Library Haul

Library Haul 2016

I’m proud to say that since the start of this year I have kept my nose in the middle of some great books, while struggling to finish a not-so-great-one. In my latest trip to the library I picked up a few books, which are more contemporary than what I’ve been reading as of 2011.  I’m extremely excited to start.

Jam on the vineJam on the Vine (Thorndike Press, 2015) – Lashonda Katrice Barnett
“A new American classic: a dynamic tale of triumph against the odds and the compelling story of one woman’s struggle for equality ”

 

 

 

Gathering of Waters

 Gathering of Waters (Akashic Books, 2012)

“a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi–a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.”

 

 

 

Queen Sugar

 Queen Sugar (Penguin Group, 2014)

“A mother-daughter story of reinvention—about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana”

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BlackGirlMagic, A debate?

It’s common knowledge that whenever a black woman does anything she, and her actions, are subject to heavy debate. Be it dancing, hairstyle choices, or expressing self-love, she does not exist without scrutiny. So, of course when the #BlackGirlMagic movement made it’s arrival onto the pages of TeenVogue and Essence, someone was going to have something to say about it, what I didn’t expect to see was the latest article by Dr. Lina Chavers published on Elle.com:

“Black girl magic suggests we are, again, something other than human.” – Dr. Linda Chavers

Huh? That’s the exact question I asked myself after reading that article because nowhere did I see the connection between Dr. Chaver’s argument that BlackGirlMagic denies black women of their humanity, and the reality of what BlackGirlMagic means to all of the black women supporting the hashtag/movement. She even goes on to suggest that BlackGirlMagic is responsible for the egregious sexual and violent crimes committed against black women:

“When I see “black girl magic,” I think, was Sandra Bland not magical enough? Renisha McBride? Miriam Carey? Perhaps she’d been trying to be magical and, failing, started to blame herself instead.”- Dr. Linda Chavers

What? I expected these questions, I expected these implications, but I didn’t expect them from a black woman, let alone a black woman scholar. Perhaps I was naive in my own thinking that we understood BlackGirlMagic existed as a place for us not to be superwoman, but to be human, to recognize the humanity of our fallen sisters, and to raise awareness of those whose inhumane treatments outrage no one except us.

Luckily, rebuttals to Dr. Chavers stretch of an argument rose up expertly defending, and reminding, naysayers what BlackGirlMagic is.

One is from @amyjuicebox who wrote in her article for Blavity:

“#BlackGirlMagic isn’t about dehumanizing black women, who are called upon time and time again to exercise super-human strength and ridiculous levels of forgiveness in the face of every “-ism” in the book. It’s for every girl who needs #YouOkSis when she’s harassed on the street. It’s for the young women who are accused of being ##FastTailedGirls. #BlackGirlMagic wasn’t what killed Sandra Bland, it’s what got her name out there in the first place. #BlackGirlMagic wasn’t what put Marissa Alexander in prison, it’s what eventually got her out.” – Amy Juicebox 

And another rebuttal arrived from Ashley Ford (@iSmashFizzle), whose piece was published on Elle.com:

“Black Girl Magic moves way beyond the trope of impenetrable strength, and because it was created by a black woman, includes the inside joke of calling what we’ve always known to be real about our capabilities “magic.” [CaShawn] Thompson knew what she was doing, and she did it well. She helped us name the unique experience of living in this world as black women and finding a way to cross that line. She helped me name exactly what made me feel so close to Grace. She gave Harriet’s dream a name. There’s no limiting of humanity in the rhetoric here. In fact, she gave us just the opposite.” – Ashley Ford

What I appreciate about these rebuttals is the fact that they are not centered on attacking on Dr. Chavers. But perhaps the reason Dr. Chavers’ escaped such personal criticism is because her argument is not hers alone. Its echoes the sentiment of those who have an incessant need to check Beyonce’s feminist card while ignoring the transgressions of those whom they hail as queens of that movement, those who found no qualms with the all-white cast of Suffrage donning a “feminist” t-shirt, those who cry out that a show called Black Girl’s Rock is somehow exclusionary despite the fact that the Academy Awards has, once again, failed to recognize the achievements of creators of color.

