenny Brechner reflected on the life of Lucille Clifton and her legacy of adding diversity to the world of children's books. 

NPR spoke with three of the Black Lives Matter founders to discuss the paradigm shift they have seen in the movement. Opal Tometi of BLM said, "What we're witnessing right now is a deepening level of commitment from people of conscience from all different walks of life. We're seeing a really vibrant, multiracial movement for Black Lives. And we're seeing it evidenced by the people who still committed to being in the streets this weekend."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

On the origins of the HBW Blog

By Kenton Rambsy

In June 2009, I met Maryemma Graham at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. I was a summer fellow at the Schomburg-Humanities summer institute, and she was one of more than a dozen renowned artists and scholars, including Nikkey Finney, Alondra Nelson, William Strickland, James Stewart, and Benjamin Talton, who came to present their research and interact with participants.

I found out that Professor Graham was the director of the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW) at the University of Kansas. Founded in 1983 originally as a novel recovery project, HBW has evolved over the years to champion research and inclusion efforts in higher education by organizing over 10 NEH summer institutes on African American literature. Professor Graham recruited me to the graduate program at KU with the incentive of serving in an administrative role with HBW beginning in August 2010.

After a search of the web, I noticed that there were not many (if any) sites devoted primarily to conversations about African American novels. Since the HBW boasts a robust collection of well-known and lesser-known black novels, I decided to create a blog to showcase some of the holdings and the project’s general activities. I launched the site on Tuesday, February 22, 2011.

I served as editor of the site and enlisted the support of guest bloggers to build a core readership. Professors Frank Dobson, Gregory E. Rutledge, novelist Kevin Reeves, Jerry W. Ward, Jr., and then graduate school colleagues Crystal Boson, Jennifer M. Colatosti, Earl Brooks, and James Haile were some of the earliest guest contributors. Since the blog’s founding in 2011, the contributors and I published 562 entries on the site.

We were especially active on the blog in 2011 and 2012, producing a combined total of 253 posts. Since my departure as editor in the Fall of 2013, the blog has continued to flourish under the editorial leadership of Meredith Wiggins and Matthew Broussard. Approaching the fifth year anniversary, the HBW blog has become a key venue where professors, graduate students, and creative writers publish informative entries and resources devoted to the study of African American literature and history.

The blog contains some of my early work on a literary metadata collection known as the “100 Novels Project” -- a trend analyses of black literary texts that was later renamed the Black Book Interactive Project.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 Summer Reading Lists

The following summer readings lists have been compiled by Kathleen E. Bethel, African American Studies Librarian at Northwestern University. The three lists are divided into categories African American Fiction, Books on Chicago's Black Experience, and Black Feminist Futures. Project HBW gives a big thank you to Dr. Bethel for providing these lists. 

Top of Form


Benson, Angela. The Summer of Me. New York: William Morrow, 2016.

Black, Daniel. Listen to the Lambs: A Novel. New York: St Martin's Press, 2016.

Buckhanon, Kalisha. Solemn. New York: St Martin's Press, 2016.

Campbell, Stacy. Mattie's Call: A Novel. New York: Strebor Books, 2016.

Cooper, Desiree. Know the Mother: Stories. Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 2016.

Cooper, Sharon C. Model Attraction. Toronto: Harlequin Kimani Romance, 2016.

Corthron, Kia. The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter: A Novel. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2016.

Diamond, De'nesha. Queen Divas. NY: Dafina Books, Kensington Pub. Corp, 2016.

Dickey, Eric Jerome. The Blackbirds. New York: Dutton, 2016.

Ervin, Keisha. Mina's Joint: Triple Crown Collection. Wyandanch, NY: Urban Books, 2016.

Fielding, Joy. She's Not There: A Novel. New York: Ballantine Books, 2016.

Greer, Sheree L. A Return to Arms. Valley Falls, NY: Bold Strokes Books, 2016.

Hall, Rachel H. Trail of Echoes. New York: Forge, 2016.

Hickman, Trice. Deadly Satisfaction. NY: Dafina Books, Kensington Pub. Corp, 2016.

Holman, John. Triangle Ray: Stories. Ann Arbor, MI: Dzanc Books, 2016.

Jackson, Brenda. Possessed by Passion. Toronto: Harlequin Kimani, 2016.

Jenkins, Beverly. Forbidden. New York: Avon Books, 2016.

Johnson, Sadeqa. Second House from the Corner. NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2016.

Keyes, Christian. Dr. Feelgood. Wyandanch, NY: Urban Books, 2016.

