A review by JC Patterson published on March 21, 2021The Stars Fell by Chris Mason
😁 sharing for those interested
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“Challenge Your Perception” A Short Story in response to Know Thyself Heal Thyself
She paces toward the bathroom. Her loafer slippers drag against the floorboards to the beat of the music. The bedroom is cool but the rest of the house is a thousand degrees. “It’s never ok to hurt someone, not physically or any other way.”
Hell wouldn’t have a bedroom to cool off in, she’s lucky. She’s a lucky girl to have such pleasures in this life. The clock on wall ticks but she can’t hear it even when she gets in its face. She feels her chest begin to sweat.
Back to the bedroom.
The house is full of her acceptance. A beautiful house on a U with a ghost-black gate around it. No trespassers. No hate from the outside coming in, just a community of names. Everyone knows names.
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For the conscious writer
“We are agents of beginnings.” –Art as Existence by Gabriele Guercio.
When I first started writing, I wanted to hide behind my creations. I wanted to be an anonymous figure that created something powerful. For me, there was a sense of humility in creating a profound piece of art while living in secret without all the reviews and rewards. Living a private life, hidden from the world is something I do treasure. So this seemed like a marvelous path. But there’s a problem with this mindset. First, let’s talk about our new beginnings.
“Who am I?”
One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as artists. This really is the bedrock of our creations. This is where writing is transformed from mimicry to individual and original works. Okay, now that we’ve clarified our foundation, let’s keep moving forward. What accompanies our who?
With our “who” we are led to our why? Like, why are we writing? Then we are led to our what? What are we doing about our why and our who? For clarity, this might be what your why looks like:
I am the representation of a strong woman who perseveres as a writer to show others the gifts and tools writing can provide.
Ok, let’s just say you know your why, how are you acting on that? Not in your art, in your life. What are you actively doing to pass on this mindset? So what I’m saying is, you are what you do. Not what you’ve done but what you do presently. The monotony, the unexpected, the things you say yes to are all who you are. This isn’t to create a sense of unforgiveness or shame but to bring awareness to your actions as a conscious writer.
I am [insert your action] because [insert why].
When you begin to explore your who, the goal is, or should be, to become aware of both your internal and your external until you overcome the gap. Freud would say making the unconscious conscious. Whatever you label it, this exploration has no end. Closing the gap between the two isn’t to reach a fixed state. It should be understood as a constant “production of presence.” According to Gabriele Guercio in Art as Existence; Hanna Arendt, a twentieth-century great thinker, argues,
for a view of the the human condition in which everyone’s insertion in the world must be understood as a ‘second birth,’ singularity revealed via praxis. This birth ‘is not the beginning of something but of somebody, who is a beginner himself.’ It occurs when one stops belonging merely to a natural species and asserts one’s own initiative.
We are a species of new beginnings. The initial “insertion into the world” (what Arendt would like us to call second-birth,) is what some call self-actualization. Part of the second birth is accepting that we aren’t a fixed state. Which means your “who” and your “what” can evolve and change as the gap between the two closes. And as it closes you become fully embodied in your who. What a beautiful thing it can be to become an unpredictable and unique individual. Someone with their own initiative who doesn’t just go with the flow of things.
This is why my mindset shifted from hiding behind my art. I realized that my becoming is part of my novel writing. This becoming and unbecoming is what is going to make my art art. I show up with my flaws, and my mistakes, and my manic days, and my downward spirals because my awareness of all these details is going to close the gap. It’s going to insert my humanity into the world with all my “beginner” showing. It is now my intention to allow my life to compliment my art. I want to mirror something other than the outside world, I want to mirror myself.
The quotes in this article were taken from Art as Existence by Gabriele Guercio.