These criticisms don’t usually come from those who look like us, so when Ashley and Amy offered such eloquent rebuttals, I believed their words existed to extend beyond Dr. Chavers and sit in front of those who will try to use her article as a means to denounce the BlackGirlMagic movement. Or I could be a conspiracy theorist, however, I found it quite peculiar that an article questioning a black woman’s empowerment movement would surface on a magazine site conspicuously targeted to white women–(TeenVogue republished the Blavity rebuttal on their site).  If this debate, or question, is being raised about a black women’s movement, why is it existing on a white women’s platform?

One only needs to look to twitter for some answers:

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@ztsamudzi‘s commentary is my particular favorite

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Zoe S timeline1

Thoughts?

5 Web-Series to Keep You Laughing

Issa Rae sparked something with her Akward Black Girl series. Created out of the paucity of material that reflected awkward black girls, Issa set out to change that—and that she did. Now the producer has a book, not to mention a show due out on HBO, and a series of other internet content.

But Issa isn’t the only black woman making hilarious web content. Check out these five web-series created by, and starring, black women that will keep you laughing:

1. Clench & Release 

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“Clench & Release is an original series that follows Charla, an up-and-coming comedian, as she navigates the frustrating, clench-worthy situations that inspire her stand-up.”

Such clench-worthy events include being “chicken-shamed” by another black co-worker, snorting cocaine with a homeless man, trying to buy a Plan B pill at a pharmacy in Harlem, and explaining what a celiac allergy is to a chef at a fish and chicken take-out spot.

This web-series is created by Charla Lauriston, who is a stand-up comedian and writer for Tina Fey’s Netflix series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. By the end of season 2 you will see why Fey hired Lauriston, she’s hilarious!

Start your clentch-worthy binge here: Clench & Release

2. Downtown Girls 

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“Downtown Girls is the story of four girls, Abney, Alex, Sam and Zo, who recently graduated from New York University and impulsively decide to start a business after an over-achieving college friend pays them a visit and challenges their party, do-nothing lifestyle.”

In an attempt to “revolutionize” the way their peers party these four besties decide to create an app that locates the hottest house-party. The catch is they have to come up with over $100,000 to pay for the creation of the app, so they turn their once do-nothing lifestyle of partying into a do-the-most lifestyle where they turn their house into a club and charge party-goers for everything. ECM: everything cost money—even the amount of toilet paper one uses.

Follow the wild and hilarious journey of these four girls trying to follow their dreams: Downtown Girls

3. Ackee & Saltfish 

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“A comedy that explores the everyday interactions of the two friends. The series was inspired by the desire to capture the small, random, golden and banter-filled moments between friends”

Rachel and Olivia are two friends whose constant bickering and joking will remind you of your bestie. Plus, you can’t afford to miss the intense debate on back-bread—do you eat it or do you not eat it.

The series is created by fierce visionary, Cecile Emeke, who has black women from every side of the pond laughing.

Join in the fun here: Ackee&Saltfish

4. I Love Lucy & Bekka 

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“A comedy web series about two best friends. this is a fly on the wall experience of hanging out with them.”

I Love Lucy & Bekka will have you laughing out loud and clutching your heart at the hilariously tender moments Lucy and Bekka share in their closer-than-close friendship.

The web series is created by writer/director, Rachel Holder.

Become a fly on the wall here: I Love Lucy & Bekka

5. Vocation 

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“A twenty-something writer with 0 skills must find an occupation that doesn’t require leaving her living room.”

Serie is the twenty-something who, like many of us, is  in that interim period of trying to figure out what the heck she’s going to do with her life! Watch Serie try out several careers from actress to stylist to beat-maker.

The web-series is created by writer/actress/director Shelby Coley.