LaValle, Victor D. The Ballad of Black Tom. NY: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2016.

McFadden, Bernice L. The Book of Harlan. [Brooklyn, NY]: Akashic Books, 2016.

McKinney-Whetstone, Diane. Lazaretto: A Novel. New York: Harper, 2016.

McMillan, Terry. I Almost Forgot About You: A Novel. New York: Crown, 2016

Mason, J D. The Real Mrs. Price. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2016.

Mello, Deborah Fletcher. Tuscan Heat. Toronto: Harlequin Kimani, 2016.

Monroe, Mary. Every Woman's Dream. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp, 2016.

Moore, Niyah. Thunderstorm: A Novel. New York: Strebor Books, 2016.

Mosley, Walter. Charcoal Joe: An Easy Rawlins Mystery. New York: Doubleday, 2016.

Nunez, Elizabeth. Even in Paradise. [Brooklyn, NY]: Akashic Books, 2016.

Pinckney, Darryl. Black Deutschland. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.

Rashaan, Shakir. Deception: A Novel. Largo, MD: Strebor Books, 2016.

Roby, Kimberla Lawson. Best Friends Forever. New York: Grand Central Pub., 2016.

Rochon, Farrah. Passion's Song. Toronto: Harlequin Kimani Romance, 2016.

Swinson, Kiki. The Score. Dafina Books. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp, 2016.

Thompson, Bonita. Vulnerable: A Novel. New York: Strebor Books, 2016.

Turner, Nikki. The Banks Sisters 2. Wyandanch, NY: Urban Books, 2016.

Warren, Tiffany L. The Pastor's Husband. NY: Dafina Bks, Kensington Pub. Corp, 2016.

Weber, Carl, and Armstrong S. Covington. No More Mr. Nice Guy: A Family Business Novel. Wyandanch, NY: Urban Books, 2016.

Wilkinson, Crystal. The Birds of Opulence. Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 2016.

Williams, Synithia. A New York Kind of Love. Toronto: Harlequin Kimani, 2016.

Wright, Elle. Her Kind of Man. New York: Forever, 2016.

Zane. Zane's Vengeance: A Novel. New York: Atria Books, 2016.

“My Kind of Town…”

2015-2016 Books on Chicago’s Black Experience

Aviles de Bradley, Ann M. From Charity to Equity: Race, Homelessness, and Urban Schools. New York: Teachers College Press, 2015.

Beckwith, Naomi, and Dieter Roelstraete. The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Butters, Gerald R. From Sweetback to Super Fly: Race and Film Audiences in Chicago's Loop. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2015.

Chatelain, Marcia. South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015.

Crawford, Maulachi D. Black Muslims and the Law: Civil Liberties from Elijah Muhammad to Muhammad Ali. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015.

Drake, St. Clair and Horace R. Cayton. Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City. With a New Forward by Mary Pattillo. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Ernie: Special Photographic Tribute. Chicago: Triumph Books LLC, 2015.

Finley, Mary L., Bernard LaFayette, James R. Ralph, and Pam Smith. The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

Gifford, Justin. Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim. New York: Doubleday, 2015.

Harper, Alan. Waiting for Buddy Guy: Chicago Blues at the Crossroads. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016.

Jefferson, Margo. Negroland: A Memoir. New York: Pantheon Books, 2015.

Kimble, Lionel Jr. A New Deal for Bronzeville: Housing, Employment, & Civil Rights in Black Chicago, 1935-1955. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015.

Maly, Michael T, and Heather M. Dalmage. Vanishing Eden: White Construction of Memory, Meaning, and Identity in a Racially Changing City. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2016

Marovich, Robert M. A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Michaeli, Ethan. The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America: From the Age of the Pullman Porters to the Age of Obama. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Moore, Natalie Y. The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation. New York: St Martin's Press, 2016.

Morris, James McGrath. Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press. New York: Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015.

Mulder, Mark T. Shades of White Flight: Evangelical Congregations and Urban Departure. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015.

Mullen, Bill. Popular Fronts: Chicago and African-American Cultural Politics, 1935-46. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Neary, Timothy B. Crossing Parish Boundaries: Race, Sports, and Catholic Youth in Chicago, 1914-1954. Chicago: London, 2016.

Pinder, Kymberly N. Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016.

Schneiderhan, Erik. The Size of Others' Burdens: Barack Obama, Jane Addams, and the Politics of Helping Others. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015.

Shabazz, Rashad. Spatializing Blackness: Architectures of Confinement and Black Masculinity in Chicago. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Slevin, Peter. Michelle Obama: A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.

