I love Valentines day. I love the hearts and the pink things and all the romance. I tried for a little while to not like it, but it is just a holiday I love. I always hear guys saying, “It’s a Hallmark holiday, blah blah blah.” But why would you not want a designated day that you get to show the one you adore that you love them. Why would you not want to do that collectively? That’s what’s nice about holidays that most of your community celebrates, celebrating together. I’m going to celebrate it this year, just like I have been because it makes me smile. Maybe I’ll even plan an art date with myself for Valentines Day. If I do, I’ll try my best to share my day with you guys.
Stop overlooking your natural talent
you have them
you tucked them in your chest
prepared to unlock
You don’t need to wait,
you can open it
There are so many times we wait for someone else to unlock the door for us but the whole time we have the keys tucked away. Don’t forget that you have everything you need inside you. I know, I know, sounds like something from an animated children’s movie. But hear me out, let’s cool the keys what they are, tools. The tools you’ve acquired to get where you are now, are so valuable.
Our minds filter out what it thinks we don’t need. They say we don’t notice details when we take the same route to work every day. The same happens with our natural gifts. When we do something so easily, we tend to undervalue it, maybe even think anyone could do it. But it’s not true. Yes, some people could probably do it and some people might do it better but the point is, that tool is yours to open doors with. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing with theirs.
If you’re good at walking and you just love walking, organize a group. Walk in a way that challenges you. Find a job that you can walk to. Add music and make videos online until you and your tribe find each other. It’s way too often in this life that these valuable gifts are overlooked. Those doors are yours, so get those keys out.
You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. -Richard Branson
The parts that are highlighted are the parts my Medium community thought were pretty cool.
And I’m not just talking about house work. I’m talking managing the entire household. So I’m taking a break from it. Here’s a quote from NPR
On how women often assume the responsibility for “invisible work,” such as maintaining schedules and maintaining family tieshttps://www.npr.org/2020/05/21/860091230/pandemic-makes-evident-grotesque-gender-inequality-in-household-work
There’s also this from the same article,
There’s a whole body of research around what’s called “the mental load.” It’s something that women also disproportionately bear. … It’s all of the stuff that you have to keep in your mind.
Here’s a quote from a journal titled Invisible Work by A. Daniels from Oxford University Press that speaks on both women and impactful volunteer work
The lack of social validation implicit in disregard of all the [home planning] required tells women this effort doesn’t count as work; and they themselves often discount the effort it requires. Another area where the folk idea of work is too restrictive is in the distinction between paid and unpaid labor commonly associated with work–even in the public world. The work of community service volunteers is useful, but that it is not paid tells others— and volunteers themselves that it is not needed, not really important work despite all the lip service about the value of altruistic endeavor.Daniels, A. (1987). Invisible Work. Social Problems, 34(5), 403-415. doi:10.2307/800538
I don’t need all this “credible” validation but it makes for better writing when you add quotes from people who paid a lot of money to have authority to say them. I’m taking a break from the invisible and visible domestic duties. I felt like sharing so other women who share their home can take a break with me. Then we’re not in this alone. I don’t mind breaking alone but aren’t we so much better together.
I’ll be writing my book if you need me. #momsaway
Amazing things don’t start out as a masterpiece. There’s just this chaos of thoughts with many different names that we as artists morph into one thing. We grab a bit here a bit there and create where we need to.
There’s many different reasons people decide to create things. Some people do it to heal. Some people do it solve a problem and some people create just for the sake of creating. I like to think, I dabble in all of those things. Which is why when I start, it’s chaos. There’s three different things that need to come out in one versatile medium. I have something to say, something to heal, and I have creativity inside me that needs to let out.
For me, Creating is a mosaic. It’s a collection of so many things. I want it all with one amazing idea to work with. Even if the idea seems simple enough, it takes the messy creativity to get to the simple idea.
So how do you get to what matters most?
You know that thing you’re clinging on to too tight, it’s time to give it away.
The tighter you squeeze
the less it can breathe
Give it away.
Stop holding it secret
or hostage or in the dark corner
of your closet
Give it away.
It wasn’t meant to be
saved for only you and
the few you choose
Give it away.
Originally posted on Jaynepress.medium.com
The highlighted lines are the lines my medium community really enjoyed. Thanks for reading.
What does it mean to be a whole person?
He toils away
his days tossed like the dirty laundry
that’s left next to the hamper.
Not an ounce of passion
pulses through his tired veins.
His insides sink below the earth
while his muscle memory does the work
Am I of any use here? he shouts to the heavens.
The wind places itself into his net
What use am I to the wind?
“ — “
This poem was originally published on a Medium publication titled Know Thyself Heal Thyself. The highlighted sections are the lines Medium readers appreciated most.
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