For the Conscious Writer
What you’re willing to die for, should be the same as what you’re willing to live for. Death is inevitable. Not in a depressing way but we all know it’s coming. What’s unknown, though? Your greatness? The impact your writing will have? How much you will change with your mere existence? Those are all unknowns and they always will be. One of my favorite songs from Eminem’s Music to Be Murdered By -Side B album is his song titled Higher. Here’s a line
All I know is every time I think I hit my ceiling
I go higher than I’ve ever fuckin’ been
That’s something worth thinking about. For a long time, I knew my daughter was the only thing in this life worth dying for. I said that religiously. But I was killing myself. I had destructive thoughts. While I did enjoy fitness, I still wasn’t taking in enough calories so it was taking a toll on my mental health. My digestion went downhill. My emotions went downhill which had an impact on my relationship and ability to make proper decisions for the future of my daughter.
Then it hit one day. Okay, you’d die for your baby and your mom but what are you willing to stay alive for? Life is fuckin hard as shit. So hard in fact that living in a healthy way is the best most precious gift I could ever give to myself and my daughter.
That shift in mindset changed my entire perspective on why I’m alive and how I should be thinking about my purpose, my motivations, my disciplines, and my relationships.
So yes, how did you die, but it also means (and more importantly) How did you live?
How Did You Die?
Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?
You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that!
Come up with a smiling face.
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there-that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts;
It’s how did you fight-and why?
And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he’s slow or spry,
It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,
But only how did you die?
–Edmund Vance Cooke
Publication: For the Conscious Writer
The highlights are lines Medium members thought were pretty awesome.
For the Conscious Reader 150 Black Authors organized into genre.
“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’ve explained in my previous posts, (here, and here) that I’m going to be more intentional about the books I read. So I wanted to take the time to share my journey with you guys. I’ve begun this journey by google searching “books by black authors.”
Please note: This is only the beginning, I intend to network and connect with lesser known authors as well. Moving on.
I want to read books from individuals whose voices need to be heard and understood, in order create social change. I want to keep a forward momentum on all of our efforts. I do believe that right the internet is a great place to create social change. It can allow people to search up topics without judgement. We just have to make the topics visible to everyone. Also, I have learned mostly as an author, that reading books helps me to notice similarities I have with the others, whether it be the author or the characters. I love that feeling when I’m reading and I’m like “Oh, they thought of that too!”
Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer, here is the list of lists of black authors from reliable sources.
Here they are by genre
Fiction is in Alphabet order by title and Non Fiction is in alphabet order by last name.
The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
If I Stay Right Here: A Novel by Chwayita Ngamlana
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan
Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes
On Beauty: A Novel by Zadie Smith
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley
Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
Grand Union by Zadie Smith
Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Uncle Tom’s Children A Novella by Richard Wright
What We Lose by zinzi clemmons
Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Coming of Age
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
Indigo by Beverly Jenkins
Waiting To Exhale by Terry McMillan
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Another Country by James Baldwin
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Finding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBride
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Loving Day by Mat Johnson
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Travelers by Regina Porter
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Vanishing Half by Brit BennettThe Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Version Control by Dexter Palmer
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History by Camille T. Dungy
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Take This Stallion by Anaïs Duplan
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire
salt. by Nayyirah Waheed
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt
The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race by Melanye Price
They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell
Black Is the Body by Emily Bernard
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittany Cooper
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
The Well-Read Black Girl An Anthology by Glory Edim
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
The Autobiography of Malcom X by Alex Haley
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston
Some of Us Did NOT Die by June Jordan
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
Lovesong: Becoming a Jew by Julius Lester
The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jennifer Lewis
Unbowed by Wangari Maathai
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America by Gregory Pardlo
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America by Sharon Robinson
Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays by R. Eric Thomas
We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True by Gabrielle Union
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
Black Boy by Richard Wright
Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt
The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Victor Wooten
The New Jim Crowby Michelle Alexander
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
Women, Race, And Class by Angela Y. Davis
Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
Soar: How Boys Learn, Succeed, and Develop Character by David C. Banks
Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Change by Stacey Abrams
Not sure what genre
A Human Being Died That Night: Confronting Apartheid’s Chief Killer by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
End of List
Save the page and make it a 2021 challenge, or just save it for future reference.
