black biography

Michelle Obama: A Life by Peter Slevin

An inspiring story, richly detailed and written with élan, here is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama, a woman of achievement and purpose—and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side.  [book link]


“My music is addressed to my people… deliberately to provoke this feeling of ‘Who am I? Where did I come from? Do I really like me, and why do I like me? And if I am black and beautiful, I really am and I know it, and I don’t care who says what.’ That’s what my songs are about…Though I hope that in their musical concept, and in their musical form and power, that they will also live on after I die.” - Nina Simone, 1969

From Alan Light comes a biography of incandescent soul singer and Black Power icon Nina Simone, one of the most influential, provocative, and least understood artists of our time. WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?, the essential companion to the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary, is available now everywhere books are sold. Read an excerpt and get the book here.

[Photos courtesy of the Estate of Alfred Wertheimer]

I wanted to share this about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to hopefully motivate or just relate to those who also have it…and for those who don’t, to have better insight.

Having the brain that comes with BPD is like:

Standing in a beautiful open field, happy and free. Feeling for a window of time (which ranges) okay and “normal”.
But you are surrounded by little voices and versions of yourself or people from your past.
And every 5 minutes one comes up to you and says something to distract you, blind you, stir you, upset you, enrage you, depress you, critique you, shame you, control you…

“Don’t forget you are not enough.” triggers intense anxiety, depression, sadness.
“Your friend just said her other friend is funny, that must mean you aren’t funny at all and I am pretty sure she doesn’t really like you.” Enlist rage, anxiety, paranoia
“Shit, did you see your S.O. just look at that girl? Clearly you are nothing like her so I guess he doesn’t find you attractive at all and wishes you were her, you are not pretty enough. Your breasts are too small and you are fat but also you might be too skinny.” Now depressed, rage, deflation, shame.
“That girl has cool hair. Go get blonde hair. Wait…so does she. Do red. Look at her style. Cut your hair short. You’re dull, lame and boring, ahh go change it!!” - Excited, anxious and confused.
“That personality is so fun, why don’t you be like him? And see her, she has spunk, why can’t you? And that one is so sweet and genuine and kind, you’re miserable why aren’t you more kind and care-free like her?” Anxious, depressed, hopeless, lost.
“He cooks well, so you don’t at all. He must not think you do. Defend it if you think you do!” Rage, stubborn, ashamed, indignant.
“She’s tall. You’re a gnome, you are fat. And she’s short and petite. You’re a fat giant. Why can’t you be smaller? No one is looking at you. No one wants you.” Insecure, self conscious, depressed, hidden.
“He knew the answer. You’re so stupid, remember when you were told that a lot? Well, you still must be.” - Ashamed, rage, victimized, attacked.
“What is going on…no one has spoken to you in hours. You’re alone and no one cares. Everyone has someone but you” Depressed, heartbroken, ashamed, isolated.
“You only did a few things today, you are not productive and you are wasting your life!” Anxious, not enough.
“Your friend noticed the other is thinner. That means you are fatter lately because she didn’t say it to you.” Rage, shame, lonely, annoyed, vindictive.

Sometimes when these all happen at once, you will shut down and float away from your body while they hammer away. I will dissociate and let them take over my behaviors. Sometimes I get so anxious or enraged or sad that I throw up. Or sleep all day. Or stay up all night. Most people with BPD also have an eating disorder, anxiety disorder, mood disorder etc.

Days I am better at blocking them or rationalizing them away, I feel like a DBT master and that my med combo is finally solid.

Other days I am not so strong, I cave, and I feel like a failure. I feel like I should be locked away and I’m not good at love or life and everyone should stay away from me.

Realizing this, I decided today that I want to approach them differently.
Instead of feeling trapped, I want to not take anything they say personally. I want to thank them for their words and let them run freely while I also run freely.

I want to learn what I can from my inner parts and focus on me more and more. My main voice. Not theirs. And grow that one. Until they become little whispers, because with a disorder they’ll always be there. But I find when I strengthen my own self, when I begin to learn more and more about the bare me, what my own identity is and form a complete sense of being, I can’t feel as clouded and controlled by my random parts of me.

Instead, they can work together and integrate and be free to enjoy the beauty and the enoughness and wholeness of me. I don’t want to be a victim of my past trauma and my childhood. Because I am beyond enough, so enough and I don’t want to be so easily tricked anymore.