Smith, Patricia, and Michael Abramson. Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust on Chicago's South Side from the Seventies. Chicago: CityFiles Press, 2015.

Taylor-Williams, Bonnie. With These Hands: A Country Girl Came to Town. [United States]: Bonnie Taylor-Williams, Inc., 2015.

Van Cleve, Nicole Gonzalez. Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America's Largest Criminal Court. Stanford, CA: Stanford Law Books, 2016.

Williams, Sonja D. Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Wright, Richard, and Earle V. Bryant. Byline, Richard Wright: Articles from the Daily Worker and New Masses. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2015.

["My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)," 1964 song by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn]


Bibliography of 2016 books compiled for the

May 20-21, 2016 symposium at Northwestern University

Adams, Betty L. Black Women's Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb. NY: New York University Press, 2016.

Berger, Iris. Women in Twentieth-Century Africa. NY: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Black Women's Portrayals on Reality Television: The New Sapphire, edited by Donnetrice Allison. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.

Barcella, Laura and Pierre Summer. Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World. San Francisco, CA: Zest Books, 2016.

Bell-Scott, Patricia. The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice. NY: Alfred A Knopf, 2016.

Courtney, Jarrett. Not Your Momma's Feminism: Introduction to Women's Gender Studies. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2016.

Davis, Angela Y. and Frank Barat. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2016.

Day, Keri. Religious Resistance to Neoliberalism: Womanist and Black Feminist Perspectives. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Ennaji, Moha, Fatima Sadiqi, and Karen Vintges. Moroccan Feminisms: New Perspectives. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2016.

Gammage, Marquita M. Representations of Black Women in the Media: The Damnation of Black Womanhood. NY: Routledge, 2016.

Etienne, Jan. Learning in Womanist Ways: Narratives of First Generation African Caribbean Women. London: Trentham Books, 2016.

Falcón, Sylvanna M. Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism Inside the United Nations. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016.

Gumbs, Alexis P, China Martens, and Mai'a Williams. Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016.

Haley, Sarah. No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016.

Harris, LaShawn. Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners: Black Women in New York City's Underground Economy. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2016.

Hinton, Laura. Jayne Cortez, Adrienne Rich, and the Feminist Superhero: Voice, Vision, Politics, and Performance in U.S. Contemporary Women's Poetics. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.

Hobson, Janell, editor. Are All the Women Still White?: Rethinking Race, Expanding Feminisms. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2016.

Hogan, Kristen. The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.

Jackson, Tricia W. Women in Black History: Stories of Courage, Faith, and Resilience. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2016.

Joseph, Gloria I. The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde. [n.p.]: Villarosa Media, 2016.

Kovalova, Karla, Black Feminist Literary Criticism: Past and Present. NY: Peter Lang, 2016.

Mocombe, Paul C, Carol Tomlin, and Victoria Showunmi. Jesus and the Streets: The Loci of Causality for the Intra-Racial Gender Academic Achievement Gap in Black Urban America and the United Kingdom. Lanham: University Press of America, Inc., 2016.

Morris, Monique W. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. NY: The New Press, 2016.

Nnaemeka, Obioma, and Jennifer T. Springer. Unraveling Gender, Race & Diaspora. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2016.

Noble, Safiya U, and Brendesha M. Tynes. The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class and Culture Online. NY: Peter Lang, 2016.

Scanlon, Jennifer. Until There Is Justice: The Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman. NY: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Short, Ellen L, and Leo Wilton. Talking About Structural Inequalities in Everyday Life: New Politics of Race in Groups, Organizations, and Social Systems. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc., 2016.

Sinha, Manisha. The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

Thomlinson, Natalie. Race, Ethnicity and the Women's Movement in England, 1968-1993. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Recently Released and Forthcoming:

Adeniji-Neill, Dolapo, and Anne M. N. Mungai. Written in Her Own Voice: Ethno-educational Autobiographies of Women in Education. NY: Peter Lang, (2016)

Albert B. Cleage Jr. and the Legacy of the Black Madonna and Child, edited by Jawanza Eric Clark. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, (Sept. 2016).

Bryant-Davis, Thema, and Lillian Comas-Díaz. Womanist and Mujerista Psychologies: Voices of Fire, Acts of Courage. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, (June 2016).

Carey, Tamika L. Rhetorical Healing: The Reeducation of Contemporary Black Womanhood. Albany: State University of New York Press, (Nov. 2016).