Please feel free to contact me in order to add your favorite black authors to the list. (Fingers crossed I’ll be added soon.)
For the Conscious Writer
This is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She is an award winning author from Nigeria. She speaks in this Ted talk (which is now one of the most viewed Ted talks of all time) about how we need to be careful of the single story.
Without saying too much, I find it so commendable and inspiring of her to admit that she fell into the same flaw as the people who frustrated her most. She fell for the flaw of believing the single story.
When it comes to stories, I’d never refuse a good book that was handed to me. I read books from outside of my culture regularly. But then I thought about it and the truth is, I only read them because of school or because someone well read suggested them to me. I haven’t intentionally searched for reads outside of what’s suggested to me. Which naturally leads me into the world of dominant culture.
This talk was eye opening for many reasons, but most of all, that it is time I began to intentionally search for stories outside of American and European pop culture. Then I want to listen to what is missing from the stories I’ve already been told. I want to do this because I don’t want to limit myself from learning to accept that humans, in every walk of life, are my equal.
A little poem
She goes up
and I rise like a puppy dog
trailing behind her
She goes down
and there I am sinking
like a wrecked ship
taking on too much water
10 places I connect with humans online
I’m trying to find new places and communities on the web. I don’t usually venture out, but lately I’ve been in a search of active communities with lots of friendly connections.
I’ve signed up for Twitch because growing up, I loved watching my brother and his friends play video games. Plus, a friend I made on Instagram goes live on there so that was a great motivator to get me signed up and look around. I’m new to it, so I’m still trying to find more gamers I’m interested in following. Right now, I follow two people.
Eivlya-She’s currently playing through the entire Legend of Zelda series.
ItsKingKhaos– He’s quoted saying, “I’m not the best gamer but I have the best time gaming. I started the SWEATY GANG to make friends and build a community of people motivated to chase their dreams.” He’s welcoming and fun to watch.
I’m under Jaynepress. I’m still learning so bear with me.
I signed up for TikTok mostly because GaryVee suggested it for entrepreneurs. I’m kinda overwhelmed by all the buttons, but I’ll figure it out. It is fun to watch fitness videos to get ideas for workouts. I still have to find other videos I’d be interested in. On other platforms, I mostly watch educational, informative, or even motivational videos. So that’s probably what I’ll be searching for on there in terms of community. I haven’t found people I’m excited to follow just yet.
I’m just barely on LinkedIn but frankly, that site makes me feel like shit. Not sure what I’m going to do on there. I’ll slowly rebuild it, maybe, I don’t know.
My favorite writing communities.
I’m always looking for writing communities with pretty active members. I like WordPress communities that fall under certain hashtags, but it isn’t as active as it used to be. My favorite hashtags on WordPress are #creativewriting, #darkpoetry,#blogger, #art, #prose, #poetry, #anxiety, and #depression.
I really like Instagram and Twitter right now for writing communities. Their #amwriting community on both platforms has blown up since Nanowrimo mingled with covid, but it’s gets pretty active in November anyways.
Nanowrimo is an amazing community for writers! I have some pretty close friends I’ve made from connecting on Nanowrimo. It’s National Novel Writing Month and it’s every year in November. It’s like a game where you write a novel in a month. Very fun with so much support and education for writers of all levels.
Also there’s a couple groups on Facebook that are pretty awesome for writers. You can go in these groups and ask questions and answer questions. Some let you share your page to increase your following. Very fun.
And last but not least Medium
I have actually been struggling with finding a good community on Medium. Community wise these are the platforms I really enjoy Genius in a Bottle, Know Thyself, Heal Thyself and The Intoxicating Unhinged Mind. I think their community members are pretty active and supportive. I just feel like this platform doesn’t allow a lot of connection which is why I always add my other platforms on the bottom of my posts.
Please feel free to connect with me on other platforms to message and chat about writing. I always try my best to follow back.
Also what are your favorite communities in general? Share generously. 😀 We are all craving connection out here.
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