Oh that black history!

February is coming up soon and that means Black History Month stuff will abound. While it is a bittersweet time of year for us black folks, it does serve as a reminder, even to ourselves, to go beyond the surface of our history in America and learn something new and useful (then put it out there for everyone else to learn).

This February I plan to celebrate the month in three ways.

First, I’ll continue the project I started last year and put up more of my own family history. I’m going to contact some of my mother’s college friends and ask them to write a little something about her. And I’ll keep reaching back into the dark parts of history where my train-robbing ancestor’s antics still lurk.

Next, I plan to feature black authors and their books. I mainly know about science fiction and fantasy authors, so I welcome any suggestions of mainstream, fantasy, mystery, and non-fiction authors you’d like to see up on the blog.

Last, I want to invite some guest bloggers to contribute a post or two over the month. I’d really love to get some international black bloggers in for that. Again, if you have suggestions on who might be interesting, say so in the comments. (You can mention yourself, if you like :) )

I think that should fill up 29 days quite nicely, don’t you?

21 Responses

  1. http://madkenyanwoman.blogspot.com/. This is one of my favorite blogs, it’s especially important to me as a line of communication since I can’t be in Kenya right now. Hopefully you can make contact with her if you’re interested.

  2. Sounds like I’ll be living over here next month. :)

  3. Here are some books I like:

    The Easy Rawlins mysteries by Walter Mosely
    (Mysteries)

    Baby of the Family by Tina McElroy Ansa
    (Fiction)

    Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange
    (Fiction)

    The New Moon’s Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
    (Fiction)

    Black No More: Being and Account of the Strange and Wonderful Working of Science in the Land of the Free, A.D. 1933-1940 by George Schuyler
    (Science-fiction / satire)

    The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe
    (Satirical play)

    The Black Rose by Tananarive Due
    (Biography of Madame C.J. Walker)

    The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color Among African Americans by Kathy Russell, Midge Wilson, and Ronald E. Hall
    (Sociology)

    Fighting for America: Black Soldiers-the Unsung Heroes of World War II by Christopher Moore
    (Non-fiction history)

    Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
    (Non-fiction history. It isn’t enjoyable, but it’s very powerful and it touches on subject matter most of us don’t know very much about.)

  4. The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia is an awesome site. (And good ammunition for when somebody says that blackface “isn’t/wasn’t that bad.)

    http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/

  5. How about Tayari Jones? She’s written Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling. She blogs at tayarijones.com/blog.

  6. Rosa Guy is a writer for both adults and YA–I’ve been looking at her YA stuff as I put together my syllabus, and it seems very interesting. I’ll be teaching Friends, basically because it’s one that’s still in print; it’s about the 14-year-old daughter of Caribbean immigrants whose family moves to Harlem, and how she becomes friends with another girl in her class, an African-American girl whose family is dirt poor, and the ructions that ensue in her family. But the one I really wanted to get a hold of is out of print. Ruby is about her older sister and how she falls in love with her best friend, also a teenage girl–it predates Annie on my Mind by a couple of years, and Nancy Garden talks about it in the recent interview published in the new edition of Annie on my Mind. Her novel for adults, Bird at my Window has recently been re-released.

    I know this is not up your alley, but there’s some interesting stuff going on in picture books by black authors. Nina Crews in particular is doing some interesting stuff combining photos of her…nieces, I think, with her own illustrations to make “day in the life of” books. And Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold is a classic, touching on the little girl’s African and native American heritages, and her father’s union membership and stuff.

    Also in YA, I’ve heard good things about Tyrrell by Coe Booth, but I haven’t read it.

  7. One of the most scathing, enojyable, wittiest English-language novelists writing today is Paul Beatty. The White Boy Shuffle was his frist novel, and it garnered a LOT of attention back in the 90s. Then eight years or so ago he published his second novel Tuff to fewer (but still rave) reviews. The novels are some of the funniest, most unflinching books written about American society in the past twenty years. But though his books are better than some more celebrated authors, Beatty has never become quite so much a darling of the literatti as, say, Colson Whitehead. Maybe because Beatty’s books feel more…combative.

    He also edited Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor, which is a pretty consistently rewarding book, too.