Cooper, Brittney, Morris, Susana M., and Boylorn, Robin M. The Crunk Feminist Collection. NY: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, (Jan. 2017).

Crowder, Stephanie R. Buckhanon. When Momma Speaks: The Bible and Motherhood from a Womanist Perspective. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, (Sept. 2016).

DuRocher, Kristina. Ida B. Wells: Social Reformer and Activist. NY: Routledge (Aug. 2016).

Edwin, Shirin. Privately Empowered: Expressing Feminism in Islam in Northern Nigerian Fiction. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, (Sept. 2016).

Cruz, Ariane. The Color of Kink: Black Women, BDSM, and Pornography. NY: New York University Press, (Oct. 2016).

David, Miriam E. Reclaiming Feminism. Bristol: Policy Press, (Aug. 2016).

Feminist Perspectives on Orange Is the New Black: Thirteen Critical Essays, edited by April Kalogeropoulos Householder and Adrienne Trier-Bieniek. Jefferson, NC: Mcfarland, (July 2016).

Garvey, Amy J, and Louis J. Parascandola. Amy Jacques Garvey: Selected Writings from the Negro World, 1923-1928. The University of Tennessee Press, (2016?).

Gentles-Peart, Kamille. Romance with Voluptuousness: Caribbean Women and Thick Bodies in the United States. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, (Oct. 2016).

Goett, Jennifer. Black Autonomy: Race, Gender, and Afro-Nicaraguan Activism. Stanford: Stanford University Press (Nov. 2016).

Gumbs, Alexis P. Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity. Durham: Duke University Press, (Oct. 2016).

Harwell, Osizwe R. This Woman's Work: The Writing and Activism of Bebe Moore Campbell. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi (June 2016).

Hayes, Diana L. No Crystal Stair: Womanist Spirituality. Maryknoll: Orbis Bks, (Aug. 2016).

Hosein, Gabrielle, and Parpart, Jane. Negotiating Gender, Policy and Politics in the Caribbean: Feminist Strategies, Masculinist Resistance and Transformational Possibilities. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc., (Dec. 2016).

Hossein, Caroline Shenaz. Politicized Microfinance: Money, Power, and Violence in the Black Americas. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, (July 2016).

Juanita, Judy. De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland. Oakland,CA: EquiDistance Press, (July 2016).

Macagnan, Clea B. Council Women and Corporate Performance in the Brazilian Capital Market. New York: Nova Science Publishers, (June 2016).

McKinnon, Sara L. Gendered Asylum: Race and Violence in U.S. Law and Politics. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, (Sept. 2016).

Threadcraft, Shatema. Intimate Justice: The Black Female Body and the Body Politic. New York: Oxford University Press, (Oct. 2016).

Trier-Bieniek, Adrienne. The Beyonce Effect: Essays on Sexuality, Race and Feminism. McFarland Publishing, (Oct. 2016).

Williamson, Terrion L. Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life. Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press, (Oct. 2016).

Walker-McWilliams, Marcia. Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, (Oct. 2016).

Ward, Stephen M. In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press (Sept. 2016).

Wright, Nazera Sadiq. Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, (Nov. 2016).

By Kathleen E. Bethel, African American Studies Librarian

Liaison for Gender & Sexuality Studies and Caribbean Studies

Northwestern University Libraries, Evanston, IL

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tosin Abasi – Reinventing Modern Progressive Music

Music can touch the soul, create movements, define us. Prince's music showed us what it means to love and break through societal boundaries, and Beyonce's latest album Lemonade empowered women all over the world. There are numerous artists who are under-recognized and who are just as influential. HBW staff member Connor Noteboom analyzes the innovative style of guitar player Tosin Abasi. 

Tosin Abasi – it is a name you have probably never heard of. He is the primary writer and guitar player for the band Animals as Leaders – another name you have probably never heard. Despite his relative mainstream obscurity, he is changing the face of what modern progressive metal music looks like. Abasi’s full name is Oluwatosin Ayoyinka Olumide Abasi and he is a first generation American born to Nigerian parents. Abasi was born in Washington D.C. in 1983 and still currently resides there.

