Dwelling in Truth

This essay is part of a year long series following one fed-up reader’s white literature “detox.” Read more here, and follow her book list here.

The hood has a parking lot economy. If you drive down certain streets in predominately black neighborhoods, you’ll see tables and tents or sometimes just a pickup with its truck bed door open. Some of the products on offer are regional: fruit and vegetables if you live close to where there are farms, bean pies if your area has a Nation of Islam presence. Most of the products are the same no matter where you are: knockoff designer purses and logo T-shirts, self-published novels, bootleg CDs and DVDs, and every now and again some art. As a kid, whenever my mom would take us to the beauty supply store, we’d almost always see this dude selling Afrocentric wooden statuary and paintings of dark skinned people dressed like Zulu warriors and Ancient Egyptian queens. As an adult I wonder how he possibly made enough money to make it worth his while to be such a constant presence, but at the time I just thought those paintings were cool. Read More Dwelling in Truth

As Guerreiras: The Badass Lady MCs of Brazil

I don’t speak Portuguese and I can’t pretend to be the biggest hip-hop expert in the entire world, but even I can tell that the female MCs coming out of Brazil right now are up to something special and that we should all be paying attention. These ladies are having a moment that reminds me of the late ’80s through mid ’90s musical reigns of Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, and Lauren Hill. Not in terms of style — these are artists doing their own thing — but in terms of numbers, in terms of representation. Read More As Guerreiras: The Badass Lady MCs of Brazil

Historical [Fiction] Trauma

This essay is part of a year long series following one fed-up reader’s white literature “detox.” Read more here, and follow her book list here.

Read More Historical [Fiction] Trauma

The Electric Lady is the Droid You’re Looking For

Janelle Monáe has often described herself as a time traveler. While driving to work this morning and listening to the title track of her new album The Electric Lady, I finally got to see her time-hopping powers at work. Read More The Electric Lady is the Droid You’re Looking For

Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day?

For me, St. Patrick’s Day has always been about one thing: self-preservation. My first St. Paddy’s “celebration” (if it can be called that) came in kindergarten when my mother sent me to school without remembering to dress me in green, and without any warning that there would be legions of little bastards (formerly known as my classmates) waiting to pinch me for this oversight. Like most five-year-olds, I knew little more about the world than what my parents had taught me; and as a black kid with a Baptist for a mother, I knew even less about things like pagans and saints and Irish Catholics. Read More Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day?