  8. If you are up for black lesbian fiction authors, there’s Renee Bess, Gabrielle Goldsby, and Fiona Zedde (sp?) that come immediately to mind. Folks can scan the diversity page up at:

    http://sandrabarret.com/diversity.html

    but it’s people of color and characters of color so you’d have to hunt around to figure who else are the black lesbian authors.

  9. I would recommend authors Mat Johnson, Faith Adiele, Chris Abani, and Kim McLarin. Also, I ditto the recommendations for Rosa Guy and Paul Beatty.

  10. Oh, I’ve been wanting to read Mat Johnson’s Hunting in Harlem! (That’s his, right?) How is it?

  11. Hey ABW-
    Looks like you have a busy Feb lined up. I’ve been out of action and not reading yours or any other blogs for the past 3.5 months… the birth of my twin sons has kept me busy. ;) But now I am back to catching up on all the goodness that I missed in your blog these past few months. I can’t remember if I suggested this book to you before or not…. it’s by a white author who went back to the town where he grew up to do research on the public murder of a Black man by white men (the murder happened post Civil Rights Movement, when the autor was eight years old or so). The book is called Blood Done Sign My Name by Tim Tyson. It’s a great book in how it gets into discussions about white privilege and how, contrary to a lot of white people’s opinions, racial violence exists past the Civil Rights Movement. Now, I know this isn’t a Black author, but the subject matter really does fit as a tribute to Black History Month.

  12. Hi,

    Authors I’d recommend: Lalita Tademy, J. Nozipo Maraire, Ishmael Beah and Charles Saunders (btw, anybody know where I can find a copy of the 3rd Imaro book??).

    As for a potential guest blogger, I’d nominate myself. Our website is giving away 1 african ancestry trace at the end of Black History Month for all registered users. Our own trace (to Sierra Leone) inspired us to start the site, so hoping passing along that gift to another will be as life changing for them.

  13. transgressingengineer, would you like to do a guest post about the book next month?

  14. I suggest getting one of the great women from over at Black Women In Europe group. Here are a few greats:

    http://www.yvettejarvis.gr/?lang=en (Athens, Greece)
    http://www.blackexpat4obama.com/ (London)
    http://blackgirlonmars.blogspot.com (Brooklyn Trinidadian gal in Copenhagen)

  15. Sokari over at Black Looks might be a good guest blogger. I believe she’s located in Southern Africa.

  16. Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions thus far. I’ve contacted many of the authors above (some I could not because I can’t FIND the contact info) and many of them agreed to contribute essays or guest posts. I’ve seen a couple of the essays and they are amazing so far. The slate of folks who’ve agreed to guest blog is also really exciting. It’s going to be a great February.

  17. @ Veronica–I enjoyed Mat’s “Hunting in Harlem”, and have his latest, “The Great Negro Project” and his first book, “Drop”, on my proverbial nightstand. :-)

    I took a novel writing class with Mat this summer at the Hurston Wright Foundation Writers’ Week, and it was life-changing (/end cliches) :-)

  18. ABW-
    Yes I would love to do a guest blog about Tyson’s book- thanks for the invite! If possible, I’d prefer to blog mid- to late- Feb about it. Let me know how when and how to post. Thanks again!
    :)

  19. Hey, I would love to guess blog! There’s a book called Kinky Gazpacho by Lori Tharp (I think that’s how you spell her name!) that’ll be published in March. I’ve read it and it might be something interesting to review. It’s about an African American woman who falls in love with Spain, the what that forces her to confront.
    I have loads of ideas though, so don’t be shy bout getting in touch!
    Hugs,
    the lab

  20. APOLOGIES – OFF TOPIC POST!

    “It’s about an African American woman who falls in love with Spain, the what that forces her to confront.”

    Lesley-Ann, is this a novel or nonfic? I’m actually very curious about this topic, as my wife and I are planning a Spain trip this summer. I’m curious what kind of nonsense she might have to deal with there as a dark-skinned Black woman. I am fairly white-lookin’ — certainly lighter than many a Spaniard — and didn’t have problems there except for a weird instance where I was briefly mistaken for a ‘gypsy’ pickpocket. or, occasionally, when people learned my name.

    Anyway, just curious about the book’s (or any reader’s) take
    on being Black and hanging out in Spain. Apologies if this is an abuse of the board!

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