—  K.a.d. Mini Memoir

“Life and death, energy and peace. If I stop today it was still worth it. Even the terrible mistakes that I have made and would have unmade if I could. The pains that have burned me and scarred my soul, it was worth it, for having been allowed to walk where I’ve walked, which was to hell on earth, heaven on earth, back again, into, under, far in between, through it, in it, and above…”
Gia (1998)

Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper, changed this nation’s perspective on democracy. She worked for political, social and economic equality for herself and all African Americans. She fought to integrate the national Democratic Party, and became one of the first black delegates to a presidential convention. Fannie Lou Townsend was born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, in 1917, the youngest of 20 children. By the age of six she was working in the cotton fields. She became known in the civil rights movement as a captivating preacher and singer, inspiring others with her moral and physical courage. In 1962, the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to Hamer’s town and encouraged blacks to register as voters. Hamer volunteered, even though she had not previously known that it was a Constitutional Right for blacks to vote.  After registering herself and working with SNCC, she lost her job, received death threats, and was severely beaten by the police in an effort to intimidate her.  Hamer helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) in 1964 because blacks were not allowed in the all-white regular party delegation. Although Lyndon Johnson refused to seat the MFDP, the Democrats agreed that in the future no delegation would be seated from a state where anyone was illegally denied the right to vote. Hamer also worked towards achieving financial independence for blacks. In 1969, she helped to start Freedom Farms Corporation, which lent land to blacks until they had enough money to buy it. She worked with the National Council of Negro Women, organized food co-operatives, and helped convene the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1970. Though Hamer wanted children, a white doctor had sterilized her without permission, so she adopted daughters instead.  In her last years, she received many honors and awards. Engraved on her headstone in her hometown of Ruleville, Mississippi, are her famous words: “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
11 Books to Help You Understand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Legacy in 2016 | Penguin Random House
Forty-eight years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death, American society is still struggling with racial inequality. We've compiled eleven essential reads to shed light on Dr. King's life, the Civil...

In honor of Dr. King, read up on his life, his legacy, and the state of racial inequality in America today.

I have been raised by White U.S.Military Generals and they taught me about my African-American identity, i read Malcolm X Biography, Martin Luther King Biography, The Black Panthers Biography, i watched Blaxploitation Films of the 70s, i listened to the Poetry of “The Last Poets” - I listened to almost every Rap album of the 90s and early 2000s - I have been taught about my black culture - i know my history but i was raised by White People my whole life.

My iPhone has been cleared of nearly all photos in order to provide sufficient space for documenting the upcoming road trip.  Now they’re all cluttering up my photo library on my computer, but oh well.

I tried in vain to get my father to leave the camera he bought while he was visiting here with me, but he could not be convinced.

(But seriously, who is going to have more need for a quality camera in the next six months: the busy lawyer who never takes a day off, or his son studying in Germany who travels on the weekends?)

My suitcase is packed, my rucksack is filled with my research notebook, pencils, pens, passport, blister Band-Aids and Black’s penultimate Kaltenbrunner biography.  My devices are charging, my backup phone battery is on standby for when it runs low taking photos, and my USB drive is ready for whatever comes its way.  I’ve got my map of Upper Austria close at hand, and, of course, a pack of Chesterfields for Ernst.

“If you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.” ~ Yaa Asantewaa Nana Yaa Asantewaa (c. 1840–17 October 1921) (pronounced YAH a-SAN-te-WAH) was a warrior, queen mother and one of the Africa`s great freedom fighters. She was arguably Ghana and Africa`s greatest fearless female warrior during colonial times. Yaa Asantewa who was the queen mother of Ejisu (Edweso) in the Ashanti Empire—now part of modern-day Ghana—by her brother Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpese, the Ejisuhene—or ruler of Ejisu. In 1900, she led the Ashanti (Asante) rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool against British colonialism when the British Empire after looting Ashanti Kingdom and exiling King of Asante Prempeh I, dared to ask for their Golden Stool which symbolizes their soul as Nation and an ethnic group. She is popularly referred to as "Africa`s Joan of Arc.” When men panic and flee from danger, Yaa Asantewa laughs and face it squarely!

I don’t personally put stock in astrology, but curiosity got the better of me and I feel like I’ve got Sirius’s bio now because it’s clear JK had this in mind when she was writing his character. I took out “scorpio” and put Sirius. Here:

Strengths: Loyal, Passionate, Resourceful, Observant, Dynamic

Weaknesses: Jealous, Obsessive, Suspicious, Manipulative, Unyielding

Sirius is fiercely independent. He is able to accomplish anything he puts his mind to and won’t give up. (animagus at 15? breaking out of azkaban.) He is perfectly suited to living on his own. (in hiding. in his own flat at 17.)

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