After seeing an advertisement for cheap guitars in the newspaper at the age of 12, Abasi convinced his father to buy one for him. In a Noisecreep article, it is reported that Abasi said: “I told my dad I wanted one and he was open-minded, for a Nigerian immigrant.” Abasi also mentioned how his mother’s experience as an immigrant led her to be less supportive of his music. Abasi said, “My mom definitely represents more of the traditional immigrant mentality of education and conventional channels being way more important than a creative endeavor. She doesn’t get it, which is fine, since my dad was totally liberal about the whole thing and encouraging and proud. The two forces balance each other out.” Abasi learned to play the guitar quickly and he was soon the best player in school. He went on to play in a series of local metal bands before receiving an offer from Prosthetic Records to join their solo artist roster. At first, Abasi refused, preferring to improve his talents by studying at the Atlanta Institute of Music. Eventually, after graduating, he accepted the deal which spawned his band Animals as Leaders.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (7/1-7/8)

The Toni Morrison Society conference is coming up! This year's conference will be held in New York, New York from July 21-24th at The Roosevelt Hotel. The theme for this year is "Toni Morrison and her Role as Editor." Project HBW's Language Matters is an NEH funded program of the Toni Morrison Society designed to promote dialogue and provide educational resources on the works of Toni Morrison. Learn more about this year's Toni Morrison Society conference HERE and Project HBW's Language Matters program HERE.

Walton Muyumba reviewed the book Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education by Mychal Denzel Smith. Smith's memoir is a coming of age tale which critiques the forces that muffle young black voices and derail them from attaining a black manhood.

Author Alice Walker wrote a poem, "Here it is," in response to Jesse Williams's speech at the BET Awards. During an award acceptance speech, Williams spoke out against the system that has continued to divide and suppress black men and women. Read Walker's poem and view Williams's speech here on Alice Walker's official website.

Karen Grigsby Bates of NPR remembered civil rights activist and Tuskegee airman Roscoe C. Brown. After the war, Brown went on to earn a PhD from NYU and entered the education sector, serving as the president of Bronx Community College and the director of both the Center for Urban Education Policy at the Graduate School and the University Center of the City University of New York. Brown died on Saturday at the age of 94.

Months after the Release of Ta Nehisi Coates's newest Marvel Comics character The Black Panther, Marvel has introduced yet another black hero into he Marvel lineup. Riri Williams, the newest Ironman, is a 15 year old black girl who build a suit of armor in her dorm room at MIT.

Dr. Jerry W. Ward, Jr. wrote on the rhetoric of Donald Trump in his piece "Political Pornography."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Political Pornography

A few decades ago in the Black South, it was not uncommon for black women who did domestic work to speak of "our white folks" as if they actually owned those people. Such womanist talk involved subtle, racial codes. It was easy to misinterpret what they were saying, to think they were speaking in terms of affection and intimacy about members of the family. Their observations were based on proximity rather than endearment. Love was not a part of the conversation. When it is alleged that Donald Trump said "look at my African American," is it reasonable to think he was talking like a domestic worker? Hell, no. His utterance was informed by the codes of the slave auction not those of the kitchen. "Donald, did you buy the dude at a discount?"

Unfortunately, we seem to lack reliable conservative voices to explain what Trump is saying about the opening of the American mind. There is dead silence when it comes to discriminating between what Trump is selling and what Allan Bloom tried to market in The Closing of the American Mind (1987). Yes, the neoliberal voices babble endlessly about Trump, but the attention they give him is informed by perverse blindness. They seem not to see what Ralph Ellison inscribed about politics and the sociology of race in his beloved novel Invisible Man (1952), especially in the battle royal episode. Those who are not visually challenged seem to have taken a vow of silence. It is unfortunate that William Bennett, once one of the more important white conservative voices in America, loss his moral compass and can now say nothing that has credibility.

Friday, July 1, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (6/24-6/30)

Tayllor Johnson wrote a wonderful piece on Beyonce's Lemonade.

Hope Wabuke of The Root spoke with Yaa Gyasi about her debut novel, HomegoingIn the interview, Gyasi discussed her inspiration to become a writer, craft, and race.

If you haven't already read Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing, has posted an excerpt from the first chapter. 

The Color Purple is on Broadway and has received the 2016 Tony Award for best musical revival. Buy your tickets here!

Taryn Finley of The Root recapped a panel with literary greats Sonia Sanchez, Toni Morrison, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. The panelists, who met in front of a sold out crowd at the Ambassador Theatre in New York, discussed their craft and issues of social justice.

Austin Clarke, author who wrote on the black experience and one of the founders of Yale's black studies program, died at 81. Clarke's 2002 novel, The Polished Hoe, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Writer's Prize. His memoir, Remembering, discusses his experiences as a journalist covering the civil rights movement in Harlem in the 1960s.

The New York times highlighted the popular distillery Jack Daniel's and a slave's role in helping to make the famous beverage.