Week 2: Feb 15 - 21


Ayiti by Roxane Gay: It's a collection of fifteen stories about Haiti through the lives of its people. One story that was rather poignant to me was the one about a young Haitian couple who was planning to leave on a boat headed to the US. Because of the state of Haiti, they knew they could not survive if they stayed. They saved up all of their money and packed up, without really knowing if they would survive even the boat trip. It was a story that stuck to me because it depicted the level of risk people take daily to survive.

Around the time I read Ayiti, I read The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson as well. I was looking for afrofuturist novels and hers were one of the first I really devoured. "Hopkinson's time-traveling, genre-spanning novel weaves a common thread of spiritualism and hope through three intertwined stories of women possessed by Ezili, the goddess of love, as she inspires, inhabits, and guides them through trying personal and historical moments."

I listened to Brown Girl in the Ring and Midnight Robber by Hopkinson using Audible. It's a great alternative to reading and both performances of the voice actors/readers add depth and drama to the story. I enjoyed listening while driving, taking the train, or reading along with the actual books.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James:

Description: A Brief History of Seven Killings is James’s fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, drug dealers, journalists, and even ghosts—James brings to life the people who walked the streets of 1970s Kingston, who dominated the crack houses of 1980s New York, and who reemerged into a radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s.

OKAY, so I LOVE THIS BOOK. It is simply brilliant the way James weaves history with fiction. The way each character comes alive so vividly through the pages is jolting and lovely. The descriptions of Kingston, the violence, and Jamaican culture is genius. I mean, the first page just hits you so unexpectedly, you have no choice but to continue. I also listened to the audiobook while reading along, which made the experience even more impactful.


To listen to Kendrick Lamar is to hear a hope chest of these voices unleashed; they are his arsenal, and because he has lived near them and collected and stored them all, he has become their imperator. At times Lamar laments that he is not a better soldier. But what Lamar does differently is to tell us of what it means to grow up as an observer and witness to an under-discussed inner-city war, while remaining for the most part uninterested in joining the battle. He instead sings a tender blues for the permanently underclass.

When the Lights Shut Off: Kendrick Lamar and the Declining of the Black Blues Narrative by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah: 

There are three statues in the United States honoring Dr. James Marion Sims, a 19th-century physician dubbed the father of modern gynecology. Invisible in his shadow are the enslaved women whom he experimented on. Today, they are unknown and unnamed except for three: Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey. This week, we grapple with their story and the troubling history of medical experimentation on African Americans.

- Remembering Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey: The Mothers of Modern Gynecology - NPR

Nollywood resonates across Africa with its stories of a precolonial past and of a present caught between village life and urban modernity. The movies explore the tensions between the individual and extended families, between the draw of urban life and the pull of the village, between Christianity and traditional beliefs. For countless people, in a place long shaped by outsiders, Nollywood is redefining the African experience

Nigeria’s Booming Film Industry Redefines African Life by NORIMITSU ONISHI

While supporting himself by teaching Hebrew, he immersed himself in Southern antebellum cookbooks, looking for references to black cooks and African-based techniques. He traveled and went to conferences. On his own time. On his own dime.

His Paula Deen takedown went viral. But this food scholar isn't done yet. by Michaele Weissman

During the day, McKissick is an activity worker and recess monitor at Hernandez Middle School in Gage Park. After work every day she goes to the CAD to plan a variety of art-related events. In February alone, she has three lined up: the fashion show, which is at the end of the month, follows a jazz show for Second Fridays in Pilsen and a global dance event at the Beauty Bar in Noble Square.

Gathering Force by Kristin Lin