Follow Serie’s hilarious series of career changes and learn more about how not to be a LinkedIn whore: Vocation

The web continues to prove that it’s a viable place for quality, and hilarious content. Each one of these web-series and creators deserves to be supported, not just because they’re black women, but because they’re HILARIOUS!

***this post was originally published on my tumblr site.

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge

(via http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2016-reading-challenge/)

Happy New Year! I’m about a week late, but I’m here nonetheless. 2015 was a phenomenal year, not without its series of challenges, but one thing I wish I would have done was read more–says the girl maintaining a book blog! Luckily there is this thing called “New Years’ Resolutions,” where I can magically rectify all of my mishaps from last year. That is why I’ve decided to take on this 2016 reading challenge!

I’ve already checked off the first box with Shonda Rhimes’, Year of YesI know, technically, it wasn’t published in 2016, but we’re only 2 weeks in.

I’m not quite sure how I am going to go about completing the list–I am almost certain I won’t be going in order. What I have decided to do is complete one challenge per month. January is already complete. I’ll be back to update in February.

Of course I’ll be reading, and posting, in the meantime.

What are some of your literary resolutions/challenges?

3 Things Shonda Rhimes Taught Me to Say “Yes” to

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I started my 2016 reading list with a “Self-help” book. Not just any “self-help” book, but the one every one and their mother–literally–has been rushing out to get (my mother gifted me a copy for Christmas, and her mother gifted her a copy for Christmas).

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, is a somewhat personal memoir that reveals how Shonda Rhimes, aka Ms. TGIT, aka Queen of Hollywood, revolutionized her life with one word, “yes.”

Now, of course it wasn’t as simple as saying the word, she actually had to follow through on a journey “yes” led her through. That journey left her over 100 lbs lighter, a few friends shorter, and a whole lot happier. Here are three things I learned while reading along:

1 Say “Yes” to Yourself:

“If I am going to say ‘Yes’…I might as well say ‘Yes’ to being me.”      – Shonda Rhimes

It is quite devastating how difficult of a responsibility this can be. Yes, a responsibility–not a job, a task, a thing on your checklist. It is your responsibility to say yes to yourself, to take care of yourself, to preserve yourself. You have to be the best you, not just for yourself, but for those (children, employees, etc.) who count on your presence and direction. No one else has been given the responsibility to live your life, or to love you, that was designed specifically for you, so why not thrive in it.

2 Say “Yes” to what scares you:

Easier said than done, right? Right. But it’s no excuse not to try. Fortunately for you, the President of Dartmouth won’t be calling you and asking you to give a commencement speech that will be attended by thousands of people and streemed across the internet. And if he did, guess what, you could do it.

Sometimes fear just needs a good slap across the face to remind it who’s the boss.

3 Say “Yes” to saying “No”:

Would you believe that someone other Sandra Oh was close to not playing  Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy? At least that would have been the case if not for that one word, “no.”

“No is a complete sentence”

There are times when saying “no,” is just as liberating as saying, “yes,” especially when it comes to yourself and what you want.

 

Shonda, by no means, created the illusion that she immediately succeeded at every new routine she developed in her year of yes. Though she keeps it rather light on the details of struggle, the important message to remember is not to give up. She didn’t say yes to perfection and neither should you. You, Shonda, and me, are saying “yes” to being our best selves.

Flight

Keep24(Stephanie Fields, Flight)

“You want to fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down” – Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon) 

So it’s finally here! I started this project in September 2015; I had absolutely no idea where I was going with it and since its inception it has taken many twists and turns. Throughout it all–the crying, the hair pulling, the teeth decaying–I am proud to have finally completed my collection of short stories & present it to the world!

“Flight” is a multimedia collection of short stories that use photo, film, and written text to explore themes of escapism for black women. The collection features 4 short stories, films, and photosets.

I am very thankful to all of those who encouraged me through this process, it has truly been a transformative experience. I hope that you all enjoy and share; I would really like to know what you think.

Ok, enough sentiment, you can find–and follow–the collection by clicking this link HERE.

xoxo – Steph

P.S. there is MUCH more coming from me in the New Year!

