black american writers

To the millions of Muslim, LGBTQ+, women, all People of Color, disabled and immigrant humans living in fear in America right now: I stand with you. I love you. We will endure. “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” Take that to heart. We will continue to grow. Stand up for each other always. Stand up against the hate that is here, and that is to come. We will push back by coming together. We will make it. You are valid. You are strong. You belong here, you belong here, you belong here.

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Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) 

American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: Dust jacket front and back from Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie. The Poetry of Maya Angelou. New York: Random House, 1971.

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde, a self-proclaimed “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” was a writer, feminist, womanist, and civil rights activist. For Lorde, writing proved to be her powerful weapon against injustice. Painfully aware that differences could provoke prejudice and violence, she promoted the bridging of barriers.

Lorde began writing poetry at age twelve. She was inspired by poets such as Keats, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Helene Margaret. As the first Black student at Hunter High School, a public school for intellectually gifted girls, she worked on the school newspaper and published her first poem, “Spring, ” in Seventeen Magazine in 1951.

Her homo-erotic feelings began to emerge during her teenage years, through various crushes on female peers and teachers. So after graduation from high school, Lorde left her parents’ home and attended Hunter College. She surrounded herself with leftist thinkers and lesbian friends. 

Audre Lorde dedicated her life to combating social injustice. She helped found Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the world’s first publishing company run by women of color. She was also a founding member of Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa, an organization that worked to raise concerns about women under apartheid.

In 1968, Lorde received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and published her first volume of poetry, “The First Cities” as a poet-in-residence at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. She began a romantic relationship with Frances Clayton that same year that would last until Lorde’s death in 1992.

As a poet, she is best known for technical mastery and emotional expression, as well as her poems that express anger and outrage at civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life.Her poems and prose largely deal with issues related to civil rights, feminism, and the exploration of black female identity. Lorde won international acclaim for her poetry and prose, and was Poet Laureate of New York state from 1990 until 1991.

As a lecturer in 1970, Lorde engaged diverse student bodies on the interlocking identities of class, race, and gender, with history and culture. 

Lorde reached audiences with her numerous writings. She published 15 books of poetry and prose, including 1984′s “Sister Outsider,” which is often included in the curriculum of women’s studies programs. In 1983, “Zami” hit the shelves. Lorde referred to it as a “biomythography,” but it was essentially her autobiography.

In addition to poetry, Audre Lorde was a powerful essayist and writer. In terms of her nonfiction work, she is best remembered for The Cancer Journals (1980), in which she documents her own struggle with breast cancer. Having undergone a mastectomy, Lorde refused to be victimized by the disease. Instead, she considered herself—and other women like her—to be warriors. The cancer later spread to her liver and this latest battle with the disease informs the essay collection, A Burst of Light (1989). This time, she chose to pursue alternative treatments rather than to opt for more surgery.

Dying on November 17, 1992, on the island of St. Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands,  Audre Lorde spent a lifetime exploring the pleasures and pain of being a black woman in America. Lorde’s was an essential voice in African American literature.

As a lesbian woman of color Lorde asserted, “I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and to share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigating pain.”

“Lorde was a woman for all times and all people.”

EQUALITY

You declare you see me dimly
through a glass which will not shine,
though I stand before you boldly,
trim in rank and marking time.
You do own to hear me faintly
as a whisper out of range,
while my drums beat out the message
and the rhythms never change.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

You announce my ways are wanton,
that I fly from man to man,
but if I’m just a shadow to you,
could you ever understand ?

We have lived a painful history,
we know the shameful past,
but I keep on marching forward,
and you keep on coming last.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

Take the blinders from your vision,
take the padding from your ears,
and confess you’ve heard me crying,
and admit you’ve seen my tears.

Hear the tempo so compelling,
hear the blood throb in my veins.
Yes, my drums are beating nightly,
and the rhythms never change.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free. 

Maya Angelou                    
                   

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My first essay was about being Black. I was a 3rd grader, and my teacher enjoyed my work so much that she signed me up to perform it live at my school’s Black History Month program. I was an extremely shy child, but I worked up the nerve to step onto that stage. I received a standing ovation and my teacher assured me that writing is what I was to do for the rest of my life. She was the first person to call me an artist. I still write and think about Blackness. I often refer back to my beginnings with questions of how I first became aware of race. I don’t know how I knew to use the brown crayon in my coloring books. Is it possible to have been born awake? Is it possible to arrive in flesh, blood and consciousness? I like to think so, and I like to think that artistry is simply a bi-product of that.

Nellallitea “Nella” Larsen (April 13, 1891 – March 30, 1964)

American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance. Working as a nurse and a librarian, she published two novels, Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929), and a few short stories. Though her literary output was scant, she earned recognition by her contemporaries. A revival of interest in her writing has occurred since the late 20th century, when issues of racial and sexual identity have been studied. Her works have been the subjects of numerous academic studies and she is now widely lauded “not only the premier novelist of the Harlem Renaissance, but also an important figure in American modernism.” (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: Cover of An Intimation of Things Distant: The Collected Fiction of Nella Larsen. Edited and with an Introduction by Charles R. Larson With a Foreword by Marita Golden. New York: Anchor Books, 1992.

In the early 20th Japanese nationalist groups embarked on various goodwill missions and invitations to promote the idea that Japan was the “champion of the dark races” and while it wasn’t as extensive compared to activities in Asia they did also make efforts to court Black-American intellectuals and writers to their side. Langston Hughes was one that was invited to visit Japan for a period but he ended up being expelled because he used it as an opportunity to visit and talk with various Leftist organizations in Japan and openly criticized the policies of the imperial government

youtube

James Baldwin goin’ in on racist America.  A must watch…

ON AGING

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in. 

Maya Angelou (1928 - 2014)                    

Aşkı tanıyan bir kadın, asIa aşktan azına razı oImaz ! Sahibi oIamayacağı boş sevdaIarda kiracı kaImaz .

Maxim Gorky

Görsel : “Harlem, 1970” by Anthony Barboza, in “Posing Beauty In African American Culture,” curated by Deborah Willis

A Queen's Reminder

So, I started to start to write it all out

Then I realized that I’ve written it all before.

Several times before.

Last year.

And the year before that.

And 3 years before that.

So, I just re-read my words.

I was trying to etch it into my mind.

Burn the word deep into my skin.

I want them to stain my tongue

Like Spaghetti sauce in a cheap container

That was never built to contain my love.

You weren’t even Ziploc.

You were barely Great Value.

Hell, but it wasn’t your fault.

I was foolish enough to think that you could love me

Without first loving God.

So, because you didn’t know God

You could never know how to treat his children.

You could only know the surface value but never the depth of

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere; Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Mark 12:31 The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself There is no commandment greater than these.

Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Patient, Kind, does no Envy.

Does not boast, is not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, always protects, trust, hopes, preserves, and never fails.

Never fails.

Never Fails.

But this failed.

It failed from the tops of mountains.

It failed from heights unimaginable.

It failed so hard the ground shook.

And it rattled me awake.

It rattled me to my senses and I looked to my Creator

To remember, finally, my name.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,

Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

He made me in joy.

So, even when you tried to strip me of my happiness,

I still smiled.

He made me with freedom.

So, when you tried to trap me in fear,

I still had my wings.

I am a child of the King.

I just had to be reminded that you were just a jester.

And I am a Queen deserving of a true King.

By Toni Jo @etherealsylph

huffingtonpost.com
30 Of The Most Important Articles By People Of Color In 2016
Required reading.

“For the second year in a row, we’ve curated a list of essays and articles that defined conversations about race, pop culture, politics and identity in 2016. They cover a wide array of topics, from reactions to the election of Donald Trump, to the huge role young black people play in internet culture, to the genius of James Baldwin. The criteria is simple: all pieces on this list were written by a person of color and published within the last year online.

As a look back, this year-end list is by no means fully comprehensive of all the stellar work written by writers of color in 2016. Feel there’s a glaring omission? Nominate your favorite pieces in the comments. In the meantime, check out these powerful, thought-provoking and entertaining reads from this year.”

See the list of great reads here