Mahogany

So, as you may know I’ve been working on a collection of short-stories (you can read about my experience here). The process has been extremely transformative and is nearing completion. I am excited to be able to share one of the stories, which you can read by following clicking this link.

A small excerpt can also be found below:

It was in the dead of night when headlights flooded a pale blue shotgun house rooted on modest land. The car stopped in the middle of the make-shift driveway. Margaret had been up for two hours, stirring a now lukewarm pot of coffee. She wasn’t thirsty but she needed something to occupy her hands. The rumbling sound of the engine was cut and the lights faded into the night. From the open window, she could hear two doors slam. Her heart picked up a few paces. Since her phone had rung two hours ago, she was a ball of tension. There was a rapt at her door and she jumped at the sound. She set the mug on the counter and went to open the door. Even in the blackest of night, Anne’s skin still glowed pale like the moon. Margaret didn’t say a word, she just simply stepped aside as Anne walked in, followed by her husband who was carrying a bundle of swathed cloth in his arm. Margaret shut the door, her ears had become hot and she felt an off rhythm thud in her left temple. She was stressed. Stressed after working twelve hours at the mill, stressed after coming home to find her husband still hadn’t returned, and stressed that a woman she hadn’t seen for thirteen years was now in her too small kitchen. Margaret struck a match and set the lit lantern in the middle of the table. She gestured for the couple to have a seat, her eyes still on the bundle in the man’s arms.

“Can I get ya’ll something to drink?” She asked

“No, no, we’re fine, Margaret. Thank you,” Anne refused in her crisp, elegant, northern accent.

“Well, follow me,” Margaret picked up the lantern and lead them through three doors that shot straight to the back room where a bed laid and not much else besides a wooden chair, a tin bucket, and a nightstand. 

“This will do fine, Margaret. Thank you,” Anne said. 

Margaret set the lantern on the nightstand.

“I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me,” she walked out of the room.

Margaret began making a fresh batch of coffee. She didn’t have much to offer her guest, food-wise, and though they refused her offer of coffee, bustling around the kitchen kept her mind far away from the mysterious bundle in Anne’s husband’s arms. The light from the lantern partially illuminated the small room, throwing shadows against the lit wall. Margaret peaked over her shoulder at Anne. She got a good look at the woman: tall, slim, and dressed in an expensive black pants and shirt outfit. Her hair was pushed out of her face and her eyes were bright and demanding to be looked into. She was a far cry from the Anne that Margaret had known.

“It’s a fresh pot,” Margaret gestured toward the coffee.

“No, thank you,” Anne smiled, taking a seat at the table where she placed the lantern.

“Margaret, do you remember George Stowe?”

“Sho do, how could I forget?”

“Remember when he used to pick on me for being white?” Anne laughed. Margaret kept quiet.

“One day, you finally punched him in his mouth and said, ‘she as black as you and the rest of us,’ he never messed with me again.”

“What you getting at?” Margaret wasn’t one who enjoyed digging up the past.

“Margaret, have a seat. Please.”

Margaret’s heavy feet dragged a deep groan from the floor as she took the chair opposite from Anne.

“What I was trying to say is that I wish I was as strong as you.”

Margaret huffed.

“No, really, Margaret. You weren’t ashamed of anything. I wish I had been more like you.” Anne was staring hard into Margaret’s eyes.

“You protected me back then and I never thanked you,” Anne reached over and placed her delicate hands over Margaret’s calloused ones. Margaret looked down at those dainty pale fingers. Did she really drive all the way out here to thank her for something she did almost twenty years ago?

“I want to ask you something,” Anne said.

“Ok.”

“It’s a favor, a big favor. I know I’ll owe you forever.”

Margaret inched back into her seat. She didn’t like the sound of Anne’s voice or the pleading look in her eyes. 

“Will you do it?” Anne asked

“Do what?”

“Will you…I need you to keep my daughter.”

Margaret sighed, she had imagined having to do something far worse.

“Of course,” she smiled, “for how long?”

“Forever.”

Continue reading here